Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Tough Act to Follow

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has chosen a new director to replace Philippe de Montebello next year: not surprisingly, they played the process close to the vest, and not surprisingly, they chose one of their own. Thomas Campbell, curator of tapestries at the Museum, will take over the post January 1st. You can read more about Dr. Campbell and the challenges of the position in the New York Times. I suspect the choice was something of a surprise, and I also suspect some folks were weeping into their Wheaties yesterday at missing the post for themselves.

Dr. Campbell, whose degree is from the Courtauld Institute, certainly has big shoes to fill. Philippe de Montebello has been Director for 31 years and presided over any number of successes and controversies. During my ten-month fellowship at the Met back in 2000-01, I met Dr. Montebello only once, at a luncheon he hosted for the Fellows. The word 'patrician' is routinely attached to him, and with good reason: he's one of those people that makes you sit up straight in your chair and wish you'd gone to a Swiss finishing school. He oozes a certain je ne sais quoi beneath his very gracious manner. Lord of the manor, more like. I think I said five words during the whole luncheon, intimidated into silence (= a rare thing). I've not met Dr. Campbell, but the buzz about him is positive.

The Met will be honoring Dr. Montebello with an exhibition of 'greatest hits' acquisitions from his time as director, from 24 October to 1 February.


Catherine Delors said...

Thanks for the update, Sheramy! The politics sound fascinating.

This afternoon I was visiting Musee d'Orsay with my Mom, admiring the Van Goghs there, and telling her about your book. She thinks it is a wonderful topic and can't wait to read it.

Sheramy said...

The behind-the-scenes stuff at the Met (or any museum) *is* fascinating, that's for sure.

Ah, the Orsay, one of my favorite places, and one of my favorite van Goghs is there: Starry Night over the Rhone (although it's been away from the Orsay more often than not in the past couple of years, out for this or that show). I'm pleased your Mom is interested in reading my book! That makes me happy to hear!