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Legacy at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

by ThomPattie (01/28/08).
Euphronios art returned by the Met

Did you know the country’s most prestigious art museum, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, doesn’t charge an entrance fee? The fee is listed as twenty dollars but it’s actually a suggested donation, meaning you can pay one penny and walk in – no questions asked. It probably helps that many of its visitors are unaware of this policy; they read the listed ticket price and purchase theirs. But it’s nice to know someone who can’t afford the fee can still enjoy the art. The Met has yielded the highest profits of any museum in the nation and it is “intelligent design,” such as its entrance policy, that has kept it popular.

Phillipe de Montebello, the man responsible for smart programming and excellent management is retiring after thirty successful years at the helm. This past month, his news made all the art headlines. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times gave a retrospective of Mr. de Montebello’s contributions to the city and to the international art world, citing a combination of innovation and tradition in exhibitions that kept the public coming back for more. Mostly, an understanding and respect for the individual art enthusiast enabled Mr. Montebello to make choices that would prove popular with the visitor. He was able to uphold tradition and show a classic piece of art in a thoughtful and interesting context. His style can be an inspiration for any collector displaying their possessions.

Eric Gibson of the Wall Street Journal writes:
“In his three decades as director, Mr. de Montebello has transformed the Met into the pre-eminent art museum in the nation, if not the world. He has done this through stimulating and enlightening temporary exhibitions, important acquisitions…whole collections…and judicious collections management….But Mr. de Montebello’s impact has been as much broadly cultural as aesthetic, something that can be said of no other departing museum director….the Met has drawn in its public the old-fashioned way — routinely offering it intellectually substantial fare.”

Phillipe de Montebello understood the essence of the art experience – the one-on-one connection between person and object. He honored that experience through his presentation of collections; something we collectors seek to achieve with our own, personal objects at home. We hope this distinguished tradition continues to be upheld – both in the art world and within our own WorthPoint community.

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