Board Chairman Daniel Brodsky Announces Interim Appointments
(New York, February 28, 2017)—Thomas P. Campbell, Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today that he will resign effective June 30, 2017. Campbell has served as the institution’s Director and CEO since January 1, 2009. He joined The Met in 1996 as curator and expert in the area of tapestries. Daniel Brodsky, Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Met, announced a transition plan for the Museum.
“I couldn’t be more proud of The Met’s accomplishments during my tenure as Director and CEO,” said Mr. Campbell. “In close collaboration with the Board, curators, and the entire organization, the Museum has evolved into a beacon of scholarship and understanding, not only for visitors to our New York sites, but globally through digital platforms, leadership exchanges, and more. At a moment when art and culture have an especially profound role to play in fostering mutual understanding, I am especially proud that our visitor base is the largest and most diverse in the Museum’s history. At the same time, we are on track to be financially stable and have a solid strategic path forward.”
Mr. Brodsky issued the following statement: “I and the entire Board leadership are incredibly proud of the accomplishments of the Museum during Tom’s tenure: record audience growth; installation of several suites of beautiful new galleries; emergence as a worldwide digital leader; building a curatorial team without parallel; continuing a robust exhibitions and acquisitions program; and, of course, the expansion of The Met’s commitment to its Modern and Contemporary program, most notably in The Met Breuer. Tom has led The Met in precisely the right direction during his tenure, and we look forward to continuing to make progress in the areas he and his team have led in the years ahead.”
Mr. Brodsky also announced that he has asked The Met’s President, Daniel H. Weiss, to serve as interim Chief Executive Officer and to work with Mr. Campbell and curatorial and administrative leadership on a transition plan.
Appointed in 1996 as an assistant curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts and supervising curator of the Antonio Ratti Textile Center, Campbell was a curator for 13 years, and organized two highly acclaimed tapestry exhibitions. He was appointed by The Met’s Board of Directors in fall 2008, succeeding Philippe de Montebello. During his tenure, overall museum attendance has grown by 40 percent to a record seven million across The Met’s three sites.
“I began at The Met 22 years ago as a curator and have been here almost my entire career. It was not an easy choice to step away, especially at such a vital and exciting moment. That said, its current vitality is what makes this the right moment to do so. I have worked hard, and I believe my efforts have paid off. For the next stage of my career I look forward to new challenges beyond the Met, always in service of art, scholarship, and understanding. Finally, Dan Weiss is a further reason this is an opportune moment to step away. I have worked closely with him since 2015, and I am confident his vision, level-headedness, and experience are precisely what the Museum needs to continue on its positive trajectory.”
Mr. Campbell’s accomplishments over the past eight years include the following:
Overall attendance has grown by 40 percent to a record 7 million across The Met’s three sites.
Named by Trip Advisor as the #1 museum in the world for two years in a row.
Oversight of dozens of exhibitions and publications that have been recognized with awards and citations, including:
Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
China: Through the Looking Glass
Kongo: Power and Majesty
Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom
Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France
Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World
Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age
The Drawings of Bronzino
Sultans of Deccan India, 1500–1700: Opulence and Fantasy
Interwoven Globe: The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500–1800
Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens
Preliminary studies laying the foundation for the future growth of the institution, including a five-year strategic plan; and a buildings feasibility study
Opening The Met Breuer
Appointing many new department heads (curatorial, conservation and administrative) and hiring approximately 50 new curators and conservators.
Created a dedicated Digital Department to reach a new global audience.
MetMuseum.org reaches 30 million users a year and tens of millions more through social media.
Completed the rebuilding of the American Wing
New galleries for the Islamic Department
New Costume Institute
Refurbishment of the European paintings galleries
Complete redesign of the Museum’s plaza
Oversight of many acquisitions and significant gifts, including the transformative promised gift of Leonard Lauder’s collection of Cubist art.
About The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Since it was founded in 1870, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.
Through its website and social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, The Met expands its visitor experience to people all over the world.
For additional information about the Museum, visit www.metmuseum.org.
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February 28, 2017
Director of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art resigns amid pressure
Resignation of Thomas P Campbell comes at a time of mounting pressure on the prestigious institution’s finances as it may deal with $40m deficit.
By Kevin Rawlinson
Tuesday 28 February 2017 19.36 EST Last modified on Thursday 2 March 2017 10.52 EST
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s director Thomas H Campbell has resigned amid mounting pressure over the institution’s finances.
The New York Times reported that the decision came after trustees and colleagues had become disillusioned with Campbell’s leadership after an eight year tenure in charge of one of the most prestigious museums in the world.
“I have decided to step down from my role as Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to pursue the next phase of my career,” Mr Campbell wrote in a letter on Tuesday.
