Long-Time Director of Metropolitan Museum of Art Will Also Act as Special Advisor for NYU’s Abu Dhabi Campus

Philippe de Montebello Photo by:  Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
Philippe de Montebello Photo by: Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

Long-Time Director of Metropolitan Museum of Art Will Also Act as Special Advisor for NYU’s Abu Dhabi Campus

New York University today announces the appointment of Philippe de Montebello - one of the most prominent, admired, and respected figures in the world of art and museums - as the first Fiske Kimball Professor in the History and Culture of Museums at NYU’s renowned Institute of Fine Arts. His appointment will be effective as of January 2009, or upon the arrival of his successor as director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The announcement will be made at a black-tie dinner tonight celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Fine Arts (IFA) to honor real estate developer, patron, and philanthropist Sheldon H. Solow, an emeritus trustee of the IFA.

Mariët Westermann, director of the IFA and vice chancellor for NYU Abu Dhabi, said, “There is no voice more recognizable, more cogent, or more powerful in the world of art and museums than that of Philippe de Montebello. His extraordinary leadership of the Metropolitan Museum of Art - one of the world’s greatest museums - contributed incalculably to New York’s stature as an international capital of art, culture, and ideas, and in so doing he has vastly improved the public’s respect for, understanding of, and love of art. We at the Institute have known him as an outstanding neighbor, alumnus, and colleague, and so we are very pleased that he will bring his wisdom, his experience, his vitality, his insight, and his vision to NYU and the Institute of Fine Arts.”

Mr. de Montebello said: “I am thrilled to be rejoining the IFA as a member of its distinguished faculty. In this new phase of my career, I will move from a life of action in the art field to one of reflection-and, of course, pedagogy. My courses and seminars will be about ideas, not museum management or practice, but through them I hope to inspire new generations of gifted graduate students in art history to look favorably on opportunities in the museum world of the future.”

Mr. de Montebello will also serve as special advisor on NYU Abu Dhabi, the comprehensive liberal arts and science campus NYU is establishing in the Middle East.
He will be involved in visual arts programming for the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute and the campus, the development of arts curricula, and structuring museum placement opportunities for students and graduates. In 2009, Mr. de Montebello and Ms. Westermann will convene a major, international conference through the NYU Abu Dhabi Institute, expected to be titled Art Museums Here and Now. “International exchanges and understanding have been important goals throughout my career, and so I also look forward to the exciting prospect of advising in Abu Dhabi on issues dealing with the visual arts,” added Mr. de Montebello.

The Fiske Kimball Professorship is named for the young scholar-architect who came to NYU in 1922 and during his tenure built the foundation for what is the present- day IFA. Kimball went on to become the director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1925. The Institute counts many distinguished museum directors among its graduates, including James N. Wood, director of the Art Institute of Chicago for 25 years, and now president of the J. Paul Getty Trust; Timothy Rub, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art; Anne Litle Poulet, director of the Frick Collection; Emilie Gordenker, director, Mauritshuis, The Hague; Harry S. Parker, III, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco for many years; Martin Weyl, former director of the Israel Museum; Janne Gallen-Kallela-Sirén, director of the Helsinki City Art Museum; and Jill Medvedow, director of the Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston.

Philippe de Montebello has been director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art for 31 years; he first came to the Met in 1963 as a curator in the Department of European Paintings, and was named director in 1977. Under his leadership, the Metropolitan nearly doubled in size, vastly increasing its exhibition space, while acquiring significant collections and masterpieces, mounting acclaimed international loan exhibitions, developing wide-reaching educational programs, and reinstalling much of its encyclopedic permanent collections in new and refurbished galleries.

He received his BA in the history of art magna cum laude from Harvard College. He was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and earned his MA at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts.

Mr. de Montebello is the recipient of many honors and awards: a National Medal of the Arts; honorary doctorates from NYU, Harvard, Dartmouth, and Lafayette College, among others; the National Institute of Social Sciences Gold Medal; being named as a commendatore in the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy; being named an Officier dans l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur; the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, from the Government of Japan; and the Spanish Institute’s Gold Medal Award, among others.

The Institute of Fine Arts celebrates its 75th Anniversary in 2007-08 as one of the world’s leading graduate schools and research centers in art history, archaeology, and conservation. The Institute has a permanent faculty unrivalled in the breadth and depth of its expertise and unparalleled in the range of its adjunct lecturers from top museums, research institutes, and conservation studios. Since the Institute awarded its first PhD in 1933, more than 1600 degrees have been conferred. Its alumni hold leadership roles as professors, curators, museum directors, archaeologists, conservators, critics, and institutional administrators throughout the U.S. and internationally.

New York University, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, was established in 1831 and is one of America’s leading research universities and a member of the selective Association of American Universities. It is one of the largest private universities, and through its 14 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and performing arts, music, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

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