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Academy Museum Loses Top Deputy (EXCLUSIVE)

Deborah Horowitz, the deputy director of the long-delayed Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, has left her position, Variety has learned.

Horowitz oversaw all curatorial efforts at the museum, and was the top lieutenant to director Kerry Brougher. The Academy confirmed her exit in a statement.

“The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures confirms the departure of Deputy Director for Creative Content and Programming Deborah Horowitz,” the Academy said. “Academy Museum Director Kerry Brougher has expressed his gratitude for her assistance during the development stage of this new institution.”

The museum has suffered repeated delays and setbacks over the years, is now expected to open by the end of 2019. However, no official opening date has been given and it remains to be seen whether the project will meet that deadline.

Horowitz has also been a controversial figure among the museum staff, as some have raised complaints about her leadership style with Academy officials. Some found her overly controlling, and said she made it difficult to interact with Brougher. Several curators and exhibit designers have come and gone over the years.

Brougher and Horowitz worked together at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, and he brought her to the Academy Museum shortly after he was hired to run it in 2014.

Horowitz worked on a series of special exhibitions and helped develop the core 30,000 square-foot exhibition on the history of cinema. She gave a presentation unveiling the core exhibition at a luncheon in December.

In its statement, the Academy said Brougher will work with Brendan Connell, Jr., the chief operating officer, and Katharine DeShaw, the head of fundraising, “to ensure continuing progress and a smooth transition.”

“The Museum’s Board of Trustees and staff look forward to welcoming the public to the extraordinary experiences now being developed for the Academy Museum,” the Academy said.

The $388 million museum is nearing completion at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. In December, museum officials vowed that it would open within a year, though no opening date has been announced.

The project has been beset by difficulties, and has recently struggled to meet its fundraising goal. In November, Variety reported that fundraising had stalled at $281 million, about $100 million shy of the goal.

First announced in 2012, the project was originally expected to open in 2016.

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