Over the weekend, the New York Times’s Robin Pogrebin offered a tour of the horizon for the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the city’s pre-eminent cultural institution that has somewhat unexpectedly and surprisingly entered a period of confusion:
Several people inside the museum, most of whom spoke anonymously for fear of losing their positions, said the Met under Mr. Campbell had tried to do too much too fast: overhiring in the digital department; overspending on an additional building, the Met Breuer, and on rebranding; overdrawing from unrestricted endowment funds to cover costs; emphasizing Modern and contemporary art at the expense of core departments; and pursuing the new wing before the financing was in place.Instead, the Met should have been contracting, given falling revenue from its retail stores and admission fees and rising expenses.
One of the main issues seems to be the ability to communicate internally. The Met just hired a new communications director from the New York Public Library to address the problem:
Mr. Campbell, by many accounts, has handled the economic crisis by hunkering down in a defensive crouch rather than reaching out to unite the staff — and the full board — behind his efforts. Internal critics say he failed to appreciate the upheaval caused by the turnover of three-quarters of the curatorial leadership through departures and retirements. They describe the pervasive sense that institutional memory is going out the door and the fear that the Met’s mission to educate through scholarship has been overshadowed by its desire to attract millennials through social media.
Mr. Campbell said internal relations was often a challenge at the Met, with its more than 2,200-member work force, and acknowledged that he could do better.
Is the Met Museum ‘a Great Institution in Decline’? (The New York Times)