The Mystery Behind the Met Director’s Sudden Resignation

A photo taken from the outside of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, NY.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art located in New York, NY.
Photo courtesy of Roger at Flickr Creative Commons.

Last week, Thomas P. Campbell resigned from his position as Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The news sent shock waves throughout the art community. Nobody saw it coming, since there was no formal indication that anything was wrong.

But according to the New York Times, there was a lot going on behind the scenes. Unnamed sources say there was a lot of dissension within the ranks, with board members calling Campbell’s leadership capabilities into question. Financial strains in particular were a huge concern.

Daniel H. Weiss, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Met, first sounded the alarm back in 2015 when he announced that the Met would soon face a $40 million deficit unless it quickly brought costs under control. It is now rumored that Weiss will succeed Campbell as Director of the Met.

But Weiss wasn’t the only one with budgetary concerns. Sources say that Hamilton E. James, leader of the Met’s finance committee, actually insisted that Campbell step down. It was this kind of mounting pressure that ultimately led Campbell to resign.

But if there are any hard feelings, Campbell certainly didn’t show it. In a letter addressed to staff and trustees, Campbell wrote that he decided to step down “in order to pursue the next phase of my career.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of The Met’s accomplishments during my tenure,” he noted.

As far as the open position goes, Daniel Brodsky, Chairman of the Met, said that the museum will take its time in appointing a new director.

“We are not looking to appoint a new director immediately, but instead will take some time to consider the leadership needs of the museum in a thoughtful and deliberative way,” Brodsky stated.

Rumors are already surfacing that Michael Govan, Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Glenn Lowry, Director of the Museum of Modern Art, are being considered for the position. The new director won’t be announced until June.

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