‘The Met’s Marathon Man’–


Thomas P. Campbell, the new director of the Met is taking the iconic American museum in new directions.  One particularly promising sign, is Cambell’s focus on technology and particularly the rebuilding of the museum’s websites.  Museum websites are very powerful tools for the dissemination of event, collections and programming information but their layout is often so convoluted that their usefulness is undermined.

Another new development  which perhaps marks a trend which will be followed by other museums is the appointment of the museum’s youngest trustee at 32 years old.  As museums are increasingly marketing themselves to younger audiences, the representation of this demographic on the museum’s board will perhaps keep the museum’s programs and image more dynamic.

While these developments are interesting, what caught my eye in relation to heritage politics was the mention of the current negotiations with the Shanghai Museum.  The planned exhibition, which would be sent to the Shanghai Museum, would be a survey of Chinese art from the collections of three American museums.  The exhibition has hit a snag with the concern that objects lent for the exhibition would be claimed by the Chinese government and not returned.  This concern was heightened by a recent visit to the Met by a Beijing delegation looking for looted objects on display.   The Chinese government’s “jingoism” and “grandstanding”, as Mr. Cambell called it, in regards to its patrimony has damaged the confidence of potential lenders.   This is a analogous situation to the heightened political tensions which nearly prevented certain objects being included in the 2008 traveling exhibition From Russia: French and Russian Master Paintings 1870-1925 . The question comes to mind regarding China’s actions whether they are in fact strengthening their claims on their cultural patrimony or damaging potential long-term lending relationships with museums which contain great amounts of Chinese art?  Who does it really benefit to have all Chinese patrimony returned to China?


About projectpatrimonio

Helena Boyden Lamb, born 1985 in New York, has studied and worked in Politics, Heritage Ethics and Politics, and Opera Singing. Most recently, she is working in Brussels where she started in a European Think Tank and is now the Executive Office of a NGO which facilitates Youth Politics across the EU. She has a Bachelor with Honors from Stanford University, California in Classics: Politics and Heritage and a Masters with Honors from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK in European Identity. She has conducted academic or independent grant-funded research in the UK, France, Italy, Greece, Russia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, and Albania. She was, previously, an archaeologist and an opera singer. Cynthia Querio is a Museum Educator currently living and working in Los Angeles. She is interested in heritage and identity politics and the role of museum education departments in the trajectory of this debate. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue a 9 month graduate internship at the Getty Villa's education department and has continued to work in many museums in Los Angeles including LACMA and the Autry National Center. Her academic background is in the Classics, which was her major at Stanford University and which she continued to pursue with a Masters in the History of Classical Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
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