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Text of Met Director’s Job Description: Could You Be the Next Philippe?

Wanna be the Metropolitan Museum’s next director? For what it’s worth, here’s the complete official job description (hard to read here, but I’ll translate below):


A list of possible candidates was recently submitted to the trustees’ search committee by the Met’s headhunters, Phillips Oppenheim. (Don’t bother looking for the job description on that site; it doesn’t even mention the Met as a client.) I was told by two different sources that the candidates’ list skews young. Kate Taylor, who has a story in the NY Sun about New York’s succession obsession, was apparently told the same thing, and we were both also told that Timothy Rub, director of the Cleveland Museum (who, at 56, is not all THAT young) is on the list. Can he really get up and leave Cleveland before its renovated and expanded facility is functional? Ay, there’s the Rub. (How many times has he had to put up with THAT Shakespearean allusion?) The European and American paintings galleries are supposed to reopen later this year, so that’s a start.

Formerly director of the Cincinnati Art Museum, Rub was a somewhat surprising choice when he was named to the much more prestigious Cleveland post in January 2006. Cleveland was then already closed for its major Rafael Viñoly-designed overhaul. I’ve spoken to Rub once and my first impression was favorable. I do know that his views on cultural-property issues differ, at least in one respect, from Philippe de Montebello‘s (not necessarily a bad thing). Cleveland, of course, has its own cultural-property issues with both Italy and Greece (here and here).

To see a video of Rub describing Cleveland’s construction project, holding his jacket casually slung over his right shoulder, Frank Sinatra-style, and expressively waving his hardhat in his left hand, go here. He ends his well-spoken tour with a jaunty, “Pretty cool, huh?” And he does look younger than his advanced years!

With its preference for youth, the search committee apparently disagrees with my recent comment on WNYC‘s Soundcheck Smackdown that a well seasoned professional, rather than a come-lately, might be the best choice to assume the deanship of American art museums. I guess they’re keen on discovering someone who may vie with Philippe for number of years in office.

If you don’t think you’re quite ready for the Met’s top job, the requirements for the next director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum can be found at the above-linked Phillips Oppenheim website. Just click on “Current Searches” and scroll down to “Solomon…” You will discover that “having lived in another country [is] a plus.” Will Abu Dhabi become the new main office?

But back to the Met. Here, in full, are the above-pictured document’s two paragraphs on “Requirements”:

The Director’s qualifications should include: a commitment to the Museum’s mission and the primacy of the collection; ability to embody its standards of scholarship and curatorial excellence and to articulate and uphold the values of the institution; passionate connoisseurship with a broad, informed appreciation of art or the facility to acquire it beyond an area of specialization; respect for and strong support of curatorial talent; able to represent effectively the institution to its constituents and play a leadership role in the international art world; capacity to lead a large institution and to develop and articulate its strategic course; ability to engage a sophisticated board of trustees; enthusiasm for and effectiveness at cultivating donors, collectors and other supporters; excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to motivate, direct and hold accountable a highly skilled staff in a notably collegial environment; effective abilities delegating and communicating expectations; experience setting rigorous standards and inspiring others to achieve them; record of recruiting and mentoring exceptional professional talent; a practiced, effective and confident decision maker who inspires trust; a doctorate is desirable but not required [as it wasn’t of Philippe].

The individual will be: a person of unassailable integrity, diplomatic and tactful; a strong leader who is decisive, fair and a confident and wise delegator; a broad-minded humanist who inspires institutional pride; highly intelligent; a good communicator and an even better listener; flexible and in possession of a sense of humor.

In other words, trustee emerita Jayne Wrightsman was right (but was not my source for the above document) when I asked her about the status of the search, during a chance encounter at the press preview for the Met’s new show, Medieval and Renaissance Treasures from the Victoria and Albert Museum. Smiling at me as enigmatically as the Vermeer that she famously donated to the Met, its long-time patron declared:

We’re not letting Philippe go. We are going to clone him!

Then she went back to admiring the objects:


Jayne Wrightsman, left, raptly gazing into a display case at the Met’s loan show from the Victoria and Albert Museum, with guidance from the V&A’s director of collections, Paul Williamson (In the foreground: Dragon Aquamanile, Mosan, ca. 1120)

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