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Update on the Met Museum

November 22, 2017

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On June 21st of this year, a blog titled “High Drama at the Met” appeared on this site. It’s now five months later – time to see how the beleaguered Metropolitan Museum has fared since that time. 

The Metropolitan Museum of New York

  • Where is Thomas Campbell, the fired director of the Met now?

A recent article in Town & Country magazine that appeared in October 2017 with the provocative title, “The Other Man” and a two-sentence subhead that reads, “Over the past year the Metropolitan Museum of Art has weathered unprecedented challenges. In an exclusive interview, its new leader comes clean about what happened and the big changes coming next.”

Thomas Campbell, former director of the Metropolitan Museum

About one-third of the way through the article Thomas Campbell’s name finally appears in this sentence, “He declined requests from Town & Country for an interview. However, in August it was announced that Campbell’s next gig would be as the beneficiary of a research grant that would see him splitting the next eight months between the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and Waddesdon Manor in England.” I question the use of the word “gig” – but okay.

  • Has the Metropolitan Museum hired a new director?

The short answer is “no” but Daniel Weiss, the Met president, was named the CEO upon Campbell’s departure in June 2017. In a flip-flop, the new director (yet to be appointed by the board) will report to the president. A recruiting firm has been retained but there is no official timeline for filling the position. Oh, oh, what’s happening here?

Daniel Weiss, president and CEO of the Met. Photo: courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

This is what has changed. The writer of this in-depth piece, David Freedlander, reports that “Robert Store, a onetime dean of the Yale School of Art, states that the appointment of someone with a corporate background to run the entire institution sent an unmistakable signal that the businesspeople were now in charge and that financial concerns would trump art ones.” Shortly after being named CEO however, Weiss met with the staff and assured them that all matters relating to art and exhibitions would be handled by the soon-to-be-named director.

  • What are the Met’s biggest problems at the moment?

This article is so long and detailed that it’s taken me forever to figure this out. But one thing seems to stand out more than others: lack of money to do what the Met wants to do (this sounds like most of us). So Weiss promises to:

  1. Have fewer exhibitions
  2. More trimming of back office costs
  3. A longer delay in opening a $600 million wing that would celebrate the Met’s 150th Anniversary in 2020

Remember, the museum reportedly has a $40 million debt at the present time.

  • Is the Met a great institution in decline?

Weiss answers this with a resounding, “No, I don’t believe it is. We are thriving. We have an award-winning exhibition program, our visitor numbers have never been better, and we have, for the second year, been named the best art museum in the world. In some ways the Met has never been stronger.

We have work to do, but it’s doable.”

MAY WE SUGGEST…

This has been a very tumultuous year. Thanksgiving is on Thursday, November 23rd. Let’s all just give thanks for the liberty and freedom we enjoy in this country and go forward. It’s time to enjoy this very special holiday!

Shaun Nelson-Henrick



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