Suzanne Lovell Inc

Culture

$65 million facelift is just one exciting change at the MET

February 01, 2015

Many changes have occured at the Met in the past couple of years.  Probably the most visual one is the complete overhaul of the Met’s front steps and fountains.  With a donation from David Koch of $65 million, the Fifth Avenue landmark is looking more current than it’s looked in years.  

With Thomas Campbell at the helm, changes are happening quickly, which is quite unusual for such a major cultural institution.  As he promised when taking over from the long-serving director, Philippe de Montebello 6 years ago, Campbell is striving to change the perception of the Met as an “older and elitist generation” museum and appeal to a younger and more hip demographic.  Of course, the easiest way to do that is by bringing people to the website.  A substantial investment has been made into updating the Met’s digital persona.

Along with that comes task of improving the signage within the museum’s walls. The Met also signed a least to take over the Whitney’s Madison Avenue space when it’s vacated later this year.  This will provide space for more exhibitions within a space of their own.

Boosting attendance, obviously, is the the key to a successful museum.  With 6.2 million visitors walking through the front gate last year, this shows a big boost from previous years when, during the recession, attendance dipped to 4.7 million.  Helping this cause was last autumn’s opening of Leonard A. Lauder’s Cubist collection.  Valued at $1 billion, Cubist works from Picasso, Gris and Leger (among others) are on display through Feburary 16th.  After that, the collection will return to its owner – who has yet to announce when they will become part of the museum’s permanent collection.  This amazing gift fills holes in the Met’s modern and contemporary collections, allowing it to become a player in that market both for audiences and potential donors.

With the new plaza, the vital updating of some interior spaces became more visual.  Renovating the Modern Wing is something that’s high on Campbell’s list.  This will entail eliminating an underground parking garage as outward expansion isn’t possible.  Of course, this will entail millions of dollars as well as a substantial amount of bureaucratic red-tape.

Finally, the exhibits at the Met’s Anna Wintour Costume Center (formerly called the Met’s Costume Institute) have been sure crowd-pleasers.  The successful Alexander McQueen show in 2011 brought through over 660,000 people.  This audience might not have frequented the Met in the past, but the new revolutionary exhibits certainly portray the Met in a different, more fun and adaptive light!

 For additional information, please refer to the “Departures” November 2014 issue.

Updated front steps and fountains made possible by Philanthropist and Museum Trustee David Koch, September, 2014.

Image courtesy of: The Met Museum

Juan GrisPears and Grapes on a Table, 1913.  From Leonard A. Lauder’s Cubist Collection.

Image courtesy of: The Met Museum

Thomas Campbell (Met CEO and Director) with Anna Wintour, Emily Rafferty (Met President) and Michelle Obama at the Met’s opening of the Anna Wintour Costume Center, May 5, 2014.

Image courtesy of: Getty Images

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