Saturday, March 20, 2010

De Montebello's Current Post

In 2006, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by then director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philippe de Montebello. His lecture traced the history of collecting antiquities, the development of cultural property laws, and recent disputes involving cultural heritage. It was evident that de Montebello viewed cultural heritage laws as increasingly stringent and unhealthy for the encyclopedic museum, which has a mission to collect and exhibit.

After 31 years as the Met director, Mr. de Montebello has taken on a new role: an educator at NYU's Institute of Fine Arts. He now teaches courses on the history and culture of museums and has created one course that I think is particularly exciting. He tells the NYT this week:

And this spring I’m actually teaching a colloquium, which is like a seminar with about a dozen students and another dozen auditors about issues to do with cultural property in which I figure I am an unwitting expert. And I’ve invited a number of people to teach with me so that the students get not only one point of view.

And I’ve told them from the start if you violently disagree with me and you do it in a very well-researched and well-written paper, you’ll get an A. I’m not here to tell my collecting views versus archaeologists’.

De Montebello explains that he feels the press offers a strongly "anticollecting" point of view that is in favor of source countries and archaeologists and against museums. His course is aimed at offering both perspectives on collecting. [NYT]

I know I would have signed up for that class!

1 comment:

  1. You may find it interesting to read articles on the issues raised in and in as well as in