Metropolitan Museum of Art chief resigns after eight years

The director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art said Tuesday that he will be stepping down. Thomas Campbell, who joined the Met two decades ago as a curator and tapestries expert, has been at the helm of the Upper East Side institution since 2009. His resignation is effective June 30. “I couldn’t be more proud of the Met’s accomplishments during my tenure as director and CEO,” Campbell said in a statement the museum released. During the 54-year-old’s tenure as director, overall museum attendance has grown to a record 7 million across the Met’s three sites. But a combination of financial woes and internal conflicts regarding Campbell’s efforts to modernize operations led to his departure, according to The New York Times. “It was not an easy choice to step away, especially at such a vital and exciting moment. That said, its current vitality is what makes this the right moment to do so,” Campbell said. “I have worked hard, and I believe my efforts have paid off.” While a successor has not been named, the Met’s president, Daniel Weiss, will serve as interim chief executive officer, according to the museum. Continue Reading

Metropolitan Museum of Art opens Met Breuer, a new outpost featuring modern and contemporary pieces

The Met now has a Mini-Met. The world-famous museum opened a new outpost Friday featuring modern and contemporary art, just a few blocks from its flagship location on Fifth Ave. The Met Breuer — named for building designer Marcel Breuer — is on 75th and Madison Ave., the same spot as the old Whitney Museum, which moved to the Meatpacking District last May. TAKE SOME TIME TO ENJOY THESE DAY TRIPS FROM NEW YORK CITY It’s a nine-minute walk from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the city’s most-visited museum. Mayor de Blasio, who attended the grand opening, said the new Met will help inspire kids to become involved in the arts. “There will be a young person who maybe hadn't been turned on to art, hadn't seen the creativity inside themselves and these halls will find it,” said de Blasio. Other pols at the artsy-ribbon cutting — which featured a performance by David Dorfman Dance — included Rep. Carolyn Maloney, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, and State Sen. Liz Krueger. Sixth- and seventh-graders from P.S./I.S. 78 in Long Island City, Queens, helped cut the ribbon. The museum is kicking off its inaugural weekend with a host of events, including a family day on Sunday with programs for kids and adults. It also has an ongoing retrospective of artist Nasreen Mohamedi. The Met Breuer is the Met’s third location. The Met Cloisters is in Inwood. Continue Reading

New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art drops admission button, starts 7-day week

New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is doing away with the tiny metal buttons long used as its admission ticket. Starting Monday, the button will be replaced with a paper ticket with detachable sticker. Museum officials say it has become too expensive to produce the buttons, which were introduced in 1971. The buttons came in 16 different colors and featured the letter “M.” The color was changed daily. The change comes on the day the Met is switching to a seven-day week. It has been closed Mondays. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Mayor Bloomberg grants Metropolitan Museum of Art right to charge mandatory entrance fee

The Met has acquired a new masterpiece — a lease that allows it to charge museumgoers whatever it wants. And the museum has a well-known and wealthy arts patron to thank: Mayor Bloomberg. Hizzoner waded into the legal dispute over the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s admissions practices by granting it the right to impose a mandatory entrance fee of $25 or more. The museum had come under fire for posting signs that critics say are designed to confuse people into thinking the fee is mandatory. Bloomberg’s decision was disclosed Thursday when the museum notified a Manhattan judge it has signed a new lease “at the city’s request.” Leases for the American Museum of Natural History and the Museum of the City of New York were similarly amended, officials said. Lawyer Michael Hiller, who has filed one of two lawsuits against the Met claiming it duped museumgoers, blasted the new lease. “The museum‘s effort to arrange a lease amendment, in the dead of night, without notice to the public and without regard to the democratic process, is nothing but a desperate stunt by the museum to defeat claims its lawyers must know are valid,” Hiller said. “It won’t sell politically. It won’t pass muster legally, and if anything, merely reinforces the fact the museum has been violating the lease for the last 43 years and that it must stop.” The mayor’s office declined comment. The amended lease — signed by Parks Commissioner Veronica White — says the museum can “set the terms of admission to its permanent galleries to the general public” with the consent of the commissioner of the City of New Department of Cultural Affairs. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Makeup mogul Leonard Lauder to donate $1 billion in Cubist works to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cosmetics mogul Leonard Lauder pledged Tuesday to give $1 billion in Cubist works, including 33 by Pablo Picasso, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “This is a gift to the people who live and work in New York and those from around the world who come to visit our great arts institutions,” said the 80-year-old chairman emeritus of the Estée Lauder Companies Inc. Met director and CEO Thomas Campbell said the 78 pieces Lauder is donating will be “transformational” for the Fifth Ave. museum, predicting it will become the global go-to place for Cubism. The museum is building the Leonard A. Lauder Research Center for Modern Art. Lauder’s gift also includes 17 works by Georges Braque and 14 each by Juan Gris and Fernand Léger. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Charles Lloyd brings his mystical sax sound from California to the Temple of Dendur at Metropolitan Museum of Art

