From The Met to Waddesdon
Thomas P Campbell is announced as the second Getty/Rothschild Fellow. Art Historian and former Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will divide his time between the Getty Research Institute in LA (November 2017-February 2018) and Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire (March-June 2018)
Having recently ended his tenure as Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Campbell is taking a sabbatical between leadership roles to study the challenges and opportunities facing the cultural sector and the ways we can use art and cultural heritage to promote understanding in an ever-more connected but ever-more divided world.
As the ninth director of The Met between 2009 and 2017, Campbell pursued a groundbreaking agenda that combined scholarship with accessibility. He reinforced the Museum’s excellence in its collections, galleries, exhibitions, publications and international engagement while reimagining the visitor experience both in the galleries and via an industry-leading digital presence. As a result the museum increased (and diversified) its attendance from 4.5 million to 7 million annually —making it the second most highly attended art museum in the world, after the Louvre. Online, the website has audience of over 30 million visitors with tens of millions more engaging through social media.
During Campbell’s tenure the main building was transformed by new galleries for Islamic and American art, The Costume Institute and European Paintings. The renovation of the Fifth Avenue plaza reinvigorated the Met’s exterior. Areas of traditional curatorial focus were enhanced while new attention was paid to areas of weakness, such as Latin American and Native American art. In particular, Campbell brought renewed vitality to the Museum’s engagement with Modern and Contemporary art, with an eye to completing the encyclopedic continuum from pre-history to the current day. This included securing the 2013 landmark gift of Leonard Lauder’s collection of Cubist art and the opening of The Met Breuer in March 2016.
Online, substantial progress was made in digitizing the collections. Innovative, award-wining web features engage and inform viewers around the world and a bold, strategic approach to social media is creating a new interface between the public, staff, and the collections. Internationally, Campbell encouraged collaborations with institutions and scholars around the world. This included conservation exchanges, major loan exhibitions and the launching of a biannual global museum director’s colloquium that brought together leaders from nations as diverse as Peru, Afghanistan and New Zealand.
Campbell also initiated an extensive analysis of infrastructure needs. Based on this, the museum undertook a major bond issue to cover deferred maintenance such as the replacement of the roofs over the European Paintings galleries. It also identified future elective projects, including an ambitious project to rebuild the south-west wing of the museum, designed by David Chipperfield; components that will inform a future masterplan. In 2015 Campbell teamed with the board to appoint a new president, Dan Weiss, and subsequently worked closely with him to develop a financial restructuring that ensures ongoing strength and sustainability of the Museum’s finances.
Before becoming Director, Campbell worked in the Met’s Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts for thirteen years, rising steadily through the curatorial ranks as Assistant Curator (1995-97), Associate Curator (1997-2003), and Curator (2003 to December 2008). During this time, he conceived and organized the major exhibitions Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence (2002) and Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor (New York, 2007; Palacio Real, Madrid, spring 2008), both of which received widespread acclaim. The 2002 exhibition was named “Exhibition of the Year” by Apollo Magazine and its catalogue won the Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Award (College Art Association) for distinguished exhibition catalogue in the history of art (2003). His book, Henry VIII and the Art of Majesty: Tapestries at the Tudor Court, a thorough reappraisal of the art and patronage of the era, was published in 2007. Since shortly after his arrival at the Museum, he also served as Supervising Curator of The Antonio Ratti Textile Center, which houses the Museum’s encyclopedic collection of 36,000 textiles and is one of the preeminent centers of textile studies in the world.