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Metropolitan Museum&#146s Thomas Hoving Obit and De Montebello&#146s Remembrance

The Metropolitan Museum has posted no statement on its website regarding the death of its former director (which I’ve discussed here and here) and has not as yet announced plans to commemorate his contributions, either in its galleries or with a memorial event.

But it has placed the following classified obit in today’s NY Times:

The Trustees and staff of The Metropolitan Museum of Art mourn the passing of Thomas Hoving, who for the decade from 1967 to 1977 was Director of this institution.

With enormous energy and ability, and with magnificent breadth of understanding about art, he presided over an era of unparalleled growth and change that included the creation of the Museum’s ambitious master plan for expansion. He had a discerning eye that guided, with great distinction, the Metropolitan’s acquisitions of works of art that now reside throughout the encyclopedic collection, many of them as stars.

To the museum-going public in the broadest sense, he opened museums on an international scale in terms of accessibility and enjoyment, and this is perhaps his greatest legacy. We extend our deep condolences to his wife and to the entire family.

Philippe de Montebello‘s comments on the passing of his mentor are reported today by Verena Dobnik of the Associated Press:

Hoving “really wanted to open up the museum, to make it a more dynamic, welcoming institution,” said former Met director Philippe de Montebello, whom Hoving had groomed as his successor.

“I
loved working for Tom,” de Montebello said Thursday in a telephone
interview. “He was exhilarating, scintillating, brilliant.”

I hope that the NY Times has assigned a critic to do an appraisal of Hoving’s tenure, following up on today’s front-page obit by Randy Kennedy. What interested me about that obit, from a journalistic standpoint, is that it seemed to go up on the web piecemeal yesterday, meaning that Randy may have been putting it together on the fly—an extraordinary accomplishment. Usually for major figures who warrant front-page treatment, newspapers prepare obits in advance, so that they’re ready to run when the day comes.

an ArtsJournal blog