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Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image appoints new executive director

The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria announced that veteran nonprofit art executive Aziz Isham will step into the leadership role at the cultural institution. (Photos courtesy of MoMI)

Aug. 25, 2023 By Bill Parry

A veteran nonprofit arts executive, Emmy-winning filmmaker, writer and curator will take over the leadership of one of the borough’s preeminent cultural institutions this fall. The Board of Trustees of Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) in Astoria has appointed Aziz Isham as their new executive director.

“MoMI really is the museum of the moment. AI is changing everything we think we know about the moving image and media literacy is a prerequisite for navigating our world online. I can’t think of a more relevant New York institution and a better place to make sense of the present and figure out our future,” Isham said. “As the world of the moving image transforms, we’ve got this opportunity to redesign how the Museum engages with the public, and with our communities in Queens and in New York City. I’m especially thrilled to be joining as the Museum re-imagines its core exhibition — building on so much incredible work by the curators, staff and trustees.”

Aziz Isham will take over as executive director at Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image this fall. (Courtesy of MoMI)

Isham comes to the Museum after a 20-year career leading nonprofit arts organizations, most recently as the executive director of Twenty Summers, whose annual festival in Provincetown, Mass., presents and incubates original work that imagines a more sustainable and equitable future. Prior to that, Isham was the founding executive producer of the Brooklyn-based community-media network BRIC TV, where he oversaw hundreds of hours of programming by filmmakers and journalists and shepherded numerous features and shorts to the national spotlight. While there, he opened a state-of-the-art media incubation center in Downtown Brooklyn.

Isham has produced more than 40 documentaries, feature films and TV series, with an emphasis on independent and community-focused productions. He has received six NY Emmy Awards for documentaries on climate change, education and the arts.

Isham grew up in New York City and graduated from Yale with a degree in Anthropology. He speaks frequently on community and media and teaches showrunning and social justice filmmaking at the Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema in Brooklyn, New York. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two young children.

“Aziz’s background and many achievements leading non-profit arts organizations make him a dynamic addition to MoMI’s fine leadership team,” added MoMI Co-Chair Michael Barker. “Together with our curators, educators and other staff, we look for Aziz to advance the mission of our museum and shape and expand the footprint of our many education and community engagement initiatives. We are pleased to welcome him in the midst of an exciting new era for MoMI.”

Isham steps into the leadership position on Oct. 1 replacing Carl Goodman who served as MoMI’s executive director for 12 years before stepping down in March, to take up the role of president and CEO of The Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg.

“After our six-month robust search, we are thrilled to announce Aziz Isham as MoMI’s new executive director,” said MoMI Co-Chair Ivan Lustig. “With his impressive background and diverse set of skills, Aziz emerged as the most capable, energetic and enthusiastic candidate, and we are truly delighted to have him join the MoMI team.”

The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria (Courtesy of MoMI)

MoMI is the only institution in the U.S. that deals comprehensively with the art, technology, enjoyment and social impact of film, television,and digital media and is currently in the planning phase of a full redesign of its core exhibition that explores how people create and engage with the moving image, defined as film, television, video games, social media and other forms of digital media. The new exhibition, to be on view for a decade, will take a culturally and physically inclusive approach to this subject matter. Located on two floors comprising 13,000 square feet of gallery space, it will immerse visitors in the creative and technical process of producing, promoting and presenting films, television shows and digital entertainment and consider how audiences creatively respond to screen-based stories and characters.

MoMI anticipates the redesigned exhibition will play a critical role as its touchstone experience and primary teaching resource.

The project has received major support from the state of New York, with funding secured by Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Office of the Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and individual supporters.

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