Campbell will stay on at the museum until the end of June, with the Met’s president and chief operating officer Daniel H Weiss working as an interim chief executive and coming up with a transition plan.
Daniel Brodsky, the museum’s chairman, issued a separate letter, which said: “We are not looking to appoint a new director immediately but instead will take some time to consider the leadership needs of the museum in a thoughtful and deliberative way.”
During Campbell’s stewardship the museum registered record attendance numbers, but last April, Weiss announced that the museum would have to deal with a $40m deficit if it didn’t get its finances under control.
Campbell’s plan to build a $600m wing for modern and contemporary art, never transpired and former curators criticised his leadership publicly. The museum also had to deal with a class-action lawsuit that challenged the New York museum’s $25 “recommended” admission price, last year.
Campbell Op Ed in Times
The Folly of Abolishing the N.E.A.
By THOMAS P. CAMPBELL
Feb 22 2017
Four years ago, in a small warehouse in central China, a team of Chinese archaeologists showed me objects that they had unearthed from a nearby ancient tomb. Laid out on a folding table was an exquisite array of vases, ritual vessels and a set of heart-stoppingly beautiful silver gilt tigers and dragons that fit in the palm of my hand, perhaps part of a long-forgotten regal board game.
These finds were a keyhole through which we could glimpse the sophistication of the Han dynasty rulers, who, 2,000 years ago, conquered and united the enormous region that was to become modern-day China.
This week, curators and conservators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art are in Beijing working with Chinese colleagues to pack these and other objects for transportation to New York, where they will be featured in an exhibition this spring. Supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the exhibition, “Age of Empires,” will teach our visitors about the origins of China, the superpower that is now playing a major role in the balance of world power and trade.
Although the N.E.A. grant was a small part of the exhibition’s overall budget, it was crucial in persuading others to add their support. Similar grants have helped the Met mount exhibitions on the art of Jerusalem, India, Korea, Islam, Africa and Afghanistan.
Sadly, it has become clear that the N.E.A. is, once again, under threat of being abolished, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities. The purported reason is cost savings.
All too often, art is seen as a “soft” subject, the first thing to be cut, whether by local school boards or the federal government, when money is tight. But looked at purely in dollars, it is a false saving. The N.E.A.’s budget is comparatively minuscule — $148 million last year, or 0.004 percent of the total federal budget — while the arts sector it supports employs millions of Americans and generates billions each year in revenue and tax dollars.
The United States has no ministry of culture. In this vacuum, the N.E.A., founded in 1965, serves three critical functions: It promotes the arts; it distributes and stimulates funding; and it administers a program that minimizes the costs of insuring arts exhibitions through indemnity agreements backed by the government. This last, perhaps least-known responsibility, is crucial. This fall, the Met will host a major exhibition on Michelangelo that will bring together masterpieces from across the world. The insurance valuation is a whopping $2.4 billion — not even our museum, the largest art museum in the nation, could come close to paying the premium for such coverage without the federal indemnity the N.E.A. makes possible.
The grants, of course, receive the most attention, if not as much as they deserve. Thousands are distributed in all 50 states, reaching every congressional district, urban and rural, rich and poor. The N.E.A. leverages its tiny budget by giving out grants that require recipients to raise matching funds from other donors. Grants average $26,000 and require a one-to-one match for every federal dollar.
While this may sound small, it reflects the shoestring budgets on which many local organizations depend. These grants sustain the arts in areas where people don’t have access to major institutions like the Met. They support live theater for schools; music, dance and jazz festivals; poetry and literary events; arts programs for war veterans; and, of course, museum exhibitions.
Claiming that N.E.A. cuts are purely for cost savings conceals a deeper, more partisan agenda. The last time the N.E.A. was this under fire was during the 1990s, when funding was challenged for artists and institutions that refused to conform to a narrow definition of propriety. Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center, which showed Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs, and its director were even charged with obscenity.
I fear that this current call to abolish the N.E.A. is the beginning of a new assault on artistic activity. Arts and cultural programming challenges, provokes and entertains; it enhances our lives. Eliminating the N.E.A. would in essence eliminate investment by the American government in the curiosity and intelligence of its citizens. As the planet becomes at once smaller and more complex, the public needs a vital arts scene, one that will inspire us to understand who we are and how we got here — and one that will help us to see other countries, like China, not as enemies in a mercenary trade war but as partners in a complicated world.
In six weeks, dignitaries from nations around the world will gather at the Met for the opening of “Age of Empires.” And then, thousands of visitors will file into the museum, and they, too, will experience the thrill I had four years ago on that muddy flat in rural China. Even better, they will see these treasures in a historical and artistic context, so that when they leave they will have that much more understanding of China, from its ancient origins to its modern power.
