Top British art galleries investigate sexual misconduct

Allegations against philanthropist Anthony D’Offay, reported in the Observer, place art world in the spotlight

At least 10 investigations into sexual misconduct have taken place at Britain’s largest galleries and museums over the past four years.

The inquiries included two at the V&A, in 2011-12 and 2015-16, which were accompanied by police investigations. They led to the dismissal of two staff members after one verdict of sexual misconduct and another of “stalking and gender violence”.

The UK art world has come under the spotlight following allegations, published in the Observer last Sunday, against the powerful British dealer and philanthropist Anthony d’Offay. The gallerist, who gave a £125m art collection to the nation, denies three women’s allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behaviour dating from 1997 to 2004.

In answer to a freedom of information request, the Tate, which manages the d’Offay collection, said it had received no formal allegations of sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct over the past four years. Its catering division did receive three formal complaints, one in 2015 and two in 2017, all from female workers about male colleagues.

The Science Museum awarded two members of staff payments in relation to cases, while two staff left as a result of the investigations. The National Gallery has received three allegations, resulting in the departure of three of its staff. The National History Museum referred to one incident, but withheld details. Royal Museums Greenwich said it had carried out a disciplinary investigation in 2015-16, resulting in one dismissal.

The British Museum, National Museums Scotland, and the Imperial War Museum said they had received no such allegations in that period.

Sarah McCrory, the director of Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art and a signatory to a recent letter denouncing sexual harassment and abuses of power in the art world, said: “These are the well-funded institutions with dedicated HR departments, as opposed to the huge number of smaller organisations, commercial galleries and other art spaces that have no system to support staff if issues arise. The art world is still a difficult place to have open and frank conversations about workplace bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct and other types of inappropriate behaviour, andPeople in positions of power need to do more to support their artists and employees.”


Ben Quinn

The GuardianTramp

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