When Charles Lloyd plays, a lot of people listen. It’s been that way since he moved to New York in the early 1960s. That’s the decade when Lloyd’s mystical sax vibe attached to ensembles led by Chico Hamilton, Cannonball Adderley and then to his own cutting-edge groups. He has lived in California since the early 1970s and rarely performs here. So this Friday’s sold-out show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Temple of Dendur is special. It’s also his birthday. “The kid is turning 75 that day, and we’ll have not just my quartet, but Maria Farantouri is coming to join us in the Temple,” Lloyd says. Farantouri is perhaps the most iconic singer from Greece since the 1960s, when she gave voice to the protest movement against the military junta. “She’s a mother of the universe, very revered in Greece and around the world, a dear friend,” Lloyd says. Along with originals and tunes from the jazz canon, Lloyd will share selections from his 2011 ECM collaboration with Farantouri, “Athens Concert.” Lloyd’s biggest hit, “Forest Flower,” was recorded at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966 with Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee and Jack DeJohnette. The album of the same title seemed to capture the spirit of the times and catapulted Lloyd into recognition beyond jazz. His ensemble played Bill Graham’s Fillmore East with the top rock bands of the day. Song-like tones emanate from the bell of Lloyd’s tenor saxophone. In a documentary on Lloyd’s life and career, “Arrows Into Infinity,” soon to make the film festival rounds, Herbie Hancock says Lloyd evokes a “flowing river, cascades of sound, with a kind of environmental aspect to it.” Growing up in Memphis, Lloyd saw Duke Ellington with Johnny Hodges, Count Basie with Lester Young, and Lionel Hampton with Quincy Jones and Clifford Brown on trumpet. “I heard Continue Reading

Metropolitan Museum of Art rooftop sculpture exhibit ‘Cloud City’ lets visitors see New York City through unique prism

Go ahead. Poke your head in the clouds. On the rooftop of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Cloud City" welcomes visitors. Argentinian artist Tomas Saraceno created the 16 stainless steel-framed bubbles, accessible via transparent staircases that take visitors on a journey up, with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and Central Park. Saraceno's first major U.S. commission "blends and reflects the environment," says the 38-year-old artist. "It's multi-reality, it's like a walk in the sky." Seth Wenig/AP So when the sky is blue, "it will get really blue," he says. And "when it's cloudy, you are walking in a kind of cloud scape; somehow you lose your sense of orientation." The installation — 54 feet long and 29 feet high — is part of the Met's rooftop sculpture program, now in its 15th year. "What inspired me was the geometry of the soap bubbles or the foam, of how they connect one sphere to the other," says Saraceno. Or, he adds with a smile, they could be the bubbles that form "when you drink chocolate milk from a bottle." Sara Theeboom of Sydney, Australia, says she had to get used to walking on cloud nine. Seth Wenig/AP "It's pretty disconcerting. I keep losing my center of gravity and feeling like I am going to fall," she says. "It's very cool, but I wouldn't recommend having a drink before you get in here." Anne Strauss, the Met's Modern and Contemporary Art curator, says the rooftop program offers visitors the widest variety of artistic styles. "Our sculpture program up on the roof has increasingly been one to work with living artists who come here and they respond to this remarkable setting," says Strauss. Saraceno says his work acts as a prism through which to see New York City. His first impression of the Met roof was of "this wonderful landscape." "I thought the way to operate was to reflect it," he says. "When you see the piece, actually what you are seeing is what is around you." Continue Reading

