David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing of the American Museum of Natural History

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For the third action, we occupied the David H. Koch Dinosaur wing of the American Museum of Natural History— donning dinosaur masks and giving guided tours through the bones of T-Rex and friends about the potential menaces of philanthropy. We gave a full overview of all the philanthropic activities of the Koch dynasty including the funding the Tea Party, right-wing think tanks, numerous anti-climate change initiatives. We told a story of the history of the ferocious Koch-asauras, rooted in the anti-communism paranoia and the racist underpinnings of the John Birch Society. A medium channeled the voices of dinosaurs past while doing an interpretive dance with a crystal ball. We did a mass dinosaur die-in followed by a discussion of what alternative models of philanthropy might look like.

Bring Your Own Manifest (BYOM)

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For the second action, we re-occupied MoMA holding a “Bring Your Own Manifesto (BYOM) assembly, and formed alliances with Teamsters Local 814 who had been locked out of their art handling jobs at Sotheby’s. The teamsters brought flyers tying MoMA board members and donors to Sotheby’s. This time, rather than being met by MoMA directors, we were greeted by the NYPD and their barricades. After the police demanded that we protest within a steel pen off of the sidewalk and away from MoMA’s main entrance, the General Assembly facilitator refused to speak to the police unless they used the people’s mic. Thus the group was empowered to talk to the police as a whole. Needless to say, it did not give consensus on the proposal to enter the police pen. We demanded that the police explain the rules of public space in front of the museum through the GA format. As it was legal to be there (we now know that the NYPD does not encourage people to excercize or know their legal rights), we held our ground, and continued our assembly.  Manifestos were read about the abuse of unpaid intern labor in galleries and museums, an Irish revolutionary song was sung, and a ballet was danced (toe shoes and all). After everyone had read their manifestos, we  headed to Sotheby’s to join the picket line of the Teamsters Local 814 in the freezing cold rain.

First Action at Museum of Modern Art

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With great urgency, the first action was organized for the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum. The Frick was also planned, but was dropped due to time constraints. Participants staged an OWS-style assembly in front of the museums where a manifesto was read and injustices in the world of culture were spoken publicly. This first action was widely covered in the press and debated on countless online forums. At the end of the action, directors of MoMA came down and asked what we wanted. We replied that we had no demands, but would continue to Occupy each week in order to open up a meaningful conversation about economic injustice and abuse of the public for the gain of the 1% in cultural institutions.  They were invited to join our  General Assembly.