To Get Back on Track, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Sharply Scales Back Its Ambitions

Metropolitan Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Arts

Amid a spate of negative press about numerous budget and management challenges facing the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Daniel Weiss, the interim director who will succeed Thomas Campbell when he officially resigns at the end of June, is acting fast. The latest is a sweeping plan to get the institution’s unwieldy budget under control and move forward with some renovation projects—though notably not the most high-profile one.

News of the plan was broken by Wall Street Journal reporter Kelly Crow, who writes that the move could “amount to an audition by Mr. Weiss for the top job at the nation’s premier encyclopedic museum.” Since Campbell’s abrupt resignation announcement on February 28, art world observers have been buzzing about who could possibly take the helm next.

Speaking to Crow, Weiss said the jist of his plan is to cut costs while still growing the museum at a reasonable pace. According to the WSJ report, he intends to tell the board he can close the current $15 million hole in the Met’s $398 million budget over the next two to three years by taking measures that include postponing exhibits and cutting back-office expenses while simultaneously pushing for higher revenue at the museum’s gift shops and restaurants.

He is reportedly not planning any more layoffs.

There’s more. Weiss also plans to propose that the Met address renovation projects one at a time as opposed to tackling overlapping ones. First up: He will target a project he deems “decidedly unsexy,” a plan to replace 60,000 square feet of decades-old skylights above the European art galleries that are at risk of leaking, at a whopping cost of $140 million.

He also plans to push for a $20 million renovation of the British galleries, a $5 million “facelift” for the musical instrument galleries, and solicit bids for renovation of the African wing, which he estimates could run to about $60 million.




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