Jill Snyder, who has served as director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland for 23 years, resigned on Friday, the museum said in a statement, “to begin a transition to new leadership” for the contemporary art institution. Her departure comes nearly two weeks after Ms. Snyder publicly apologized to an artist for canceling his exhibition dealing with police killings of black and Latino boys and men.
In the statement announcing her resignation, Ms. Snyder did not refer to the apology, saying, “I came to this decision with the understanding that the world at large, and our museum in particular, are in a powerful moment of disruption and possibility.” She added, “I embrace this as an opportunity to advance the movement for change that is now sweeping through our culture.”
In an interview with The New York Times on June 8, Ms. Snyder said the museum had received complaints from some people in the city’s African-American community that the work by the artist Shaun Leonardo — which featured charcoal drawings of Eric Garner and Tamir Rice, among other victims — had “stirred the trauma back up for the very community that it is intending to reach.”
Ms. Snyder posted a public apology to Mr. Leonardo on the museum’s website for not including him in public discussions and for not reaching out to a broader African-American constituency. “I would like to acknowledge our failure in working through the challenges this exhibition presented together with Mr. Leonardo,” she wrote. “In doing so, we failed the artist, we breached his trust, and we failed ourselves.”
Mr. Leonardo revealed the cancellation in an email to his supporters, saying the museum’s response was an “act of censorship” stemming from “institutional white fragility.”
Ms. Snyder oversaw the institution’s 2012 move to a sleek new 34,000-square-foot, $27.2 million home in the University Circle neighborhood, designed by the architect Farshid Moussavi. It had resided in rented space since it opened as the New Gallery, then a commercial entity, in 1968. Megan Lykins Reich, its deputy director, will serve as interim executive director while the board searches for a new director.