Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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An 'intriguing' oral portrait of the people behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Entertainment Weekly)

Using more than fifty interviews, award-winning writer Danny Danziger creates a fascinating mosaic of the people behind New York's magnificent Metropolitan Museum of Art. From the aristocratic, acerbic director of the museum, Philippe de Montebello, to the curators who have a deep knowledge and passionate appreciation of their collections, from the security guards to the ...

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Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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An 'intriguing' oral portrait of the people behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Entertainment Weekly)

Using more than fifty interviews, award-winning writer Danny Danziger creates a fascinating mosaic of the people behind New York's magnificent Metropolitan Museum of Art. From the aristocratic, acerbic director of the museum, Philippe de Montebello, to the curators who have a deep knowledge and passionate appreciation of their collections, from the security guards to the philanthropists who keep the museum's financial life blood flowing, Danziger brings to life this extraordinary world through the words of those who are devoted to making the Met the American institution it surely is.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

With full cooperation from one of the world's greatest art museums, London-based journalist Danziger (The Year 1000) interviewed over 50 individuals who attend to everything from the museum's artwork to its cleanliness, security, flowers and food. The result is a riveting, insightful and often touching group portrait of those who run New York's premier tourist attraction. Because the chapters are organized alphabetically, the story of how an aspiring opera singer became a waitress in the Trustees Dining Room is followed by the curator of European paintings describing how the museum acquired Duccio's Madonna and Child in 2005. Such juxtapositions reflect the varied mosaic of personalities that make up the Met, yet also serve an implicit purpose: to demystify and personalize the institution. Danziger's own curiosity is broad-ranging and infectious, and while the picture that emerges of the Met is overwhelmingly positive, issues such as curatorial bias, racial and ethnic diversity among the museum's visitors and the commercialization of museums are raised. This book is unique, highly enjoyable and will appeal to anyone-from the generalist to the specialist-interested in an intimate and rare view of the Metropolitan. (June 25)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
The Atlantic
The genius of Danziger is to get to the heart of an institution through myriad personal interviews . . . from cleaner and waitress through curator, trustee, and CEO.
Library Journal

From its proposal in 1866 as a national institution and gallery of art, the Metropolitan Museum has been the pride of eminent Americans devoted to sharing their love of art with the public. In this work of oral history, Danziger (coauthor of The Year 1000and 1215: The Year of the Magna Carta) attempts to humanize one of New York City's premiere elitist institutions and by and large succeeds. He interviewed dozens connected with the Met-not just the museum's director, Philippe de Montebello, but its trustees, curators, benefactors, and employees in various departments (e.g., plumbing, cleaning, security, merchandising, and fire safety). After a brief preface, Danziger presents the respondents talking in first person without prompting or pause. This gives the text powerful impact, although in some cases one can almost hear Danziger's questions. What all 52 interviewees seem to have in common is a love of art, of the Metropolitan Museum, and of the privilege of being associated with the museum as well as the pleasure of sharing their love with the world. Recommended for libraries with a strong interest in art or New York.
—Ilene Skeen

Kirkus Reviews
An entertaining peek behind the curtains-and the security cameras, and the interpretive signage, and the archival cases and winding basements-of Manhattan's famed house of culture. Who knew that the Metropolitan Museum of Art is New York City's foremost tourist attraction, welcoming more than four-million visitors yearly? According to pop historian Danziger (1215: The Year of Magna Carta, 2004, etc.), each of the Met's thousands of employees does, so justifiably proud are they of the world's second-largest museum (after the Louvre). Danziger lets some 50 of those employees speak for themselves in a series of first-person monologues (democratically organized in alphabetical order) preceded by one-paragraph profiles. He begins, fittingly, with immigrant, Honduras-born custodian Juan Aranda, who reveals, "the ledges on the balcony above the Main Entrance are the most difficult places to clean because they are so hard to reach." Also hard to reach are some of the prices the international art market commands, admits Keith Christiansen, a curator specializing in the earliest stirrings of the Renaissance who was able to procure a rarest-of-the-rare Duccio by appealing to the vanity of the Met's director. "Tom Hoving had his Juan de Pareja," Christiansen told Philippe de Montebello. "I don't see why you shouldn't have this toward the end of your career." For his part, Montebello proclaims, "I am the Met," and contemplates his last walk through the galleries in "maximum zenithal light." From high and low, all the people of the Met gladly own their positions and take them with the utmost seriousness, providing here a primer on the care and feeding of a massive public institution that spends andearns millions upon hundreds of millions and houses some of the nation's and the world's greatest treasures. A delectable pleasure for Met devotees.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143114260
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/25/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 487,277
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Danny Danziger currently lives in London, and Museum is his twelfth book, including the acclaimed 1215: The Year of Magna Carta and the bestselling The Year 1000.

