Just over a week after the Orlando Museum of Art announced that previous director Dr. Luder Whitlock would come aboard as interim director of the museum, Whitlock has announced his resignation from the post.
“The Board of Trustees of the Orlando Museum of Art has accepted the resignation of Interim Director Luder Whitlock,” the museum shared in a statement. “As a well-known community member, Dr. Whitlock’s availability as a resource and guide to the Museum family has been very much appreciated.”
We can’t say we blame Whitlock for his quick exit. Whoever is at the helm of the Orlando Museum of Art has their work cut out for them. The recently raided museum is staring down a crisis of credibility after its previous director appeared to put on an exhibit of questionable authenticity in the hopes of upping the museum’s national profile.
Following a raid that seized the possibly counterfeit Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings being shown at the museum, information steadily leaked out about the circumstances that led up the dramatic end of the exhibit. An art expert revealed that her doubts about the paintings had been first ignored and then misrepresented in exhibit materials. When she confronted then-director Aaron De Groft about the way her words were used, she was told to “shut up” and “stay in [her] limited lane.”
Further examination of FBI documents related to the raid revealed that the supposed original purchaser of the long-lost Basquiat paintings had never actually met the artist and had no recollection of buying his paintings. De Groft was ousted and a task force was convened by the museum to check their standards and practices for future exhibits. That task force has already removed several OMA trustees from their posts, claiming that they exceeded term limits set by the museum’s bylaws. Those members were not named in a statement shared by the task force.
The museum claims it’s putting a committee together made of board members and an independent recruiting firm to seek out the museum’s next director.