Met’s “Boyish” New Director

The retirement of Phillipe de Montebello, former director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, led to the dark horse appointment of Thomas Campbell, right, whom the Economist in a recent interview describes accurately enough as “boyish” at least compared to the patrician Montebello.

In the interview, he seems like a charming and down-to-earth person, and I like that he has a strong background in art history and passion for the arts. The movement to make art more accessible to everyone often means pandering to popular tastes and dumming things down rather than explaining how something came about and why it is remarkable and beautiful. So bravo on that front.

Mr. Campbell apparently does have some some forward-thinking plans, despite the mothballs clinging to him from his forays in the archives. He plans to archive the whole collection of the Met online. Bravo again, and I know just how I would like to see it done.

The collection ought to be archived in the manner of the Rijksmuseum, whose website is a master of its type. The history and details provided about the painting are well-presented, it’s easy to navigate, and the connections it draws between paintings is an art history education in itself. There are my 2 cents, Mr. Campbell.

I hope Mr. Campbell does do well, if only because at a mere 46 years of age, he could have a tenureship as long as Montebello’s as head of the museum.

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