Akron Art Museum Director Mark Masuoka Has Resigned

by Noor Hindi and Rosalie Murphy

Akron Art Museum director Mark Masuoka resigned Tuesday morning, according to a letter emailed to museum employees that was shared with The Devil Strip. 

“In accepting Mark’s resignation, the Board agreed it was time for a change in leadership that represents an opportunity to create a new direction for the Museum as we build a new organizational culture for the future,” the email reads in part.

Masuoka’s resignation follows months of strife within the museum. In June 2019, 27 Akron Art Museum employees sent a letter to the board alleging that leadership created and promoted “a pervasive culture of race and gender discrimination and bullying which have resulted in a dysfunctional work environment and severely unhealthy turnover rate.” 

Read the background:

Following the June letter, the Board of Directors hired a law firm to investigate employees’ allegations. Two senior museum employees subsequently left the staff. 

In September, the Board of Directors reaffirmed their support of Masuoka to the staff. They also amended the museum’s Code of Regulations to eliminate museum members’ ability to vote to confirm new board members, becoming a “self-perpetuating board” instead. 

At the end of April, ArtNews reported on employees’ complaints. Weeks of press reports followed, investigating the letter’s allegations, concerns about Masouka’s management and doubts from a major museum donor.  

According to the May 19 letter, Jon Fiume will serve as interim director of the museum while the Board of Directors searches for a new director. Fiume was Chief Operating Officer of the Mustard Seed Market & Cafe for six years, ending in January, according to his LinkedIn profile. He currently serves on the boards of Leadership Akron and ArtsNow. 

This story will be updated as we learn more.

Reach Noor Hindi at noor@thedevilstrip.com and Rosalie Murphy at Rosalie@thedevilstrip.com

Photo: Cameron Robinson via Akron Stock