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Episode 79
Daniel H. Weiss, CEO and President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art "Why the Museum Matters"

  • 25 min read

Episode Description

A conversation with Daniel H. Weiss, CEO and President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, regarding his new book “Why the Museum Matters”. In the book, Weiss describes the origins of the modern day museum, the challenges museums face and what the future holds. The conversation includes insights on some of the thorniest issues facing museums today, including diversity, restitution, and deaccessioning.


Craig: [00:00:11] This is Art Sense, a podcast focused on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. On today's episode, I speak with Daniel H. Weiss, CEO and President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, regarding his new book "Why the Museum Matters". In the book, Weiss describes the origins of the modern day museum, the challenges museums face, and what the future holds. The conversation includes insights on some of the thorniest issues facing museums today, including diversity, restitution and deaccessioning. And now a conversation about why the museum matters with The Met's Daniel H. Weiss.

Craig: [00:01:07] Daniel H. Weiss, you're the CEO and President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the author of the new book "Why the Museum Matters". I guess maybe that's a great place to start. And that is why are museums an integral part of our society or any society?

Daniel: [00:01:24] Well, so first of all, thanks so much for having me on, Craig. I appreciate it. That was the main question I wanted to explore. On the one hand, we take museums for granted. They're rather ubiquitous parts of our lives in almost every town and city, all over the United States and indeed all over the world. We see museums, but I'm not sure we reflect so often on why they're there, where they come from, and what what's at stake as we think about our own changing society. So I wrote the book with that, those questions in mind, wanting to really dig into that. And I will say museums matter a great deal. There's no question they're really important parts of our society. But the question is why do they matter and do they matter in different ways to different people? And I think the answer to that is, yes, they do.

Craig: [00:02:12] You know, your book, it gives us a kind of an informative look back at the origin of museums as we see them today and then conversation about where museums are and then kind of challenges going forward. Right? I found that the look back was rather informative in that there were museums in the ancient world, but museums, as we think of them today, really kind of sprung up around the Enlightenment, correct?

Daniel: [00:02:44] Yes, that's right.

Craig: [00:02:46] And can you kind of speak to a term surrounding that, which is the public sphere? That was kind of a principle that I found sort of interesting and one that continues in perpetuity today, right?

Daniel: [00:03:01] Yeah. So I think museums do two things that are very meaningful in this discussion and in our society. One is they provide a public sphere. The other is that they allow us to engage with objects in ways that helps us to shape our own experience and our own sense of ourselves. And if we think about the historical arc of the museum idea, if the ancient world didn't have museums per say, it certainly had the ideas that were foundational to museums. It was in collecting objects and in a sense curating them in a way that allowed people to tell stories that shaped identity and to find narratives about experience that were meaningful to us. And that's exactly what we do when we go to museums today. The other issue as you raise is around the public sphere. Museums are one of the few kinds of places in our society today where everyone is welcome to come together to engage in thoughtful and spirited discussion around complex issues. They don't only have to be about the mission of the institution, they could be broader than that. But when you think about where do people come together to debate and deliberate, it was once coffeehouses in London in the 18th century. It's museums in New York today, in other places.

Craig: [00:04:16] The more I read your book, the more sympathy I would have for the role of a museum director, because it seems like there are so many tricky areas to balance and just trying to figure out who are your constituents and as a museum, are you really being asked to take a side on issues or is it to be a neutral place to encourage debate and dialog.

Daniel: [00:04:45] That is at the center of what the debate about museums is today. There are some who would argue museums are important places for society, so they should be the place where advocacy for important societal concerns is made. And there are others who say museums are there for everybody. So they should be apolitical. They should be places where you can go look at art and have a nice sandwich and spend time with your family and go home. And I think there's value in both sides, but I think both sides are wrong that museums are at the center of our society. They are held in the public trust. Almost all museums serve the public in some fashion. And therefore, we think of them as institutions held in the public trust, which means we serve everyone. And therefore we have a wide range of constituencies who have different kinds of interests and different kinds of needs from little children who want to have an opportunity to see something they've never seen before, to scholars who are coming to study some very complicated issue that they may have been devoting their careers to. And I think what's at stake in this discussion about museums as a public sphere is if on the one hand the museum becomes an agent for partisan points of view for activist ideas, should there be greater issues around social justice or global? Or climate?