Thanks, in part, to N.E.A. support.
Correction: February 25, 2017
An Op-Ed essay on Wednesday about the National Endowment for the Arts misstated a detail about the government’s spending on the agency. Its $148 million in funding last year represented 0.004 percent of the total federal budget, not of federal discretionary expenditures.
Thomas P. Campbell Steps Down As Metropolitan Museum’s Director
The move comes amid criticism of museum’s fiscal health.
Eileen Kinsella, February 28, 2017
After months of complaints and speculation, embattled director Thomas P. Campbell is resigning from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Campbell has been the head of the institution since early 2009. He will resign effective June 30.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Goes Open Access With 375,000 Images By Sarah Cascone, Feb 7, 2017
The news comes after a much-talked-about New York Times story that asked whether the Met is a “great institution in decline.” Such a diagnosis would seem harsh for a museum that continues to break attendance records.
The museum’s recent fashion show, “Manus x Machina,” notched more than 750,000 visitors, making it one of the museum’s all-time biggest shows. Last year, the Met was the second-most Instagrammed museum in the world, after the Louvre.
However, beneath the buzz, the Met has suffered from a multimillion-dollar deficit, a rebranding that drew a sharp (though predictable) backlash, and postponed expansion plans. Last year, it was forced to lay off dozens of employees shortly after opening the lavish new Met Breuer contemporary art annex, leading to the public sense that the museum was badly adrift.
In a statement issued by the Met, Campbell touted his achievements:
“I couldn’t be more proud of The Met’s accomplishments during my tenure as Director and CEO. In close collaboration with the Board, curators, and the entire organization, the Museum has evolved into a beacon of scholarship and understanding, not only for visitors to our New York sites, but globally through digital platforms, leadership exchanges, and more. At a moment when art and culture have an especially profound role to play in fostering mutual understanding, I am especially proud that our visitor base is the largest and most diverse in the Museum’s history. At the same time, we are on track to be financially stable and have a solid strategic path forward.”
Campbell joined the Met in 1996 as curator and expert in tapestries.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Lays Off Dozens in Face of Possible $40 Million Deficit
By Henri Neuendorf, Sep 28, 2016
He is leaving without a successor in place. Daniel Brodsky, chairman of the board of directors, announced that he has asked the Met’s president, Daniel H. Weiss, to serve as interim CEO and to work with Campbell and curatorial and administrative leadership on a transition plan, presumably until another leader is found.
In the press release, Campbell said that it was “not an easy choice to step away, especially at such a vital and exciting moment. That said, its current vitality is what makes this the right moment to do so. I have worked hard, and I believe my efforts have paid off.”
Director of the Metropolitan Museum, Thomas P. Campbell, Resigns Suddenly
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s director and chief executive Thomas P. Campbell resigned today after eight years serving the position.
Elisa Wouk Almino7 days ago
Thomas P. Campbell suddenly resigned today as the director and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. He had held the position for the past eight years, prior to which he was a tapestries curator in the museum’s department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts. He will step down on June 30, the end of the fiscal year. The Met’s president, Daniel H. Weiss, will serve as the interim chief executive while the museum selects its next and 10th director. “I couldn’t be more proud of The Met’s accomplishments during my tenure as Director and CEO,” said Campbell in a press release.
In reporting this news at the New York Times, Robin Pogrebin deduces that Campbell “resigned under pressure.” The Met, it’s now widely known, is in dire financial straits, as reported by Pogrebin. The museum is currently facing a deficit of $40 million and last year it was forced to fire 34 members of its staff, engendering a less-than-amicable work environment, with curators also being asked to cut back on spending and acquisitions. The assumption in the Times piece seems to be that the museum pushed out Campbell in order to address its economic issues.
In 2014, I was an intern in the Met’s education department, and soon after I briefly worked as a contractual educator. The summer internship offered me the opportunity to hear about the inner workings of the museum, specifically as it prepared to open the Met Breuer in the old Whitney Museum building — which cost the Met roughly $15 million to renovate and currently demands $17 million a year in upkeep. There was a lot of excitement about expanding the museum’s collection and programming, particularly in the areas of modern and contemporary art. Curators were looking forward to collaborating between departments and planning exhibitions that intersected across time periods and cultures. (The culminating project, in retrospect, seems to have been the Breuer’s inaugural and overpromising exhibition, Unfinished.) Campbell emphasized to the museum’s interns that one of his top priorities was scholarship — a noble and sensible pursuit for a major museum, but perhaps also a reflection of someone who has more the mind of a curator than a businessman.
