The Met Appoints Ernest Hemingway’s Grandson to Head Its Greek and Roman Art Department Amid a Staffing Overhaul

Max Hollein has also filled the museum's top digital position and the head of European sculpture and decorative arts post, both long vacant.

Seán Hemingway. © 2012 MMA. Photographed by Jackie Neale Chadwick - Media. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Just seven months after taking the reins at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Max Hollein is pressing ahead with plans to reinvigorate the leadership of the august institution.

Yesterday, Hollein announced several new top appointments to fill key roles left vacant after a rash of departures in the past couple years left the museum without permanent heads of various departments.

To fill the void left by former head of Greek and Roman art Carlos Picón, who left in September 2017 to join the Colnaghi gallery, Hollein has appointed Sean Hemingway, grandson of the legendary writer Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway has been at the museum for more than 20 years. In 1998, he joined the Met as an assistant curator, rising to full curator in 2010.

In 2017, he was named the acting head of the department. “In leading the department, Dr. Hemingway has been overseeing its collection, staff, exhibitions, and many other activities with grace and expertise,” Hollein said in a statement. “He has contributed greatly to the study of Greek and Roman art, through archaeological fieldwork, publications, exhibitions, and more.”

Hemingway has also maintained a special connection between his scholarship and his family, even discussing his grandfather’s favorite works of art in a feature done by the museum in 2011. In 2010, he wrote an introduction to an edition of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and his wife, Colette, wrote an essay for the Met’s Timeline of Art History about Ernest Hemingway and art in 2004.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Author: Arad, Wikimedia Commons.

The museum has also appointed Sarah E. Lawrence as curator in charge of European sculpture and decorative arts, filling the role formerly held by Luke Syson, who announced in October that he was moving to Cambridge to become director of the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Lawrence earned her Ph.D. in art history from Columbia University. She currently serves as dean of art and design history and theory at the Parsons School of Design. She was director of the graduate program in the history of decorative arts and design, a program offered jointly by Parsons and the Cooper Hewitt Museum, and was a Mellon post-doctoral fellow at the Jewish Museum.

Meanwhile, Inka Drögemüller was named deputy director for the digital, education, publications, imaging, and library departments in a newly created role. Drögemüller joins the Met from the Städel Museum and Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, where she held top positions. (Hollein was director of both institutions from 2006 until 2016.) Drögemüller starts her new post in April.

“It is with great pleasure that I announce these appointments, each of which involved intensive searches,” Hollein said. “These accomplished individuals bring unique strengths and experience to their respective roles, while sharing in their commitment to the museum’s mission. The Met’s greatest strength is its staff, and I look forward to working together in our collective effort to serve our audiences.”

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