Daniel: [00:06:08] Any kind of issue that might be timely in the world if the museum takes that on directly as a source of political advocacy. It runs the risk of losing its way as a long term institution held in the public trust for everyone. It, in a sense, becomes hijacked by one special interest or another. On the other hand, museums cannot be aloof. They cannot say, "We're not interested in any of the issues. We just have beautiful things because we all live in a world where that's those objects are in communication with the rest of what we believe in our society". So I think the challenge for leadership is to be respectful of all of that and recognize that we have to sustain our service to the public by engaging issues. But they need to be related to the mission of the institution. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has no business making cases or arguments for issues around which it has no competence or expertise just because we're a public institution. For example.

Craig: [00:07:05] There was an interesting line that I highlighted where you said, "The challenge in realizing such an objective is that we live in a world that does not value productive disagreement or strenuous debate". Is it reflective of our time that people aren't able to disagree? Because it does feel like we live in a very polarized society right now. That there is...I believe it comes up in the book, you know, one of the issues as a museum leader is dealing with a call for for canceling from both sides over different topics that come up and how do we have a debate and maintain dialog without there being a call for canceling and polarization of ideals?

Daniel: [00:07:53] Well, I think there's no question that our society has lost a great deal, that we have seen a degradation in our ability as a society to debate issues. The best example of that is the most obvious one, which is our own Congress is utterly incompetent and disgracefully so. There was a time not that long ago when Republicans and Democrats came together on all kinds of issues and they had relationships with each other and they voted with each other sometimes and against each other sometimes. The fact that almost every issue is voted along party lines is disgraceful. It means there is no thoughtful discourse. There's no learning from each other. There's no productive engagement in difficult issues, and the rest of our society has followed suit. Universities are a good example where that's also problematic. I don't know how you can learn from each other if you can't debate them over difficult issues. So as I was writing the book and I was thinking about this question, it occurred to me, and this may be an obvious point, but it wasn't so much to me that if we want to be good at something that's difficult, then we need to know how to do it. It isn't enough to just put two people with different ideas in a room and say, "Have at it". Before you know it, they'll either stop talking or they'll beat each other up. And if you go into a court of law where differences of opinion could be life consequential, there are rules about how do you present evidence? How does one engage in debate? What are the guidelines and rules that we follow in order for in a court of law...the goal is for the truth to come out.

Daniel: [00:09:22] So in debate, the rule should be also clear. So in the book, I talk about during the Enlightenment, there was a great deal of discussion around how do you have debate? What kind of issues are to be discussed? And how do you make sure that people can have good discussions? And I outlined what those ideas were that were outlined by John Stuart Mill and others from the Enlightenment. And then it occurred to me there were additional rules we should think about today, because the world we live in today is even more polarized than it ever has been before. As you raise the issue about cancel culture, if such a thing really exists, and I think it does, is the confusion that somebody's idea that you can disagree with also allows you to attack the person. But in fact, ideas and people are very separate things. Egregious, awful people can have good ideas and very good people can have very bad ideas. So if you learn to disentangle those things, then you critique the idea and leave the person alone. But to get somebody fired from their job and unemployable because they said something that is offensive is in my mind, very short sighted, because in the end what you're doing is you're eliminating the ability of that person to contribute to the public good. And that to me is a failure. So we need guidelines for how to have a debate so that we are better at it. It is a skill like anything else.

Craig: [00:10:44] It seems like these days a lot of museum directors feel compelled to program experiences, experiences that attract the most paying customers. But I know there's a real balancing act there because I believe there was another line I highlighted in your book which made reference to that "when you put the visitor at the center of programming, you lose the ability to broaden horizons".

Daniel: [00:11:10] Yeah. Yeah. I think the issue there is, is the difference between, say, a museum and purely entertainment is that museums are also educational institutions. They don't have to be boring and they certainly can be fun. But we are ideally...we're being confronted with ideas that are new to us. Not all of them will we agree with, and we have a chance to experience something that might be outside of what we're familiar with. Whereas entertainment is providing people with something that they know ahead of time is going to be enjoyable. It might not have an intellectual component at all. There's nothing wrong with that. I like entertainment just like the next person does. But if we think of ourselves as places for entertainment, then we're going to be increasingly pandering to whatever we think and our market research tells us is going to make people happy. And I think that undermines the mission of an educational institution that is intended to try to do something else.

Craig: [00:12:09] So an institution like The Met is referred to as an encyclopedic museum. But I think you're hoping that we can move towards the term universalist. Can you kind of define the distinction between encyclopedic versus universalist?

