Want to Be the Next Director of the Met? Here’s What the Museum Is Officially Looking For
Do you have an "excellent eye"? Can you get along well with others?
This morning, Daniel Weiss, the CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, convened an all-staff meeting to discuss the state of the institution, and provided an update on the search process to replace former director Thomas Campbell, who stepped down in February.
Overseen by Met trustees Candace Beinecke and Richard Chilton, the search has been informed by the input of “more than 400 staff members and Trustees” and “provides a unique opportunity to assess all parts of an institution, including its values, strengths, and priorities,” Weiss said in an email sent to staff following the meeting.
So what do the staff of the Met hope for in their new director-to-be? A job posting for the position was made available to artnet News, and it is very clarifying.
Sure, there are obvious prerequisites for running America’s greatest encyclopedic collection, containing more than 2 million objects and spanning 5,000 years. You need to have an “excellent ‘eye’ and a deep commitment to scholarship and education”; “be bold; innovative; self-confident”; and “be a compelling spokesperson adept at inspiring widely divergent audiences.”
However, there are some criteria that fairly obviously point to qualities that were seen to be lacking in the previous director. For instance, some of the criticism—fair or unfair—of Campbell’s tenure included allegations that he had opened the Met to the possibility of a $40 million deficit due to an exorbitant expansion plan that included a much more expansive focus on modern and contemporary art. So the posting wants candidates to “understand fiscal and operational constraints” and be able to navigate “competing priorities.”
But, from a close reading of the listing, one quality seems to be in demand above all else. In fact, it’s repeated three times, in different phrasing:
- “Be a leader, with the knowledge, gravitas, integrity, and ability to motivate and inspire a highly skilled professional staff”
- “Possess a highly developed “EQ” to ensure successful relationship building, fundraising, advocacy, communication, and team building – in short, leadership”
- “Be an engaged listener with the ability to build consensus both within the Museum and beyond”
In short, to be able to get along with the staff, and bring them on board with the director’s agenda. It has been widely reported that Campbell’s failure to win consensus from the Met’s personnel on his ambitious vision to remake the museum led to his downfall.
In a recent one-on-one interview with artnet News editor-in-chief Andrew Goldstein, Campbell was asked if he was aware his staff had been on the verge of mutiny after a series of cutbacks and departures. He responded:
“Of course, change like that is a difficult thing. The people who work at the Met are very invested in the museum. So in a period of change, you get quite a lot of turmoil, and I think the press picked up on that and presented it as a crisis. But I did not believe then and I do not believe now that there was ever any crisis.”
You can read the full job posting here:
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