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Metropolitan Museum Director Named: Thomas Campbell

Campbell.jpg
Thomas Campbell

[NOTE: Subsequent CultureGrrl coverage of Campbell's appointment is here and here,]

The press release just hit my inbox, so read it along with me, won’t you?

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that Thomas P. Campbell – an accomplished curator with a specialty in European tapestry who has worked at the Museum since 1995 – has been elected its next Director and CEO, succeeding Philippe de Montebello, who announced in January his intention to retire from the Metropolitan Museum at the end of this year. Mr. Campbell, who organized the groundbreaking and widely acclaimed exhibitions Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence (2002) and Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor (2007), is currently Curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts as well as Supervising Curator of the Museum’s Antonio Ratti Textile Center. He was elected at today’s meeting of the Board of Trustees and will assume the directorship of the Metropolitan Museum on January 1, 2009.

“As we move forward in this new millennium, and into a new era for this great institution, it is with the highest level of enthusiasm that I announce the election today by the Board of Trustees of Tom Campbell as the ninth Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” said James R. Houghton, Chairman of the Board of Trustees. “He is a distinguished art historian and outstanding curator, who is
an ardent advocate for scholarship, connoisseurship, and the highest museum standards, as well as a solid manager and diplomat accustomed to preparing all facets of major exhibitions, from securing loans internationally to writing major catalogues and participating in all of the related administrative aspects of these projects. Tom’s leadership qualities will be apparent to all, as will his many other great attributes, perhaps the most evident of which is his great passion for art, the very raison d’être of the Museum. Respected universally in his field and by his colleagues at the Met, he is equally respectful and at ease with the global constituencies of this encyclopedic museum, its friends and supporters in New York, and its large, diverse, and talented staff. We are delighted that he will take over the reins of the directorship from Philippe de Montebello, who has led the institution brilliantly for the past 31 years and who leaves it as, quite simply, the greatest art museum in the world.”

Annette de la Renta and S. Parker Gilbert, who served as chair and vice chair of the Trustee Search Committee, respectively, commented: “We are extremely grateful to our colleagues for their diligence and commitment to the challenging process which led us to a recommendation of which we are all so proud. The committee had many exceptionally strong candidates from which to choose. In the end, we believe it speaks volumes about the caliber of the Metropolitan Museum’s brilliant professional staff that – after conducting a wide-ranging, exhaustive, truly global search for Philippe de Montebello’s successor – we identified the ideal candidate within the ranks of the Met’s own curators. We join our fellow Trustees in wishing Tom Campbell every success.”

Philippe de Montebello said of the announcement: “I am delighted at the choice of my successor by the search committee and subsequently by election of the Board. Tom Campbell, in my view, is absolutely the right selection, as an outstanding art historian of proven experience and judgment who fits perfectly into the long tradition of Met leadership that emerges from within the curatorial ranks, which has been the case for all but two of his predecessors in more than a century. I am confident that he will thrive in his new role, and will bring a fresh vision to the joys and challenges of running this preeminent art museum in the 21st century. He will have all of the collective support and experience that this superb Board, President, and curatorial and administrative staff will enthusiastically provide, and all of the encouragement and good wishes I can offer as well.”

Emily K. Rafferty, President of the Museum, added: “Tom has not only distinguished himself as a scholar and curator over his nearly 14 years at the Met – he has also been a wonderful colleague to those of us who support the mission of the Museum through our administrative responsibilities, one who is always responsive and creative in his recognition of the depth of the Museum’s commitment to its diverse and international audiences. I look forward to working even more collaboratively with him in the years to come, and I think I speak for all of us within the Met in offering him our warmest congratulations.”

In accepting the new position, Thomas P. Campbell commented: “I am deeply honored that the Trustees have selected me as the next Director of this extraordinary and multi-faceted Museum. I look forward to working closely with Philippe de Montebello during the coming transition period, as also with our President, Emily Rafferty. Since joining the museum in 1995, I have developed a profound respect and affection for this unique institution, its encyclopedic collections, and above all its talented staff. I pledge to them that I will do everything in my power to lead the Museum wisely and productively during the coming years. Together we will build on the Met’s traditions of scholarship and openness, to ensure that our diverse audiences continue to be welcomed, challenged, and inspired in ways that are fresh and relevant for the age in which we live.”

Thomas P. Campbell, 46, was born and raised in Cambridge, England. He received his B.A. in English language and literature from the University of Oxford in 1984, followed by a Diploma from Christie’s Fine and Decorative Arts course, London, in 1985. While studying for his Master’s degree at the Courtauld Institute of Art (1987), he discovered the extent to which mainstream art history had overlooked the major role that the tapestry medium played in European art and propaganda. During the following years, he worked to rectify this by creating the Franses Tapestry Archive in London (1987-94), which, with more than 120,000 images, is the largest and most up-to-date information resource on European tapestries and figurative textiles in the world. His early research culminated in several ground-breaking research articles and a Ph.D. from the Courtauld Institute (1999) on the art and culture of King Henry VIII’s court.

Since 1995, he has worked in the Metropolitan Museum’s Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, rising steadily through the curatorial ranks as Assistant Curator (1995-97), Associate Curator (1997-2003), and Curator (2003 to the present). During this time, he conceived and organized the major exhibitions Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence (2002) and Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor (New York, 2007; Palacio Real, Madrid, spring 2008), both of which incorporated drawings, paintings, and prints, as well as tapestries, and received widespread acclaim. The 2002 exhibition was named “Exhibition of the Year” by Apollo magazine and its catalogue won the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award (College Art Association) for distinguished exhibition catalogue in the history of art (2003). He was also responsible for enhancing the holdings of the Museum’s European textiles (including the acquisition of extremely rare tapestries and woven silks); and selecting and overseeing the rotation of textiles in the galleries of the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts.

Since shortly after his arrival at the Museum, he has also been Supervising Curator of The Antonio Ratti Textile Center, which houses the Museum’s encyclopedic collection of 36,000 textiles and is one of the preeminent centers of textile studies in the world. As such, he has been responsible for all administrative aspects of the center, including supervision and implementation of the new center; close collaboration with the 10 curatorial departments whose holdings include textiles; an advisory role in the development of the online collections management system, which now includes approximately 42,000 images and is the largest textile database available to the public in the world; the conception and development of an image database devoted to Western European tapestry, funded by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and other sources; and hosting and mentoring international textile scholars within the Museum’s fellowship program.

He has lectured and taught extensively on European court patronage and the relation of tapestries to the other arts, both to scholars and the general public, at institutions and museums in the United States and abroad. He has also published extensively on the subject of historic European textiles and their relationship to other art forms of their periods. His most recent book publication is Henry VIII and the Art of Majesty: Tapestries at the Tudor Court (Yale University Press, 2007), and his articles have appeared in leading scholarly journals such as Burlington Magazine, Apollo, Studies in the Decorative Arts, and Gazette des Beaux-Arts. He has been the recipient of awards and fellowships, including the Iris Foundation Award (Bard Graduate Center) for a scholar in mid-career deserving of recognition for outstanding contributions to the study of the decorative arts (2003). And he has also been actively involved in a wide range of advisory committees relating to the mission and administration of the Museum.

Mr. Campbell lives in Westchester County, New York, with his wife and their two children.

Carol Vogel of the NY Times has more here.

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