Daniel: [00:12:27] Sure. And some of these the language isn't entirely precise, but I'm going after something. The term encyclopedic presumes that we have it covered pretty well. When you have...when you look at an encyclopedia, the idea is it pretty much has all the information on everything you need to know. And an encyclopedic museum...The Met used to call itself, so many still call it an encyclopedic museum, but most of the cultures that have existed in our society, in the world, which The Met is supposed to be an encyclopedic institution and that it covers all of the art of all history across time and space. Most of the cultures that have existed are not in the museum, that we don't have every single the cultural examples of every single museum. So let's say you're from a community somewhere in South America and you're coming to the museum and it's an encyclopedic museum. So you want to see what your culture has, and we have nothing. That also sends the signal that in some ways we just your culture doesn't rise to the level of importance enough to be here. There's a presumption we have everything and we don't. So to use a different term, like universalist is really just to say our goal is to collect the cultural achievements of all of the world and also to show how connected they all are. That part of what one museum does that has all these different things is it shows the ways in which disparate cultures might actually have a lot in common. And there's a shared humanity behind almost every cultural object we look at, whether it was made in ancient Egypt or modern Manhattan. And so to move away from the encyclopedic term is to invite a certain humility about what it is the museum is really about, and to remind us that those connections are very important.

Craig: [00:14:13] Well, you know, I think one of the tricky things about that not only is it just trying to give every culture a voice, but for a museum like The Met, particularly a museum like the British Museum, there are a number of troubling questions about how were these artifacts acquired? And we're now in a time when people are raising a lot of questions about "are these the spoils of colonial expansion? Did those societies have a say in these artifacts being moved to a different part of the world for display?" But then, you know, I've had conversations with people in the museum world, and there is the case that when we start talking about restitution and returning Benin bronzes, if we return them all to Nigeria, far fewer people would learn about the works and see them than if they were in these urban environments.

Daniel: [00:15:10] Yes, absolutely. Part of the...I guess you could say the ugly underside of the modern museum movement is that many of these institutions have objects in them that they acquired in ways that are not today seen as as positive. And the whole history of art collecting, going back to the very beginning, includes human beings, taking a real interest in collecting the cultural objects of other human beings. And there's, for example, a great example in the Louvre, the Law Code of Hammurabi, the oldest law code in the history of civilization, was looted several times in the ancient world when the neo-Babylonians conquered whoever they conquered in the sixth century. That object was there in the palace, and they took it back with them. And so it found its way from one palace to another as an example of cultural appropriation in its own kind of early colonial. Evidence. So museums have this legacy. Maybe the most egregious example of all is the Louvre. That Napoleon, great enlightenment leader and general, he marched across Europe with armies of scholars and he would overrun a city, state or whoever, and he would enter into what's called a coercive treaty and say, "I'm going to kill all you people and take over your town unless you sign this agreement". And this agreement is "you're going to give me all your art". And then he would select the stuff he wanted and load it in carts and bring it to Paris and much of it still in the Louvre today. These are that's how it got. They got it because Napoleon stole it. And the more recent examples include the Benin bronzes, for example, which were all of those objects were removed in 1897 during what was called a punitive raid by the British government in Benin City, where they did a lot of killing and a lot of stealing.

Daniel: [00:16:58] And then that art was eventually sold. And it's now in 150 museums around the world. So it's hard to unwind that. So the question is, where do we go from here and who owns these things? And I think the universalist idea can help us. It is not obvious that who holds title to an object is the same thing as to where that object needs to be displayed. To your point, if every work of Benin art that came out of Benin City in 1897 were given back to the Nigerian government right now. And a lot of it is, but all of it went back to Benin City. It wouldn't necessarily be in the Nigerian people's best interest that nobody would know anything about their great cultural achievement unless they went to Nigeria and they have enough art that they could it could be around the world and in Benin City and in Nigeria. So new agreements are being struck, including by the metropolitan, with these these communities, including in Nigeria, where there are ways of sharing art, where the objects may be returned by title to the Nigerian government, but they're on long term loan in one city or another. That's happening in Germany and England and the US, and we worry less about who holds title to them. But we work together and I think there's examples of that occurring rising here and there. And 25 years from now you'll see much more of that. There's no reason why the British Museum can have things it doesn't own on its walls, same as The Met.