“The Museum has evolved into a beacon of scholarship and understanding, not only for visitors to our New York sites, but globally through digital platforms, leadership exchanges, and more,” Campbell said in the press release of his time at the museum. “I am especially proud that our visitor base is the largest and most diverse in the Museum’s history.” Under his directorship, attendance across the institution’s three locations grew 40% to seven million a year.
To attract these audiences, the museum underwent a fair amount of rebranding. Campbell invested in building up the Met’s online presence and created a much-needed digital department. Early last year, the institution adopted a new (and frankly dull) logo. But diversity is not something the Met can boast about just yet. The lack of diversity among visitors was a concern when I was at the museum, and it should continue to be one — the most recent event I attended there was almost exclusively populated by white women over the age of 50.
Some of Campbell’s endeavors never came to fruition, including a new wing for modern and contemporary art that would have cost the museum $600 million. Others, including the Breuer and its excellent Kerry James Marshall retrospective, as well as an impressive acquisition of Cubist art donated by Leonard A. Lauder, have largely been deemed successes.
As for the next director, signs seem to be pointing, for better or worse, toward someone less invested in lofty ideals and more in practicalities. One can only hope, however, that the Met doesn’t go for a usual white and male suspect.
singing lark • 5 days ago
I don’t care about the race, gender, or ethnicity of the hire….That is not the only thing to consider – for crying out loud!! Why the final sentence?
I just hope they hire somebody who can SAVE THE METROPOLITAN. Hard to believe it has come to this…..It is one of the most important cultural institutions in the world.
But in a world in which the NEA and NEH are on the chopping block…oh how depressing.
Where are all those filthy rich philanthropists when they are needed?
Why even have NYC without the MET?
• Reply•Share ›
Jane Erickson • 6 days ago
I recently watched a lengthy documentary about the museum on Youtube. It was absolutely wonderful, and whetted my appetite to come and spend days viewing its treasures of art. It is definitely on my bucket list (I live in Vancouver, Canada, and I am a pensioner, over 60 years young). I wonder if New York is maybe not the best tourist city for low-income travelers. There’s nothing else I want to see there, even if I do get through customs and immigration!
• Reply•Share ›
Sebastopol • 5 days ago
“One can only hope, however, that the Met doesn’t go for a usual white and male suspect.”
Are you actually suggesting that the Met board of trustees not consider candidates (suspects?) for the position that are caucasian and male?==============================================
Metropolitan Museum Director Thomas Campbell Resigns
By Jackson McHenry
Thomas Campbell. Photo: D Dipasupil/FilmMagic
Thomas Campbell, who was appointed director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum in 2008, resigned today, according to the New York Times. Over the course of Campbell’s tenure, the museum endured serious debt, major layoffs, criticized renovation plans, and a misguided new logo. Campbell, who previously worked as a tapestries curator, will stay on with the museum until the end of the fiscal year in June, while Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president and COO, will act as its interim chief executive. Now, the search begins for someone savvy (and snooty) enough to head up the museum.
Thomas Campbell Resigns from Met Directorship
February 28, 2017 by Marion Maneker
The New York Times, which ran a long story that put immense pressure upon the director, announces that he has resigned:
The Met said that Mr. Campbell would stay on until June, the end of the fiscal year, but that Daniel H. Weiss, 59, the Met’s president and chief operating officer, would serve as interim chief executive, working with Mr. Campbell and the museum’s leadership work on a transition plan while the museum searches for a successor. “We are not looking to appoint a new director immediately,” said Daniel Brodsky, the museum’s chairman, in a separate letter, “but instead will take some time to consider the leadership needs of the museum in a thoughtful and deliberative way.”
ART & DESIGN
Is the Met Museum
‘a Great Institution
Aiming ever higher, the museum
faces financial challenges that
include a deficit nearing $40 million
and expansion plans that have
been postponed for lack of funding.
By ROBIN POGREBINFEB. 4, 2017
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The bad news had been building for months at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Even as crowds poured into shows on Hellenistic kingdoms and high-tech fashion, the Met’s deficit was approaching $40 million and had forced the buyout or layoff of some 90 employees. An expansion into a satellite building cost millions of dollars more than expected. A new Met logo and marketing plan were rolled out at great expense — and greeted with ridicule. Then, last month, a new $600 million wing was postponed by several years, frustrating the Met’s efforts to become a serious player in the competitive field of Modern and contemporary art.
Tension inside the Met, the country’s largest art museum, is running so high that when curators and conservators recently wrote a letter protesting compensation cuts, the museum’s leaders chose not to show it to trustees for fear of leaks and bad publicity. Those who wanted to see the document had to go to the office of the Met’s general counsel and read it under observation.
