What Philippe de Montebello Means to the World


Wonder why everyone around you is so sad to see Philippe de Montebello leave the Met at the end of the year? A great, lengthy piece by Jed Perl in the most recent issue of the Atlantic profiles the famous director of that most famous of museums, discussing the man himself, what he did for the Met, and his legacy within the art world. It’s also a great look at how the museum industry changed from when de Montebello came into the scene back in the early 60s and where he helped take it, particularly in his battle to maintain some integrity when many other museums were eager to play “the game of ‘guess which shows will fill the till.'” Here’s a bit about his management style:

Unlike most museums, the Metropolitan has no exhibition committee. Curators go straight to de Montebello, whose adventurous spirit (he has been known to add last-minute shows to already overcrowded schedules) makes for an environment in which creative people flourish. People like Carlos Picon, who installed the new Greek and Roman galleries, and Helen Evans, who organized “The Glory of Byzantium,” not only are formidable scholars, they also have a sixth sense for the most effective way to pre sent challenging material.

Our prayers are with you, Thomas Campbell. You have some big shoes to fill.