Craig: [00:18:25] You know, another complication that you discuss in the book, which has come up in the news cycle over the last couple of years, especially with COVID, is deaccessioning. And, you know, I guess it's more emblematic of the financial stresses that museums are under and how do museums go about paying for the operational costs of what they do? And and, you know, I know you have a background in higher education, and it seems in many ways to kind of mirror the conversation about, "well, why is it that this university has a $2 billion endowment, but they're still having to charge students 80,000 a year for tuition". And it seems like endowments are earmarked for specific things. And you know, how... it's such a big and complicated issue in terms of because you're in the public trust, all of these things that are in your collection, it's like your your library, Right? Whether or not they ever get on display, you're in charge of their safekeeping and availability for knowledge and learning. Right? It's a very hairy issue, isn't it?

Daniel: [00:19:41] It is. I think there's actually three parts to this issue that are worth touching on very briefly. One issue is if you're saying art museum, what should you keep in your collection and should you keep stuff in there forever? What does it mean to be in a collection and is the right answer that once it's in, it never leaves. That's one question. What are collections for? The second question is who decides who gets to decide if collections should change? Who should have the right to make that decision? And the third issue is why do these institutions cost as much as they do? As you touched on that say about universities. And do you need to sell collections in order to help fund the museum? Why is that the case? So I can touch on each of those very briefly, if that would be helpful.

Craig: [00:20:25] Sure.

Daniel: [00:20:26] So the first is that all museums collect objects in order to preserve the cultural heritage of whatever their mission is. It could be the entire world, like The Metropolitan, or it could be more narrow if a museum only collects a certain segment of of history, and that collection should be dynamic in almost all cases that collections evolve, that judgments about what constitutes quality change and so forth. So I think you need a dynamic policy around deaccessioning, and that's a that's not a bad thing, but it should be regulated in a thoughtful way so that it can be done responsibly and not just to meet the needs of a particular moment.

Daniel: [00:21:05] We're having a really bad day at the Met. We should sell a Rembrandt, and that solves our problem. That's a path to to the dissolution of the museum, and nobody thinks that's a good idea. So deaccessioning thoughtfully when necessary. That's one. Two, who gets to decide? The debate that I talk about in the book is that there were policies set out by the oversight organization of museums that said you should never be able to deaccession objects for any reason other than to buy other objects. You can never use the proceeds of deaccessioning to solve an operational problem. And then COVID came along and half the museums in the United States were legitimately facing their extinction because they didn't have the resources to be closed for six months. And the question is, under those circumstances, is it okay to sell a work of art to stay alive? And that created this very big debate as to whether that was reasonable. The argument that I make in the book is that there might be circumstances when that's necessary, but it shouldn't be regulated by a third party. That's why you have boards and that's what shared governance is supposed to do. If you have good policies around deaccessioning that are that are transparent to the public, then the board and the senior leadership should make judgments in real time based on the circumstances they are facing.

Daniel: [00:22:26] And under only the most limited circumstances, might you deaccession a work of art in order to pay a bill rather than buy another work of art. But I don't think it makes sense to regulate that until the end of time. That's not a good idea. If you're an institution that's closed for six months and you can't pay people and you have to lay off your staff and the museum is going to close. Is the public interest served by selling two works of art out of 9000 that will allow you to stay alive until COVID passes and you can reopen? The board might decide, "yes, it's worth doing that". That should be their judgment, not a third parties. That's the argument I make in the book. And then the third topic is just museums are expensive, just like universities are. I won't get into a discussion about why that is the case, but I think we have the obligation as a institutions held in the public trust, to be transparent about that. Our budget should be susceptible to scrutiny and review. We should be able to explain what we're doing so that people are satisfied that their questions are being answered and that fiscal responsibility is one of the core obligations of any leaders to make sure that the money is being spent wisely. And if it isn't, then you should replace the people.

Daniel: [00:23:37] You know, one of the points you spoke on there is kind of the the broad external thesis that deaccessioning is is always bad and that comes from guidelines of the AAMD. You know, it's my understanding that it's really important for a museum to stay in good standing there, because if you're not in good standing, then you wind up being censured in a way that you aren't able to borrow or lend with other institutions, which is...those borrowed works for exhibits are kind of key to, you know, programing, staying kind of alive and vibrant and keeping people coming in the doors, correct?