Metropolitan Museum of Art avoids brush with mogul Larry Gagosian

Is the Metropolitan Museum of Art engaging in the age-old sport of blaming the victim? In March, British collector Robert Wylde made headlines when he sued the Gagosian Gallery for selling him a $2.5 million Mark Tansey painting, "The Innocent Eye Test," which, it turned out, had been promised to the Met. Wylde had purchased the painting through the gallery in 2009 from former art dealer and Artforum magazine publisher Charles Cowles — only to be informed in spring 2010 that the Met owned 31% of the painting. Cowles' mother, Jan Cowles, owned the remaining 69%, and the museum had been promised it would eventually own the work in full. According to Wylde's complaint, had the Gagosian gallery properly done its "due diligence," it never would have given Wylde "clear and unencumbered title" to the artwork. Wylde, who still has the painting, is seeking $6 million in compensatory damages, but now he has to battle the Met and Mama Cowles in a related suit filed Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The complaint, not surprisingly, seeks the return of the Tansey painting. But what's interesting about the suit is the kid-gloves approach it takes regarding the Gagosian Gallery, which is owned by silver-haired billionaire Larry Gagosian — one of the most powerful art dealers in the world. The gallery is not named as a defendant in the suit. The complaint notes that "simple searches of publicly available information" — including the Met's website — would have revealed that the Cowleses had promised the painting to the museum. The complaint also points out that neither Gagosian nor Wylde "ever contacted" the Met or Jan Cowles "prior to the sale of the painting." That last allegation is also curious, given that Charles Cowles told The New York Times that "he considered the whole dispute his mistake." He said he sold the Tansey because he "could use the money" and "didn't even think about whether the Met owned part of it or not." Continue Reading

Parks Department evicts hot dog vendor from pricey spot near Metropolitan Museum of Art over rent

Hot dog heartache has come to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the Parks Department on Friday evicted a weiner vendor who couldn't pay his $53,558 monthly rent. The frankfurter failure is Pasang Sherpa, 51, of Long Island City, who agreed late last year to pay almost $643,000 annually for the right to sell food and drinks from carts on either side of the iconic steps. "I'm going crazy," said Sherpa, who had fallen $310,000 behind on rent. "I don't know what to do now." "The vendor outside the Met Museum was not paying the rent, so he was evicted from the spot," said Parks spokesman Phil Abramson. "The termination notice was sent today." A worker at one of the carts who was hanging up his tongs Friday night said it brought in just $1,000 to $1,500 a day - not enough to cover the sky-high rent. "We depend on this space. We have to pay our rent and everything. We don't know what's going to happen in our future," the 25-year-old immigrant said. "I just don't know where to go or what to do." Sherpa was the highest bidder last year when the Parks Department auctioned the right to sell hot dogs there. It is the most lucrative spot in the city, in front of one of New York's top tourist attractions with no nearby stores or restaurants. "We don't know the area or where else to eat but here," said Rhode Island tourist Joe Hyland, 32, after scarfing down a beef patty. "I don't know what it was or what's on it, but it's good," he said. "There's no other place to eat around here." Sherpa said his business suffered during a long construction project near the steps, as well as a weiner war with disabled veterans who used city vending law to sell hot dogs rent-free, often undercutting his price. Abramson said the city has seized $170,000 worth of performance bonds from Sherpa's company, Himalaya Inc., and will pursue another $140,000 to settle their beef. "As they are in arrears for the bulk of their contract, we are seizing their bonds and will seek the rest of Continue Reading

Oprah Winfrey to host annual gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in May 2010

NEW YORK -- Oprah Winfrey is on board to host the annual gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute next spring, supporting an exhibit that focuses on the style of American women. "American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity" will trace the archetypes of dress and femininity from 1890 to 1940, and then examine how they affect how women are perceived today. "The ideal of the American woman evolved from a dependence on European, Old World ideas of elegance into an independent New World sensibility that reflected freedoms still associated with American women today," said curator Andrew Bolton in a statement. "The show will look at fashion's role in defining how American women have been represented historically, and how fashion costumes women into archetypes that still persist in varying degrees of relevance." Display items will come from the new Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at the Met, and there will be several multimedia elements in the exhibit. Featured designers include Charles Frederick Worth, Charles James, Valentina and Madeleine Vionnet. The May 3 gala is the Costume Institute's main fundraising event, and it will be co-chaired by Patrick Robinson, creative director at Gap, and, as has become tradition, Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour. Kate Moss and Justin Timberlake hosted the event last year when the exhibit was about supermodels. The exhibit is slated to run May 5-Aug. 15. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading