Monday, January 14, 2008

Changing of the Guard

Philippe de Montebello, the much-vaunted director of the Met announced last week that he will be stepping down at the end of 2008, after thirty years with the museum. “After three decades, to stay much further would be to skirt decency,” he said. “This has not been an easy decision — it’s wrenching for me, it’s been my entire life. But it’s time.”

Montebello’s decision to step down comes at time when the very role of a director is being revised. The pool from which to choose is quite small, and, one imagines that it would be very hard to fill Montebello’s shoes. It is interesting to note though, that the director did not have a PhD in art history just a specialty in northern French painting. In fact, the Times reports that “He arrived at the Met in 1963 as a curatorial assistant in the department of European paintings and except for four years — from 1969 to 1974, when he served as director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston — he spent his entire career there.”

For many people, he is the personification of the Met experience itself, a charge that he dismisses. But, it will be interesting to wait and watch and see what happens next with NYC’s biggest tourist attraction, and by extension, museums around the world.

A list of those presumed to be in the running:


steph said...


i have so many memories of that museum, from class trips to dates to time spent wandering the halls alone. i love it there.

madeleine said...

I know. I remember when I first went to NYC, it was one of the first places I went. Then, unlike now, you could quietly wander through the museum and see very few people...I loved it.