Queens Museum president and executive director Tom Finkelpearl was officially introduced as Mayor de Blasio's new Department of Cultural Affairs commissioner on Monday.
At press conference attended by dozens of museum employees and elected officials in the lobby of the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the Mayor called the hiring of Finkelpearl "A joyous day for the borough of Queens," and admitted his admiration for his dedication to serving Queens.
"Tom brings with him a deep and abiding appreciation for this borough," de Blasio said. "When we met he spoke constantly of his love for this place ... And it was clear to me that his experience framed in him an understanding of what it means to bring arts and culture to the people, to bring the people to every arts and culture institution."
Finkelpearl appeared to get slightly emotional during a rousing standing ovation from the crowd after de Blasio's remarks, and he expressed his excitement to work with the Mayor and the city's countless cultural institutions in the coming weeks.
"The [Department of Cultural Affairs] should be about inclusion, openness and opportunity," Finkelpearl said. "What happens on the community level with artists in all the neighborhoods of New York City, there’s something extremely valuable and moving that’s good for communities. And I intend to try to understand how we can best express that value."
Finkelpearl, an artist himself, specializing in sculpting, was the president and executive director of the Queens Museum from 2002 until this year. He will be in charge of the Department of Cultural Affairs' $156 million budget.
Neither Finkelpearl nor de Blasio would comment on what cultural institutions or sites the department would immediately focus on in Queens or the city as a whole.