The Brooklyn Museum, New York (photo by Jules Antonio/Flickr)

A visitor to the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday, October 6, fell to his death while sliding down a stairwell banister, the museum confirmed to Hyperallergic. Kirkland Dawson, a 34-year-old New York-based attorney, toppled over the third-floor staircase railing and landed on the ground floor, according to a police report first obtained by the New York Daily News.

The incident occurred around 9:30 pm on during the monthly “First Saturdays” program at the museum. Dawson was rushed to New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital. He died from his injuries the following day.

Dawson’s family told the newspaper that the museum never reached out to them to provide details about the accident or offer condolences. “I wish they would call,” the deceased’s mother, Kathy Dawson, told the Daily News. “They haven’t offered me condolences or anything,” she added. “To not even get a call saying we’re sorry or anything, nothing.”

“We’re really just hearing word of mouth what happened,” said the victim’s sister, Taylor Dawson. “We still don’t really know. No one at the museum has reached out to his mom or me,” she added. “A detective reached out to my mom and said it was a freak accident,” Dawson continued. “He was falling from some type of landing and couldn’t stop his fall from the stairwell he was on. They said he suffered brain damage and head trauma.”

A stairwell at the Brooklyn Museum (photo by Jane Dickson/Flickr)

“Mr. Dawson attempted to slide down a banister in one of our stairwells, causing him to fall,” the Brooklyn Museum wrote Hyperallergic in an email. ” We understand he passed away at Methodist Hospital the following day.”

“The Museum has reached out to the family to share condolences,” the museum’s statement continued. “The safety of our visitors is our top priority. We’re deeply saddened by this tragic accident, and our heartfelt thoughts are with Mr. Dawson’s family and friends, and particularly those who were with Mr. Dawson that night.”

Ryan McBride, Dawson’s former roommate, said he was talking to the deceased moments before the accident. “When I came down to the first floor security was running around everywhere,” McBride told the Daily News. “Someone had fallen. It was Kirk. Security held us back. Me and a few friends went to the hospital to provide whatever support we could.”

“He was a great guy,” McBride said of Dawson. “He was very community oriented. He really loved living in New York City. Kirk made friends everywhere. A lot of people loved him.”

“He was the best person ever,” Dawson’s mother Kathy said. “You could ask anybody.”

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

8 replies on “Brooklyn Museum Visitor Dies After Trying to Slide Down Third-Floor Banister”

  1. I can’t decide whether this is a story for Fortean Times magazine “Strange Deaths” column or a nominee for a Darwin Award.

    1. And I can’t decide whether or not you should be allowed to breed and pollute the gene pool. Your gratuitous comment is a measure of just how immature YOU are.

  2. The bannister does look inviting, but those large brass knobs that are placed intermittently on the top of the handrail were probably placed there for a reason.
    And before rfdowd chastises me for not being compassionate, I have to remind him that discussions about the cause of death is a common human response.

    1. Unless they know more about the death, perhaps rfdowd should refrain from reading the comments on this article. People are always going to make crass comments or speculate about the manner of death. Perhaps until this event is fully investigated, the museum can’t offer apologizes (which might be seen as admitting the death being the museum’s fault rather than something Mr. Dawson did in case his family decides to sue). There seems to be confusion as to whether the museum reached out or not.

      Perhaps he was drunk like that woman who tried to slide down the banister at the Oculus in lower Manhattan. We only can go by what is in the article so we can’t determine fault yet.

  3. This is just sad in so many different ways, regardless of how it happened. I can only guess his friends who were at the party feel awful, like I think I would.

  4. Not really, fool. Have someone dumb it all down for you, if they can. Now crawl back into your hole. Your post is the biggest thing you will accomplish this week.

    1. “Civil discussion” says a guy who says a mother who is grieving over a young son killed in a senseless… yes, very foolish… accident should “apologize” to the museum. Mr. Vomit makes a callous, gratuitous statement for his own amusement and then pontificates about civility. LOL! Then he ends with off-the-shelf drool about problems and solutions, as if there’s a moral to his trivial little screed. Why… uh… Adios to you, too! With a great big cherry on top!

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