Tomorrow morning the Mississippi Museum of Art will host a press preview for an exhibition of works from the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York, titled “When Modern Was Contemporary: Selections from the Roy R. Neuberger Collection.” According to an agenda released this morning, the MMA’s leadership will be on hand, along with the chair of the American Federation of the Arts, the president of the Trustmark Corporation, and a trustee of the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation, all of whom have provided funding for the show.
But one person will be conspicuously absent from the event in Jackson, Mississippi: the director of the Neuberger, Tracy Fitzpatrick, who announced last night that she will not travel to the state for the show, to protest the recent passage of a law there that allows various organizations, including private businesses, to refuse to work with people if doing so would conflict with employees’ religious beliefs. Touted by its supporters as a religious-liberties measure, the law effectively allows people to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals.
“While I hope that the presence of the works by such a diverse group of artists in ‘When Modern Was Contemporary’ will help create dialogue around these issues,” Fitzpatrick said in a statement, “in view of Mississippi’s new discriminatory law it is with great regret that I must decline the Mississippi Museum of Art’s kind invitation to celebrate with them on the occasion of the opening of the Neuberger exhibition.”
I asked Fitzpatrick in an email if there had been any discussion about pulling the show in protest, and she said that there had not been. “The Mississippi Museum of Art is a great institution and we know they are ecstatic to have 60 works from the Neuberger Museum’s collection,” Fitzpatrick said, adding, “Roy R. Neuberger, our founding patron, supported living artists irrespective of their backgrounds and beliefs.”