Thomas P. Campbell, the director and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in 2014. Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times
After enjoying boom years, one of the most pre-eminent cultural institutions in the world is now struggling with missteps and the perils of overreaching at a time of uncertain resources. While many museums face financial and competitive pressures, the Met’s troubles are magnified, given its stature on the world stage.
How can a behemoth like the Met, the thinking goes, possibly stumble? Some curators and trustees have zeroed in on Thomas P. Campbell, the Met’s director and chief executive since 2008, as well as the board that has backed him. The anguish can be intense, given the love that all involved have for the Met.
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“It’s a tragedy to see a great institution in decline,” said George R. Goldner, who in 2014 retired after 21 years as the chairman of the Met’s drawings and prints department and has since served as a consultant to the museum. “To have inherited a museum as strong as the Met was 10 years ago — with a great curatorial staff — and to have it be what it is today is unimaginable.”
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Several people inside the museum, most of whom spoke anonymously for fear of losing their positions, said the Met under Mr. Campbell had tried to do too much too fast: overhiring in the digital department; overspending on an additional building, the Met Breuer, and on rebranding; overdrawing from unrestricted endowment funds to cover costs; emphasizing Modern and contemporary art at the expense of core departments; and pursuing the new wing before the financing was in place.
Instead, the Met should have been contracting, given falling revenue from its retail stores and admission fees and rising expenses.
At the same time, some hope that by reckoning with its troubles, the Met is poised to turn a corner.
“We’re getting to the same page,” said Keith Christiansen, the chairman of the Met’s European paintings department. “One benefit from all this: It’s brought the departments together with the administration to sit down at a common table, and that’s something. Now what do we do to move forward and make sure the mission of the museum is not compromised?”
Efforts to right the ship have been difficult and painful. In addition to staff cuts, curators were asked to curtail spending for shows and acquisitions. The Met stages nearly 60 exhibitions a year, far more than most museums, but now expects to reduce its exhibitions to about 40 a year.
Instead of moving forward with the architect David Chipperfield on a wing intended to help attract art and money from contemporary collectors, the Met has been forced to prioritize the replacement of its aging skylights and roof above the European paintings galleries.
In an interview, Mr. Campbell acknowledged that the museum had “been through a trying year.”
“My colleagues have every right to feel upset,” he said. “At the same time, one has to step back and look at the success of the institution.”
To be sure, most agree that the museum’s expansive collections and ambitious exhibitions remain strong. The recent Kerry James Marshall survey at the Met Breuer was widely judged a success, though some critics say the museum’s first retrospective of a living black artist would have been even more momentous in the hallowed main building.
In addition, the museum’s attendance has increased to about seven million visitors a year, including the Cloisters. The Breuer, which opened in March, has drawn 557,000 visitors, exceeding projections.
“We’ve got a whole Modern art collection in the Breuer we didn’t have before,” said Hamilton E. James, a Met trustee. “Attendance is at all-time records; critical acclaim has never been as good. An awful lot of wonderful things have gone on.”
Moreover, Met officials say, many cultural institutions have been grappling with a structural deficit — when costs exceed revenues, despite a strong economy. The Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum, for example, also recently offered buyouts — though they did not then move to layoffs. The New York Philharmonic has delayed the tentative date for opening its $600 million rebuilt hall to get a better sense of its cost. And the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is struggling to raise nearly half the $600 million needed for its expansion.
The new Met Breuer, which opened in March, has drawn 557,000 visitors, exceeding projections. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times
While the Met charged Mr. Campbell with strengthening the museum’s Modern and contemporary art activities, his focus on the Met Breuer and new wing has been controversial. Why try to compete with the new Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art, some ask, instead of sticking to what the Met already does best?
Mr. Campbell said he had aimed “to sustain an environment in which scholarship could flourish and be the engine of our program, as well as to expand our audiences, to digitize the institution and to revisit what it is to be an encyclopedic museum.”
“We’ve made remarkable progress, but these things are flexible, and they need modulation,” he added. “In the same period, we have had to balance our expenditures and our income. In light of that, we’re certainly doing some recalibration on the goals we’ve set ourselves.”
Why the Met Should Appoint a Female Director
By LIZA OLIVERMARCH 2, 2017
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A fragment of a 14th-century B.C. head of an Egyptian queen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times
On Tuesday, Thomas Campbell, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s director, announced his resignation. This opening provides the Met’s board an opportunity to consider naming its first female director in the museum’s 147-year history.
