21 Questions With Brooklyn Museum Director Anne Pasternak

Picture-Illustration: Curbed; Picture: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

New York’s “21 Questions” is again with an eye fixed on artistic New Yorkers. Anne Pasternak has been the director of the Brooklyn Museum since 2015, and is the primary girl to steer an encyclopedic museum in New York. Earlier than then, she served because the creative director and president of public-arts group Artistic Time for over 20 years. 

Identify: Anne Pasternak
Age: 57
Neighborhood: Brooklyn Heights
Occupation: Director of the Brooklyn Museum

What’s hanging above your sofa?
I’ve a salon-style hanging of my artwork assortment. Most of it has been items from artists through the years: Jenny Holzer, Ugo Rondinone, Kara Walker, Cary Leibowitz, and naturally my husband Mike Starn.

What’s the primary job you had in New York?
I used to be the director of Stux Gallery in Soho. It was 1989 and an thrilling time as a result of the artwork world was smaller, everybody knew one another, and other people weren’t so aggressive. Leo Castelli was throughout the road and I’d have lunch with him each few months. I met my husband there and made lasting friendships with Andres Serrano and Vik Muniz.

What shade are you all the time drawn to?
I like all types of pink. It’s a contented, stress-free shade. And while you see somebody carrying stunning pink at a celebration, you’re like, You’re so cool.

What murals or artifact are you most stunned you personal?
I’ve a print of Abu Ghraib, by Richard Serra. He created it to boost cash for a human-rights group. I by no means thought I’d have the ability to personal a Richard Serra. For me, he’s one of many biggest artists of all time.

Which New Yorker would you need to hang around with?
A variety of comedians usually are not identified for really being humorous, however Mel Brooks is. I like that old-school New Yorker sort who’s acquired tales.

What’s the very last thing you made along with your fingers?
Does dinner depend? I don’t have any hobbies in any respect. I simply work on a regular basis. I’m not a kind of individuals who realized learn how to make bread throughout COVID.

Is there one factor you personal a number of variations of?
Mike and I’ve a set of classic beginner lake work hanging throughout our cottage upstate. Once we purchased the home, every thing the earlier homeowners had was left behind and there have been already outdated work of lakes hanging round, so it appeared like a factor to do. We discovered extra at vintage outlets upstate, and I have to confess that I purchased just a few on eBay, so now we’ve 75 complete, hanging salon-style.

What New York Metropolis museum do you all the time return to?
The plain reply is the Brooklyn Museum since I’m there nearly daily, however the Met is my temple and it all the time has been. When the world will get ugly, I head to the Met. I need to be reminded of humankind’s struggles and potential for greatness. I by no means miss the Medieval Artwork galleries.

What do you all the time have subsequent to your laptop?
Water, a lined pad of paper, and my fine-point Sharpie. I simply must be old-school and jot issues down.

The place is the perfect view of the town?
It’s from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade — perhaps tied with Brooklyn Bridge Park — as a result of you’ve the assembly of the southern tip of Manhattan, the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, Governors Island, and all this boat exercise. You get a way of the river.

What constructing or object do you need to redesign each time you see it?
Each time I keep in a resort room, I’ve to redecorate it. I can’t stand the litter. I disguise all of the magazines, pop-up folded placards, and ugly décor in a drawer. I prefer to stretch within the morning, so I rearrange the furnishings so there’s extra ground area. The one factor I don’t do is take paintings off the wall as a result of I don’t need to have a look at the nail.

What’s one factor you’d change about your discipline? 
There’s a lot divisiveness in our tradition and we have gotten much less capable of communicate with each other. The state of affairs is exacerbated by a honest need to keep away from offense, the policing of speech, and the worry of being canceled, which stifles actual communication. But museums are among the many few areas the place individuals of all backgrounds and beliefs can come collectively to be taught, develop, debate, and be in dialogue. We’re locations that open hearts and minds. However once we can’t have actual conversations with each other, as employees and audiences, the potential for particular person and collective transformation is restricted. So, if I might wave my magic wand, I’d ask cultural organizations to mannequin how we will be in neighborhood and dialogue throughout these tumultuous instances.

If you happen to might reside anyplace in New York Metropolis, the place wouldn’t it be?
I already reside in that place and it’s Brooklyn. It’s the town of artists, the town of dissent, the town of variety. It’s acquired extra moxie and chutzpah than every other place.

What would you hoard, if it stopped being produced?
Duncan Hines brownie combine — the moist one, not the cakey combine.

What do you do to get out of a artistic rut? 
I all the time dedicate a while to hanging out with artists of their studio and having a meal with individuals who broaden my worldview, and that might be anybody from NASA scientists to social-justice pioneers and enterprise leaders. I used to be in a rut at the start of the summer time, which got here after pushing so exhausting via COVID. As soon as Roe was overturned, for me it was like, I don’t know if I can take way more. A pair weeks in the past, I used to be within the studio of Hank Willis Thomas, an artist whom I actually admire, and we have been speaking about bringing pleasure into the democratic course of.

The place was your first NYC condominium and the way a lot was the hire? 
I had one and a half flooring in a brownstone in Windsor Terrace. It was $1,250 in ’89. It was a working-class Italian neighborhood on the time and there weren’t many eating places. It was a spot I might afford on the F line to get to work in Soho.

The place within the metropolis do you go to be alone?
I’m going to the Promenade on a weekly foundation and watch the solar set.

Worst piece of profession recommendation you’ve ever gotten? 
My father urged me to be a pc programmer; he knew that computer systems can be the following factor and it might be a safe job to be a programmer. However he clearly didn’t perceive something about his daughter, as a result of I can let you know that may have been an epic fail.

What have you ever given away to somebody that you simply want you may get again? 
Really nothing. I love giving items and I’ve been fortunately purging for my complete life.

What’s your favourite NYC restaurant and common order? 
My outdated standby for the reason that ’80s is Indochine. My go-to order is the ocean bass. It’s been capable of keep hip for all these many years. It’s considered one of these locations the place they simply know you and also you’re taken care of rather well.

What descriptive phrase would you like in your obit headline?
That is like writing your résumé. Do I’ve to reply? “She was a great buddy to artists and championed the facility of artwork to encourage social change.”


See All



Leave a Comment