Thomas Campbell has been running the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York since the financial crisis began. That has had its benefits, including a large-scale turnover in the museum’s upper ranks brought about by retirements and buyouts. But along with changes in leadership have come other priorities that, perhaps, reflect a new generation’s interests. Here’s what Lee Rosenbaum got out of him in the Wall Street Journal:
The museum’s Web site is being completely rebuilt, a process expected to take up to 18 months. At the new metmuseum.org, virtual visitors will “find the museum and its treasures represented as they should be—beautiful illustrations, thoughtful information and a database that allows you to search the vast majority of the collection,” says Mr. Campbell.
That database will be fed by what is arguably the most important (but, in his words, “not very sexy”) behind-the-scenes project that Mr. Campbell is spearheading: reconciling and unifying the separate collections-management systems developed by each of the Met’s 17 curatorial departments over the past 13 years. William Morris & Co. textiles, for example, are now scattered among three departments. Under the new system, “a curator will be instantly able to see all of them.”
“The step beyond that, which is so important, is hardly rocket science: A consolidated database will allow us to deliver information through a range of digital media platforms”—touchscreens, handheld devices, the Web site.
Perhaps most controversially, technology may also alter the size and number of the museum’s erudite, sumptuously illustrated catalogs—volumes for which the Met is famous.
The Met’s Marathon Man (Wall Street Journal)