Daniel: [00:24:20] Yes. Well, the AAMD is is a membership organization. So when we talk about what the AAMD mandates or regulates, it's really how we're regulating ourselves, because that's who who's running it. It's just members of the museum community. So I think this is a good example where we should have free and open debate about an issue that is controversial. And I take it up in the book, my friend Tom Campbell, who is the director of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and with whom I worked very closely at The Met. He's a really smart guy. He has a very different view. He thinks that we should not allow for deaccessioning under any circumstances that other than what the AAMD regulates. And I argue, I think the board should have more flexibility there. So reasonable people can disagree about those issues and debate them but in the end, one doesn't want to run afoul of our peers. And if you were an institution that ignored the AAMD and nobody would lend to you, then you have an existential problem. So I'm not advocating that. I'm just advocating let's talk about it and try to come up with the best approach that is in the the greater the interest in the greatest good of the profession.

Craig: [00:25:29] You know, you touched on the board of directors. Can you kind of talk more about the importance of having a good board in and in your mind, what makes a good board? Because, you know, I believe you touched in the book about how sometimes a board member may think that the role is free of responsibilities, but the best board members actually add a lot of insight and consultation and oversight, correct?

Daniel: [00:25:57] Yes, they do. Boards are really important and maybe more important than sometimes people realize. Their job is not just to fund the institution. And indeed in many cases it's not the funding institution at all. It's the board has three fundamental roles of most nonprofit organizations, art museums and otherwise. One is to hire and oversee the senior leadership, the CEO, and to replace the CEO when the time is right. So that's one. The second is to make sure that the institution's resources are being stewarded responsibly. That's called the fiduciary responsibility. That if the museum is squandering its resources or spending money unwisely, the board needs to know about it and stop it. And the third is to make sure that the museum is maintaining fidelity to its mission, that it's doing what it's supposed to do overall. That's it. Now, within that context, there's a great deal of latitude as to how a board does that. But if a board of any institution that is again held in the public trust, the board has to be at some level reflective of that public. So the board should be diverse in the sense that they should bring expertise that is helpful to the institution.

Daniel: [00:27:10] I don't need people on the board to tell me exactly how to do my job as CEO. But it's helpful to have people who know about various things that I deal with, and I can ask them for advice and guidance, whether it's a financial matter or an organizational matter or maybe a legal matter. They bring supplemental knowledge to their oversight role, which is different from managing the institution. And along the way, because of the way museums in the United States are funded, which is through a diversity of resources, most American museums are not funded by the government. The Met is only funded about 9% by the government. Even the National Gallery in Washington is funded like, I don't know, 60% or something like that. So board members can also contribute resources and some can contribute vast resources and some less. Everyone should give something. So I think boards should be reflective of the society they serve, the institutions needs. And you put that all together and you have a board that's that's full of different kinds of people.

Craig: [00:28:11] Reflecting the people it serves. Brings up one more topic that I'm sure you've been wrestling with from a number of years, which is diversity. How does the board reflect the diverse people groups that reflect the community you serve? The other topic related to diversity is the representation of all people types in the collection, right? There's plenty of data out there right now about the underrepresentation of certain people groups or certain genders. How do we correct course there in a thoughtful way?

Daniel: [00:28:51] Well, it's a challenge, but it also is an exciting opportunity. Not every museum has the ambition to collect all of the art of all people of all time, as the Met does, or the Boston Museum of Fine Arts does, or the Art Institute of Chicago. There are some, but given the mission of the institution, we should do the very best we can to be as universalist as we can. And as I was saying earlier, that if people are looking for examples of their own history or their own culture in a museum that is ostensibly about the arts of all the world and they don't find their own culture there, then there is the presumption that they're not important. When these great American museums were founded in the 19th century, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The Met and others, there was almost a self-satisfied idea that "we're going to be an encyclopedic museum because we're going to have the art of Western Europe. We'll have the art of Egypt. Maybe that's about it. And we will have covered it". When in fact the rest of the world was not represented in those collections. And it wasn't obvious to people at the time that that was an oversight. So the more we know now, we recognize that cultural achievement is manifest throughout the world at great, great levels of achievement. We want to have these things in the collection. We're growing our collections. That means we have to expand our collections. We have to expand the curatorial expertise that oversees them. We have to expand the programing that we have in order to bring people in to show the great achievements of of the entire world. And I think that's a really exciting process that we are embarked on. And the events of the last few years helped to jumpstart that in ways that's been very productive. But we want to be able to expand the mission in all those ways. It's just complicated to do so, but I think it's a great opportunity for us.

