Once again, the deck chairs are being rearranged at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA). After the venerable Philippe de Montebello retired as director, Thomas Campbell (Blog 4/26/17) took his place, bringing with him a “new broom” approach to modernizing the institution. His plan included digitalizing MOMA’s records and reducing the number of employees whose jobs became obsolete as a result. Campbell also added modern art to the collection and replaced the museum’s logo, a woodcut by Leonardo da Vinci, with a blocky sign that read, THE MET.
The old guard, who represented “old money,” bridled at the changes and refused to support the museum. Campbell found he had no way to fill the large hole in his budget, so he lost his job in a palace revolution. The gentleman who replaced him fared no better. He returned to his office from lunch one day, after a few months on the job, to find himself locked out. He notified his staff of his ouster via his laptop while he sat on a bench across the street from the museum.
No new director reigns at the moment, but whoever fills the position will no longer be in charge of the operation. With old money in flight, new money has moved in and new money sees art as a business rather than a religion. In no mood to tolerate budget deficits, MOMA has a new chain of command. The chairman now holds the scepter, and the director becomes a bit player. (“The Other Man,” by David Freedlander, Town&Country, October 2017 pg.179.)
While this deck chairs dance continues, Campbell, the man responsible for the mess, has reaped his reward. Winner of a generous research grant, he will spend the next 8 months jet-setting between the Gerry Museum in Los Angeles and Waddesdon Manor in England. (Ibid pg. 178.) As for his successor, the man who lost his job during lunch, he’s probably still sitting on that bench across the street from MOMA wondering why.