Unfortunately, at least one report indicates that the Met’s trustees may already be looking at Daniel Weiss, the current president and chief operating officer, as Mr. Campbell’s replacement. It is surprising that an institution whose innovative curatorial departments have lately acknowledged the diversity of the art canon with exhibitions on Kerry James Marshall, Nasreen Mohamedi and the early modern global textile trade, to name a few, remains so myopic in its hiring at the highest levels of administration.
This oversight, to characterize it charitably, is representative of larger patterns of perhaps unintentional bias that continue to pervade museum culture. A quick sampling of the country’s largest and most visited collections reveals that the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the National Gallery of Art, among others, have never had female directors, even if some of those museums have had women serve as president or chief financial officers. Sonnet Stanfill, a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, recently wrote an Op-Ed in The Times encouraging the V & A and the Tate museums to consider women as candidates for director, speaking to the pervasiveness of this problem in European museums as well.
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This bias against female leadership sometimes extends to museums’ efforts to integrate museum education with academic art history. For example, since 1952 the National Gallery of Art in Washington has been the host of the annual A. W. Mellon Lectures in Fine Arts, intended to give leading scholars a forum to discuss their research. In 64 years, seven women have been invited to give presentations at this lecture series, and only one of those seven was a woman of color. It is not just female artists who are underrepresented in museums, but female scholars as well, particularly those of color. According to a 2014 study conducted by the Association of Art Museum Directors, this has a direct impact on the kinds of artists whose work is exhibited, or more to the point not exhibited.
Is the reason for such slights a dearth of qualified women? Hardly. Roughly 70 percent of curators in the United States are women, and women outnumber men in doctorates attained in art history, a requirement for academia and increasingly necessary for curatorial jobs.
There are several theories for why no woman has yet to serve as director of the Met. One is that boards unwittingly hire in their own image. Another is that donors prefer dealing with men and may be less likely to take a woman seriously. Yet another, that many women would not want a directorship because its demands would take them away from the priorities of family and child-rearing.
Behind each of these conclusions is an outdated premise. As a woman who works at a leading liberal arts college driven by female leadership broadly and by African-American women particularly, I can attest that there is no shortage of women who would be up for the task of director from both within and beyond the Met’s walls.
Over the past several decades, art history has become a diverse field. The country’s largest museum should lead by example and choose, or at the very least consider, a director who represents that diversity.
Liza Oliver, an assistant professor of art history at Wellesley College, was a fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2014 – 2015.
How to Fix the Met: Connect Art to Life
By HOLLAND COTTERMARCH 1, 2017
A view of the Met’s European Sculpture and Decorative Arts space. Much of the museum’s encyclopedic collection now means little to younger visitors. Credit Benjamin Norman for The New York Times
The departure of Thomas P. Campbell as director and chief executive officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art comes as no surprise.
But from the time he took over from Philippe de Montebello in 2009, there were doubts — not about his art expertise; his credentials are sterling — but about his managerial chops. Scholarship won’t get you far in leading an institution as complex, high maintenance and structurally antiquated as the one he inherited.
Trouble was already brewing when he took over. Cultural tides in America had turned, and the Met hadn’t turned with them. The audience for art, and for the traditional art museum, was changing. So the Met had to change, basically from a 19th-century analog museum to a 21st-century semi-digital institution. But nobody knew quite how.
Armies of selfie-takers-and-sharers were arriving, more interested in photogenic events, like the Costume Institute’s theatrically installed “Manus x Machina” show last year, than in archival objects. They kept the attendance numbers high, but unevenly distributed. Some 750,000 visitors saw “Manus x Machina,” while worthy scholarly shows went all but unvisited. Such imbalances have to worry any institution, and will eventually start to determine what is put on the bill.
With the precipitous decrease in art and history education in schools, much of the museum’s encyclopedic collection now means little to younger viewers. It feels foreign and remote and unsociable in a way that contemporary art, with its familiar references, does not. The Met has its own strong education program, but its effects seem to be uncertain and selective. A generation or two ago, the museum’s Renaissance painting galleries were crowded places; today, even after a splendid refurbishment, they draw scant traffic.
A new emphasis on contemporary art was reinforced by people who ran the museum itself. Mr. de Montebello was hostile to new art; he disparaged it outright. But when he retired, the board of directors was hot for it. They made Mr. Campbell’s pursuit of the contemporary a condition of hiring. Did no one notice that any buying would be at the top of a bloated market? That a Jeff-Koons-whatever would cost more than Mr. de Montebello’s $45 million-plus Duccio, “Madonna and Child”?
In any case, contemporary was a field Mr. Campbell didn’t know much about — his specialty was European tapestry — so he was learning on the job, just as he was in his push to give the museum a digital presence, which entailed the hiring of a whole new staff.
