Tom Finkelpearl is a former museum director who served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs from 2014 to 2019 under York City mayor Bill de Blasio. His abrupt departure occurred after several controversies surrounding public monuments in New York and the mayor's wife's involvement but may not have been related.
Tom oversaw city funding for nonprofit arts organizations across the five boroughs and directed the cultural policy for the City of New York. Prior to this, Tom served as Executive Director of the Queens Museum for twelve years starting in 2002, where he oversaw an expansion that doubled the museum’s size via a two-year, $68 million renovation. He positioned the organization as a vibrant center for social engagement in nearby communities.
He also held positions at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, working on the organization’s merger with the Museum of Modern Art, and served as Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program. Based on his public art experience and additional research, he published a book, Dialogues in Public Art (MIT Press), in 2000. His second book, What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation (Duke University Press, 2013) examines the activist, participatory, coauthored aesthetic experiences being created in contemporary art.
He received a BA from Princeton University (1979) and an MFA from Hunter College (1983).