Thomas P. Campbell Steps Down as Metropolitan Museum’s Director

The move comes amid criticism of museum's fiscal health.

Thomas P. Campbell in 2016. Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.

After months of complaints and speculation, embattled director Thomas P. Campbell is resigning from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Campbell has been the head of the institution since early 2009. He will resign effective June 30.

The news comes after a much-talked-about New York Times story that asked whether the Met is a “great institution in decline.” Such a diagnosis would seem harsh for a museum that continues to break attendance records.

The museum’s recent fashion show, “Manus x Machina,” notched more than 750,000 visitors, making it one of the museum’s all-time biggest shows. Last year, the Met was the second-most Instagrammed museum in the world, after the Louvre.

However, beneath the buzz, the Met has suffered from a multimillion-dollar deficit, a rebranding that drew a sharp (though predictable) backlash, and postponed expansion plans. Last year, it was forced to lay off dozens of employees shortly after opening the lavish new Met Breuer contemporary art annex, leading to the public sense that the museum was badly adrift.

In a statement issued by the Met, Campbell touted his achievements:

“I couldn’t be more proud of The Met’s accomplishments during my tenure as Director and CEO. In close collaboration with the Board, curators, and the entire organization, the Museum has evolved into a beacon of scholarship and understanding, not only for visitors to our New York sites, but globally through digital platforms, leadership exchanges, and more. At a moment when art and culture have an especially profound role to play in fostering mutual understanding, I am especially proud that our visitor base is the largest and most diverse in the Museum’s history. At the same time, we are on track to be financially stable and have a solid strategic path forward.”

Campbell joined the Met in 1996 as curator and expert in tapestries.

He is leaving without a successor in place. Daniel Brodsky, chairman of the board of directors, announced that he has asked the Met’s president, Daniel H. Weiss, to serve as interim CEO and to work with Campbell and curatorial and administrative leadership on a transition plan, presumably until another leader is found.

In the press release, Campbell said that it was “not an easy choice to step away, especially at such a vital and exciting moment. That said, its current vitality is what makes this the right moment to do so. I have worked hard, and I believe my efforts have paid off.”

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