All of this, of course, cost a bundle. The Met has been in economic straits before. (At times in the 1970s and ’80s, certain galleries were often closed because the museum couldn’t pay enough guards.) But on Mr. Campbell’s watch, finances took a steady plunge and the fallout has been embarrassingly messy, with personnel laid off and an expansion to accommodate Leonard Lauder’s gift of $1 billion of modern art “postponed.” Through everything, the exhibitions have been strong. Yet even those began to show signs of erosion. Planned loans for the recent “Jerusalem: 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven” had to be pared back. The schedule of future shows has shrunk by a third.
Where has the money gone? To what some people see as crazy things: an absurdly costly rebranding campaign; dubious digital initiatives; and the leasing of the Whitney Museum’s Breuer Building, with the idea of making the Met a contemporary art contender. Again, purely in terms of art, the Breuer venture, after a rocky start, has been a success, though a hugely expensive one.
For a while now, the museum has been looking good, but not feeling that way. I’ve often picked up a sense that people were gunning for Mr. Campbell early on, ready to find that he could do no right. I’ve also sensed that the museum had increasingly entered a state of drift. Crowds herd through; curators do what they do. But the fizz generated by an institution really on the go is flat.
What could revive it? Solvency would help, although I, who can’t balance a checkbook, can say nothing useful on that subject.
What I can talk about is art, and how a museum can make people care about it. If historical art is now a hard sell, and it is, learn to sell it hard. That means, among other things, start telling the truth about it: about who made objects, and how they work in the world, and how they got to the museum, and what they mean, what values they advertise, good and bad. Go for truth (which, like the telling of history, is always changing), and connect art to life. Mix things up: periods, functions, cultures. (You can always unmix them.) Let audiences see that old is always new, if viewed through knowledge.
To present art this way — to pitch it, advocate it, make it snap to life — is to rethink the basic dynamic of a museum, turn it from passive to active, from archival to interactive, while letting it be all of these. This is the work of curators, and the Met has some fantastic ones. But to do their job boldly and radically, they need the attentive, encouraging permission of an alert director, probably meaning one who isn’t also saddled with being the company’s chief accountant.
Right now, America is in an emotionally and morally raw moment. Diversity everywhere is under attack; the culture wars are back. Our cultural institutions cannot not react. Mr. Campbell did so, mainstream, last month in a New York Times Op-Ed article on why art matters, demanding the preservation of the National Endowment for the Arts, which is now under threat. It was an important statement, a valedictory gesture, it turns out, and a worthy one. It set an example of public activism that his Met successor should heed and follow.
And about that successor, I’ll just say this to the Met’s board: Put women on your short list of potential hires as director. It’s time. And bring more African-Americans and Latino curators to your staff (and to your short list). It’s time. These are crucial steps to getting a cherished antique of an institution tuned up for 21st-century life. It’s time.
Correction: March 3, 2017
A Critic’s Notebook article on Thursday about the Metropolitan Museum of Art misstated the name of the department within the Met that presented last year’s “Manus x Machina” exhibition. It is the Costume Institute, not the Fashion Institute.
Metropolitan Museum’s Director Resigns Under Pressure
By ROBIN POGREBINFEB. 28, 2017
Thomas P. Campbell, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s director and chief executive, in 2014. Mr. Campbell announced on Tuesday he was leaving both posts. Credit Karsten Moran for The New York Times
Thomas P. Campbell resigned under pressure on Tuesday as the director and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, after months of growing concerns among staff members and some trustees about its financial health and his capacity to lead the largest museum in the country.
Met officials said that Mr. Campbell would stay on until June, the end of the fiscal year, but that Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president and chief operating officer, would be simultaneously serving as interim chief executive. Mr. Weiss will work with Mr. Campbell and the museum’s leadership on a transition plan while the Met seeks a new director, one of the most powerful in the art world.
“We are not looking to appoint a new director immediately,” said Daniel Brodsky, the museum’s chairman, in a letter to board and staff members, “but instead will take some time to consider the leadership needs of the museum in a thoughtful and deliberative way.”
The Met said that Mr. Campbell, 54, had made the decision to leave the job he had held for eight years. But the circumstances surrounding his departure point to his being forced out. As The New York Times reported extensively in an article in early February, Mr. Campbell’s financial decisions and expansion plans had been criticized by some trustees, curators and other staff members. During the last couple of years, despite the museum’s record attendance, much of his original agenda was rolled back because of the museum’s economic difficulties, including a soaring deficit.
The sudden end to Mr. Campbell’s tenure came in recent days after key board members — including Hamilton E. James, who leads the Met’s finance committee — insisted it was time for him to go, according to people inside the Met who spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal confidential conversations and personnel decisions.
