Shelburne Museum fires accused architect Adjaye from indigenous art project

by Guy Page

In light of allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against architect Sir David Adjaye, Shelburne Museum will no longer be engaging him or his firm, Adjaye Associates, as design architect of a building planned to house the Museum’s collection of Native American art, the museum announced July 13.

The world-renowned architect based in New York was accused by three unnamed former employees of sexual assault and harrassment in a July 4 news article in the Financial Times. To date, no criminal charges have been brought. The accusations prompted Adjaye to voluntarily withdraw from many of the firm’s projects and to resign from several advisory positions. 

Sir David Adjaye

“The recent allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against David Adjaye, and his admission of inappropriate behavior, are incompatible with our mission and values, which left the museum with no alternative but to immediately sever ties with the architect and his firm,” said Thomas Denenberg, John Wilmerding Director and CEO of Shelburne Museum. “We remain committed to moving forward with the project and the many other partners and collaborators who have been involved since its conceptualization.”

Adjaye, knighted by Queen Elizabeth into the Order of Merit and the Order of the British Empire (OBE), is a Ghanaian-British architect born in Tanzania, according to the bio on his firm’s website. His largest project to date, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, DC opened on the National Mall in Washington DC in 2016 and was named Cultural Event of the Year by The New York Times.

In 2017, Adjaye was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people of the year by TIME Magazine. He is also the recipient of the World Economic Forum’s 27th Annual Crystal Award, which recognizes his “leadership in serving communities, cities and the environment”.

In May, Shelburne Museum announced the Perry Center for Native American Art, part of a major initiative that includes stewardship of an important collection of Native American art and construction of a building and integrated landscape collaboratively designed to create a national resource for the study and care of Indigenous art. 

The Perry Center for Native American Art is planned to be a highly sustainable pavilion designed to support the culturally appropriate interpretation and care of Indigenous material culture. Designed and realized through a rigorous process in partnership with Indigenous voices, the Perry Center will serve as a welcoming space for Tribal members and scholars to study and engage with the collection and will reimagine the museum experience for all visitors including the local community, schoolchildren and tourists. 

The Perry Center is named in honor of Tony and Tessa Perry. Restaurateur Tony Perry founded the Sirloin Saloons in Manchester and Shelburne, Dakotas, Sweetwaters, and Perry’s Fish House

Some content sourced from Shelburne Museum press statement.

Categories: Business

9 replies »

  1. I wish the wonderful Shelburne Museum well in finding a suitable replacement to design the new building on their beautiful grounds, but may I suggest that those in Vermont especially re-learn how to contract people solely on the basis of talent, ethos, and expertise as opposed to including race and/or place of birth on the list of criteria.

    Also, Shelburne Museum, if you’re adamant about using an NYC architectural firm, steer clear of the one owned by the Gilgo Beach killer too. Violent crime against women is apparently an actual thing. Who knew?

    • It’s amazing, we pass laws preventing employment discrimination against convicted criminals, yet we have no problem saying you can never work again because of an accusation. Where is the logic? Would people prefer everyone who is cancelled to turn to a life of crime, or simply live off the public dole?

      • They definitely want us all on the dole. A government powerful enough to give you everything you need is a government powerful enough to take everything you have.

  2. Being accused of sexual harassment & assault by three presumably credible people there who were victimized is enough evidence for an employer to terminate the accused, yes. A workplace is not a court of law nor does it need to be under these circumstances; Shelburne was correct in terminating him as THEY are his employer in this case.

    The only reason you believe that you are “suddenly” seeing more (mostly) males accused, admonished, & terminates is simply because although these types of crimes (and yes, harassing & assaulting someone can be a crime) ALWAYS took place, it is only in the last decade or so where federal laws pertaining to these crimes began to be taken more seriously & charges were scrutinized.

    Before that, it was always the ‘ol attitude of “boys will be boys” and the women were merely further victimized, and men were emboldened. Add to this the fact that this particular person’s country of origin has a reputation for treating women in a disparate manner from that of males. To be sure, these abuses occur much more often than you are likely aware and keeping males in their positions who refuse to be in compliance with federal law just so that they won’t then become “unemployed” is absurd!

    I applaud Shelburne, based on the information contained within this article, that they actually stood up for women – as opposed to many other Vermont institutions who take actions against females that are either dismissive at best or injurious at worst.

    • While the women may be presumably credible, it is still only accusations. Innocent until proven guilty ring a bell?

      • It sure is. In a COURT of LAW. Since you obviously didn’t bother reading my post though, I’ll reiterate – an employer has the right to terminate based upon such accusations should they be deemed credible. In certain states, as a matter of fact, employers can terminate you for ANY reason with the exception being discrimination. Sexual harassment, discrimination, & assault is sadly a common problem, always have been, and is a federal crime. Therefore, claims ought to be taken seriously, and appropriate action remanded as in this case.

        By the way, are you as adamant if the actions were being levied against a Catholic priest?

  3. The clueless, woke people who hired this vile creature in the first place should also be fired.

  4. Knighted by the Queen of England you say? We know what fine outstanding people the Royals keep close and rewarded within the confines of the Crown secrets don’t we? I wonder if he did any work for Epstien or Maxwell? I bet his contact list and laptop contents are telling and criminal, but will remain hidden. They are all connected and running in the same circles makes them one in the same. Demons.