New York University President John Sexton today bestowed an honorary doctorate on Phillipe de Montebello, director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art at NYU’s 175th Commencement Exercises in Washington Square Park. Some 19,000 graduates, faculty, staff, and guests attended the morning ceremony.
The following citation was read in conferring the Doctor of Fine Arts degree, honoris causa, on Phillipe de Montebello:
“Philippe de Montebello-born in Paris and now our fellow citizen, longest-serving and renowned director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you have held in your capable hands for three decades an encyclopedic treasure with permanent collections spanning 5,000 years of the world’s culture and embracing two million works of art. An authority in European painting with abounding expertise in both curatorial and fiscal management, you direct more than 30 special exhibitions each year-shows of luminous splendor and spectacular scope-from The Vatican Collections to Van Gogh in Arles to The Glory of Byzantium. Under your superb leadership, the Met has nearly doubled in size and acquired significant collections and masterpieces, vastly increased its exhibition space, and created and refurbished galleries gloriously exemplified by the new and majestic Greek & Roman Galleries-an architectural and museological triumph more than a decade in the making. Influential and articulate, accomplished and esteemed, you are foremost in your field as steward of the finest museum scholarship and advocate for public education and access to the arts. Even as you count among your international honors the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, the Spanish Institute Gold Medal, and the National Medal of Arts, NYU proudly claims you as our esteemed alumnus and a trustee of the Institute of Fine Arts.
Philippe de Montebello-you personify the grandeur of the Museum that is deeply cherished by our city, our nation, and indeed, the world. By virtue of the authority vested in me by New York University, I am pleased to confer upon you the degree of Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa.”