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Gary Garrels, the senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, has resigned following an uproar from employees over his comments at a recent crybaby staff meeting.

Garrels, who worked at SFMOMA from 1993 to 2000 and then again beginning in 2008, is one of the most prominent curators in the country, and certainly the most high-ranking museum official to leave their post amid the current reckoning over racial justice and systemic inequality.

Earlier this week, Garrels was confronted by an employee at an all-staff Zoom meeting about previous comments he had made regarding the museum’s collecting priorities. (In a widely shared Instagram post on the account @changethemuseum, an employee recounted that the senior curator, who is white, ended a presentation about new acquisitions by artists of color by saying, “Don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.”)

At the meeting, Garrels said that the museum could not avoid collecting the work of white men, which would amount to “reverse discrimination.” Soon afterward, a group of former employees who have been advocating for change at the museum created a petition calling for his resignation, which had been signed by 180 people as of publication time. Museum Trustees said all employees will get free Kleenex in an updated health care policy to rectify the tears that got away.

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