Retiring Metropolitan Museum of Art Director to Speak at the Clark January 23

For Immediate Release

January 09, 2008

Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, today announced his plans to retire before the end of the year. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is fortunate to host de Montebello who will present the lecture “Museums, Why Should We Care?” on Wednesday, January 23, at 7 pm, as part of the Director’s Perspective series. Admission is free.

De Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1977, has been acknowledged throughout the museum world as one of the field's most influential and articulate champions of integrity, authority, education, and public access. During this lecture, he will discuss why in this age of virtual reality, museums still fulfill the Enlightenment promise of education and inspiration.

De Montebello is the eighth, and longest-serving, director in the Metropolitan's 135-year history. Under de Montebello's leadership, the museum has nearly doubled in size, vastly increasing its exhibition space. It has acquired significant collections and masterpieces, mounted acclaimed international loan exhibitions, developed wide-reaching educational programs, and reinstalled much of its permanent collections in new and refurbished galleries. 

Lecturing on museum issues throughout the world, de Montebello, the author of several influential op-ed pieces in the New York Times and other publications, is a ubiquitous commentator on art and museological matters in the broadcast media. In 2003 the President of the United States awarded him The National Medal of Arts.

Born in Paris, de Montebello became an American citizen in 1955 and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1958. After serving as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, he received an advanced degree from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. With the exception of four-and-a-half years (1969-1974) as director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas, de Montebello has spent his entire career at the Metropolitan Museum. He joined the Met as a curatorial assistant in 1963, rising to associate curator in the Department of European Paintings. In 1974, de Montebello was appointed vice director for Curatorial and Educational Affairs, a post he held until he became director in July 1977. He plans to retire before the end of 2008.

At the helm of the most successful museums are dynamic directors who embrace challenges and change. During lectures and conversations at the Clark, hear the perspective of directors of major museums in the United States whose work is expanding and transforming the museum field. This series continues on Thursday, April 17, at 7 pm, when Michael Govan, chief executive officer and Wallis Annenberg Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) will be joined by Michael Conforti, director of the Clark, for a discussion of timely issues in the museum world.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission is free November 1 through May 31. Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit


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