Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Campbell resigns

Plus: Catalan trio awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize | 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair announces new Marrakech edition | Ancient palace discovered under shrine demolished by IS in Mosul

1 March 2017

Our daily round-up of news from the art world

Metropolitan Museum director to step down in June | Thomas Campbell has resigned from his role as director and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Campbell, who took up the post at the start of 2009, will step down on 30 June this year.

The decision comes at a time when the museum has faced widely reported financial difficulties, with staff layoffs last year following the announcement of a $10 million deficit, and the postponement of plans to open a new wing for modern and contemporary art designed by David Chipperfield. While Campbell had been under pressure for some time, the timing of his resignation seems to come as a surprise: according to a report in the New York Times, the museum’s board was only convened by conference call an hour before he delivered his statement to them. Just a fortnight ago, Campbell wrote a forceful blog about the museum’s mandate and mission to provide ‘a historic and a contemporary perspective on mutual understanding’.

Campbell’s tenure has seen a large rise in visitor numbers to the museum, with attendance growing by 40 per cent to seven million visitors per year. That figure includes more than half a million visitors to the Met Breuer, the new site that opened in 2016 in the Breuer building on Madison Avenue, which the museum has taken on an eight-year lease from the Whitney. While the programme at the new venue has largely been considered a success, some commentators have questioned the financial wisdom and timing of the expansion.

The Met’s ambitious exhibition programme has seen many triumphs during the last eight years, including highly acclaimed exhibitions dedicated to the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, Pergamon, and Deccan India. Among many notable acquisitions has been the Leonard A. Lauder collection of Cubist paintings, drawings and sculptures, a gift that has transformed the museum’s holdings of modern art.

In a letter to staff and trustees, Campbell said that he had taken the decision ‘in order to pursue the next phase of my career.’ The Met has yet to make an announcement about the process for appointing his successor: the museum’s president, Daniel H. Weiss, will act as interim chief executive.

Catalan trio awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize | Raphael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta – the founders of RCR Arquitectes – have been named as the winners of this year’s Pritzker Prize. The trio, who are based in the Catalonian town of Olot, have been collaborating on architectural projects for three decades, and are known for their ability to integrate buildings with the surrounding landscape. They were praised by the jury for their restrained use of materials, which ‘lend…incredible strength and simplicity to a building.’

1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair announces new Marrakech edition | Morocco will host a new edition of the 1:54 art fair in February 2018. The fair, which promotes ‘contemporary art from a diverse set of African perspectives’, was established in London in 2013, and launched a second annual event in New York in 2015. Touria el Glaoui, the fair’s Moroccan-born founder, has envisaged an African edition of the event since its inception, reports The Art Newspaper. It will be hosted by the La Mamounia hotel in the country’s capital.

Ancient palace discovered under shrine demolished by IS in Mosul | Archaeologists inspecting the Nabi Yunus shrine in Mosul, which was destroyed by IS militants after they occupied the area in 2014, have discovered an ancient palace believed to date back to around 600BC beneath its ruins. Tunnels dug by IS revealed the archaeological site, suggesting that the militants have already removed many of its artefacts. Efforts are underway to secure the tunnels, which are poorly constructed and at risk of collapse.

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