Daniel H. Weiss, the Met’s president and chief operating officer, will assist the museum’s leadership on a transition plan while the board begins a search for Mr. Campbell’s replacement. Credit Richard Perry/The New York Times
It was Mr. James, the president and chief operating officer of the Blackstone Group investment firm, who by many accounts first sounded the alarm about the Met’s financial condition after joining the board in 2010. Mr. James declined on Tuesday to be interviewed.
The full board was not informed of Mr. Campbell’s resignation until Tuesday afternoon, having been summoned to a conference call only an hour before. According to one trustee who spoke on condition of anonymity — having been instructed by the board chairman not to speak to the news media — Mr. Brodsky started the call by introducing Mr. Campbell, who then read his full statement in what the trustee called a “trembling voice.”
Mr. Brodsky said that he would take no questions, but would see everyone at the next full board meeting in two weeks.
No mention of a search committee was made on the call. This was a distinct change from the departure of Mr. Campbell’s predecessor, Philippe de Montebello, when Annette de la Renta and S. Parker Gilbert, then both vice chairs of the Met board, were simultaneously announced as the chairwoman and vice chairman of the search committee.
In response to Mr. Campbell’s exit, Mr. de Montebello said in a telephone interview: “I wish him well in his new endeavors. The Met is a great institution and I’m sure it will thrive in the future under new leadership.”
Mr. Campbell, in his letter to staff and trustees on Tuesday, wrote that he had decided to step down “in order to pursue the next phase of my career.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of The Met’s accomplishments during my tenure,” he wrote.
Just how an institution as august and professional as the Met found itself in a financial emergency during a strong economy became the subject of public consternation, and some of the blame fell on Mr. Campbell as its chief executive.
There were buyouts and layoffs; the digital staff he built up had to be pared down. His plan to construct a $600 million wing for Modern and contemporary art, for the museum’s 150th anniversary in 2020, was postponed indefinitely. Several of his key hires were let go.
In 2015 Mr. Weiss, formerly president of Haverford College, was hired, a move viewed by many inside the Met as a way to bring in an experienced administrator to compensate for Mr. Campbell’s managerial inexperience.
When Mr. Weiss came on board, he quickly announced that the Met would face a $40 million deficit unless it swiftly addressed spiraling costs and built revenue.
But many inside and outside the Met have also questioned the role of the board in the Met’s difficulties. The board, after all, backed Mr. Campbell’s decision to take on a temporary expansion into the Met Breuer. (The Met Breuer building cost about $15 million to refurbish after the Whitney Museum of American Art left, and it costs $17 million a year to run.) The board also approved Mr. Campbell’s efforts to bulk up the museum’s digital staff.
The board initially promoted Mr. Campbell with a mandate to strengthen the museum’s Modern and contemporary art activities. Without that commitment, the understanding goes, the Met would not have secured Leonard A. Lauder’s game-changing gift of Cubist artworks, valued at more than $1 billion, which require a worthy exhibition space.
The degree to which Mr. Campbell lost ground with curators was striking, given that he came from their ranks, having spent 15 years at the museum as a tapestry specialist before becoming director in January 2009.
But the Met also has had critical and popular success under Mr. Campbell, seeing its attendance rise to about seven million visitors a year (including the Cloisters). And the Met Breuer, which opened in March, has drawn 557,000 visitors — more than projected — exceeding the Whitney’s annual attendance in that building.
Moreover, the Met has had many acclaimed exhibitions under Mr. Campbell, including “Pergamon and the Hellenistic Kingdoms of the Ancient World” last year, and its recent Kerry James Marshall survey at the Met Breuer was considered groundbreaking.
Mr. Campbell will have to give up his Met apartment across from the museum at 993 Fifth Avenue. It is worth millions of dollars, part of his hefty compensation package, which was about $1.4 million in 2015, according to the most recently available tax forms.
While many in the art world have speculated about who might replace Mr. Campbell, no clear leading candidates have surfaced. Among the names often floated are Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Glenn Lowry, director of the Museum of Modern Art; both are engaged in their own major building projects. But they specialize in Modern and contemporary art, and the Met seems ambivalent about how much to commit to that area.
Others have wondered whether Mr. Weiss, 59, might succeed Mr. Campbell since he has proved proficient as a financial steward and steadying force and is liked by the staff. In addition to an M.B.A., Mr. Weiss has a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Western medieval and Byzantine art.
According to a senior executive in the art world with knowledge of the board’s thinking on the succession plan, who refused to be identified because of the sensitive situation, the trustees intend to use the next few months to see if Mr. Weiss is up to the job.