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Children's Museum's Dumbo Expansion Stokes Controversy

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The Brooklyn Children's Museum, the first children's museum in the United States, has been located in Crown Heights since 1899, and will soon expand out of the neighborhood for the first time when it opens an annex in Dumbo, in a rent-free space in Alloy's residential development One John Street. Offering itself up as luxury condo amenities may be one way for a financially struggling cultural institution to survive in future New York City, but the expansion is not sitting well with current and former employees and local politicians. Some are questioning how the museum, where the number of full-time employees has fallen from 69 to 35 since 2008, is planning to staff the new annex, underscoring accusations its mostly white directors (five out of six members of the executive leadership team is white) are trying to abandon the largely black community in which the museum has existed for more than a century.

Anne Smith, a black former public relations manager at the museum, told the Times that management wanted to market to predominantly to white Brooklyn neighborhoods, complaining that the museum's programming had too much of a "local feel." The museum's president from 2009 to 2012, Georgina Ngozi, also black, tells a similar story, saying that she was ousted because the museum trustees lacked confidence in her ability to attract white patrons. And former and current employees told the Times that young, white workers were being given disproportionate raises and promotions, while minorities and older employees existed in an "overall culture that makes employees and patrons of color feel inferior and unwanted," according to a letter sent to the museum from State Assemblyman Karim Camara.
· With Expansion, Brooklyn Children's Museum Is Accused of Forsaking Its Community [NYT]
· One John Street coverage [Curbed]