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MacGregor and the Met: Bloomberg News Joins “Shoot the Headline Writer”

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, London
© British Museum

This headline on Bloomberg sure got my attention this morning:

British Museum’s MacGregor Was Asked to Run the Met, Said No

Who knew? But the much more carefully phrased article by Farah Nayeri seems to indicate that no such thing may have actually occurred. Nayeri writes:

British Museum Head of Press Hannah
…said, “He [MacGregor] was approached by them, he had a
conversation with them, but in the course of that conversation he
ruled himself out of the job of running the Met.”…

Asked today if he was offered the Met job, MacGregor said
only that the Met’s search committee had “a very large number of
conversations with people who were not candidates” about the
Met’s future.

Talking to many prominent people in the field is standard operating procedure for headhunters. Some merely have their brains picked; some later discover that they’re candidates. A revealing article in last May’s ARTnews, “How Headhunters Hunt” (not online at this writing), by the magazine’s editor and publisher, Milton Esterow, describes the intricate steps in this elaborate dance.

But back to the British Museum: MacGregor, who has directed it since 2002, has “agreed to lead the museum through 2012,” Bloomberg reports. It seems that museums are increasingly trying to lock in outstanding directors who are otherwise likely to have their heads hunted.

an ArtsJournal blog