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Table of Contents

Preface     xi
Acknowledgments     xvii
Juan Aranda, Cleaner     1
John Barelli, Chief Security Officer, Security Department     4
Carrie Rebora Barratt, Curator, American Paintings and Sculpture, and Manager, The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art     10
Michael Barry, Patti Cadby Birch Consultative Chairman, Islamic Art     19
Robert Bethea, Jr., Associate Coordinator of Information Services, Visitor Services Department     26
J. Nicholas Cameron, Vice President of Construction     30
Thomas P. Campbell, Curator, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, and Supervising Curator, Antonio Ratti Textile Center     35
Lorraine Chevallier, Waitress     42
Keith Christiansen, Jayne Wrightsman Curator, European Paintings     46
George Cuesta, Maintainer, Plumbing Shop     52
Malcolm Daniel, Curator in Charge, Photographs     56
Michel David-Weill, Trustee     60
Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Anthony W. and Lulu C. Wang Curator, American Decorative Arts     65
George R. Goldner, Drue Heinz Chairman, Drawings and Prints     71
Maxwell K. Hearn, Douglas Dillon Curator, Asian Art     80
Morrison H. Heckscher, Lawrence A. Fleischman Chairman of the American Wing     85
Harold Holzer, SeniorVice President for External Affairs     91
James R. Houghton, Chairman, Board of Trustees     98
Laurence B. Kanter, Curator in Charge, Robert Lehman Collection     102
Harold Koda, Curator in Charge, The Costume Institute     109
Henry R. Kravis, Trustee     117
Walter Liedtke, Curator, European Paintings     122
Christopher S. Lightfoot, Associate Curator, Greek and Roman Art     129
Hilde Limondjian, General Manager, Concerts & Lectures     135
Eric Longo, Director of Client Services, Antenna Audio, Inc.     139
Jessie McNab, Associate Curator, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts     143
Philippe de Montebello, Director and Chief Executive Officer     148
J. Kenneth Moore, Frederick P. Rose Curator in Charge, Musical Instruments     158
James Moran, NYPD     163
Herbert M. Moskowitz, Chief Registrar     167
John P. O'Neill, Editor in Chief and General Manager of Publications, Editorial Department     172
Sally Pearson, Vice President and General Manager of Merchandise and Retail     176
Amelia Peck, Marcia F. Vilcek Curator, American Decorative Arts     181
Stuart W. Pyhrr, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Curator in Charge, Arms & Armor     185
Annette de la Renta, Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees      192
Sabine Rewald, Jacques and Natasha Gelman Curator, Department of Nineteenth-Century, Modern, and Contemporary Art     196
Jeff L. Rosenheim, Associate Curator, Photographs     200
E. John Rosenwald, Jr., Trustee     207
Raymond Smith, Copyist     213
Kenneth Soehner, Arthur K. Watson Chief Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library     218
James Spann, Travel Associate, Tourism and Group Services, Visitor Services Department     222
Ira Spar, Research Assyriologist, Ancient Near Eastern Art     227
Donna Williams Sutton, Senior Audience Development Officer, External Affairs     232
Mahrukh Tarapor, Director for International Affairs, Geneva Office, and Associate Director for Exhibitions     236
Thayer Tolles, Associate Curator, American Paintings and Sculpture     242
Remco van Vliet, Florist     248
Lulu C. Wang, Trustee     252
William Westfield, Senior Fire Safety Officer     256
Linden Havemeyer Wise, Special Counsel, Office of the Senior Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel     261
Index     267
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    If you love the Metropolitan Museum of Art and want to know more

    This book is a behind the scenes look at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. It is a collection of interviews with curators and the support staff that makes the Museum work and thrive, even including a security guard and gift shop manager.

    There are a lot of very personal and insightful stories of happenings within the Museum walls that will really enrich your next visit there and make the place come to life. The conversations with the various curators in the different specialized galleries are especially interesting, revealing the philosophy behind the items chosen for acquisition and the vision for the department.

    Even if you never get to NYC and never visit The Met, it is probably representative of what goes on in any prestigious Art museum, so anyone who loves a day spent lost amongst treasures would undoubtedly love getting lost in this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2007


    I just this minute finished THIS WONDERFUL book. It is an extraordinary masterpiece!!!!!!!!!!!! The people involved with the Met must be thrilled. This brilliant author has shared an unknown element of this amazing museum with 'us common folk'. What a treat it is. Thank you Danny Danzinger for once again enlightening us.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 13, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 5 of 3 Customer Reviews

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