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Tom Campbell, Met’s Director-Elect, Meets the Press (again)

Tom Campbell, back in his open-collar days

I couldn’t get a good shot of Tom Campbell at the Metropolitan Museum’s press lunch earlier this week, because I was seated at the far rear, facing the back corner. (Are they trying to tell me something?)

So since he recently said he’s an “open collar kind of guy” and since I’m tired of running the same old headshot, I thought I’d show you his hometown newspaper’s open-collar photo of the Met’s future director, from back in the day. I won’t credit the newspaper, because that would tell you the town where he lives and the man’s entitled to some privacy. The official accounts just say that Tom lives in Westchester. I imagine that with two children who have established roots in the community, he could find moving closer to the Met a difficult decision.

I did get a shot at chatting with him before the lunch, and he told me he’s been attending all the museum’s important meetings and conducting his own tête-à-têtes with the various department têtes. He assured me he’ll have much to say about his vision going forward at the appropriate moment—once he’s in charge. Fair enough.

This is what he told the assembled scribes at the press lunch:

You haven’t heard very much from me recently because this is very much a time for me to be asking questions and taking stock. Of course I do have some ideas about where I may build on Philippe’s legacy. It’s a question of evolution rather than revolution. When the time is right, I very much look foward to meeting with you and working with you all, as we carry on the next story.

Philippe de Montebello gave his final press-lunch rundown of upcoming exhibitions and it was announced that he would become the first “director emeritus” in the Met’s history. When I shook his hand afterwards, he indicated to me that his first teaching stint at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts, a course on the history of museums, won’t begin until next fall, because he needs six months to prepare. Can I audit?

But back to the future: The article in Tom’s hometown paper about his recent Met appointment, which was published along with his younger-days photo, informs us that “Campbell brings a kindly attentiveness and English charm to interviews.” Looking forward.

an ArtsJournal blog