Philippe de Montebello, director of the Met, announces his future retirement

10/01/2008 — Museum — New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art — Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum for more than thirty years officially announced to the Board of Trustees yesterday that he would retire at the end of 2008. The question of who would be chosen to replace Montebello who is one of the major figures in the museum world had been raised some time ago due to his age.

Born in Paris in 1936, Philippe de Montebello, after studying at Harvard and New York University, spent most of his career at the Metropolitan Museum which he entered in 1963 and where he became head in 1977, except for four and half years as director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston between 1969 and 1974.

It would be impossible to recall here everything that this institution owes to its director who practically doubled the exhibition space in thirty years. Only recently, in April 2007, the Met opened its new Greek and Roman Antiquities gallery, a remarkable success which we did not cover here as it does not fall under the time limits of The Art Tribune. We will, however, return shortly to speak about the new rooms for European painting and sculpture of the XIXth and XXth centuries which were inaugurated last month.

Under Philippe de Montebello’s direction, the museum implemented a considerable policy of acquisitions that is still being pursued today. A News item concerning the major works which have recently entered the collections will be published in a few days. Let us point out as well the innumerable first-rate exhibitions organized by the Metropolitan. A show devoted to Poussin and Nature organized by Pierre Rosenberg, and which we will review, is due to open soon.

We expect that Philippe de Montebello’s retirement, postponed as much as possible, will no doubt be as active as that of the former president of the Louvre. In an interview with the journalist Lee Rosenbaum, who asked him if he planned to return to art history, Philippe de Montebello stated that he would devote himself rather to museology and museum history. A subject that he knows well : in fact, let us remember his comments during an interview published in Le Monde concerning his opposition to the Louvre’s policy of opening an annex in Abu Dhabi.

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Didier Rykner, vendredi 11 janvier 2008

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