Craig: [00:30:42] Well, I remember a few years ago I watched a documentary on how the Rijksmuseum had shut down and took an extended period of time to rehang their entire collection and rehang it in a way that it was no longer by chronological silos, but by dialogs across time, across topics. How works were interrelated. And the last time I went to The Met, I came across, you know, a similar sort of experience in one room, which was the "Washington Crossing the Delaware: Then and Now", where when I had entered that space in the past, it had always been that painting along with paintings that were contemporaries of its time. But now it was, you know, there were other works hanging alongside by Robert Colescott and Kara Walker. Can you talk a little bit about maybe how you're able to create spaces that foster those dialogs?

Daniel: [00:31:47] Historically, our collections would be built around the curatorial premise that we're going to show you works of art and context. So if you want to look at it Hudson River paintings of the 19th century, then we're going to show you lots of Hudson River paintings and we're going to show you the art that was produced around that time in the United States. And there is certainly value in understanding where individual, creative genius come from in that context. But the point of being in one building all these different forms of art is also to invite comparisons across cultures. So in recent years, we have done more of that, where we we would juxtapose works of art around a theme like you are pointing out the idea of this great mythical narrative about George Washington crossing the Delaware on Christmas Eve and it really happened but the way it's represented in art is sometimes a little bit exaggerated or distorted one way or the other. So to put all these different images of that subject up across time gives you a sense of how artists think in the 20th century versus 21st century about that subject. Other ways of bringing things together are thematically across cultures even more significantly, where we might we have an exhibition now underway that shows the arts of ancient Egypt in comparison to works of art that were produced in sub-Saharan Africa millennia later. But many of them deal with the same subjects - representations of power or feminine beauty, or one subject or another. And these juxtapositions show that many of the same human impulses that give rise to these creative objects can be compared even though they're separated geographically and chronologically. It helps us to again remember that human beings across all of these cultures have more in common than we think. So we've been doing that quite a lot. We didn't close the museum, as the Rijksmuseum did for many years to figure it out, but we're doing it every day.

Craig: [00:33:45] So what is on the horizon? I think we've talked about solving problems that we're facing now, but how do we keep museums relevant and alive and changing to meet the needs of how our society changes?

Daniel: [00:34:03] Well, one of the things I don't worry about is even though we live in a world where we're completely overwhelmed with digital platforms and the opportunities to do things virtually, I don't worry about the demise of the museum. People love museums. They love going to them. They love having the opportunity to connect directly to objects and not just virtually. So I think the vitality and the attractiveness of the museum concept throughout the world is going to continue in very strong ways. I have no concern about that. I think what's exciting is that people so love these museums, they're fighting over them. If they didn't care would be one thing. But the Met and most major urban museums are pretty crowded. Most of the time. People come from all over the world to see them. And there's a great interest in them. So I think the exciting challenge ahead is how do we keep an eye on the way the world is changing around us so that our museums are relevant to the concerns of the day? But without losing sight of why we're here and what it is that we are intended to do in art museums in our society. All museums in our society are intended to be here for a long time. We are perpetual institutions. Our job is to be here from one generation to the next, across the centuries. So we have to make decisions that allow us to survive in a thoughtful way, even though the world is changing very quickly. And that tension is really exciting. Lots of people are unhappy because we're not doing enough right in the moment and other people think we're doing too much in the moment. But that's what makes the work interesting for me.

Craig: [00:35:41] Well, I guess one last question for you, Daniel, is what's on the horizon for you? Because I understand 2023 is going to be a year of change for you personally. Do you have any ideas about where you're headed?

Daniel: [00:35:56] Yes. So I've been at the Met for eight years. It's been one of the great experiences of my life to be part of that community. And I'll miss that. But I'm ready for the next adventure and I'm looking forward. Mostly I'm a writer as well as that's why we're here today talking about a book that I've written. So I have other books to write. I'll do some teaching and I look forward to supporting The Met as a visitor, but not as a staff member. So I'm looking forward to coming back onto your podcast in a couple of years to talk about my next book.

Craig: [00:36:25] Absolutely. Daniel, I appreciate so much your time and I appreciate you writing a book that really kind of pulls back the curtain a little bit at The Met and the museum world in general, and hopefully it opens an active dialog. And again, can't wait to talk to you again about your next book.

Daniel: [00:36:44] Thank you so much and thanks for the invitation to be with you today. I really enjoyed it.

Craig: [00:36:48] Awesome.

Craig: [00:36:54] That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to Art Sense. You can find the show on Apple podcast, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rate the show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. And if you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read the transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to and click on the podcast tab. If you'd like to reach out to me, you can email me at Thanks for listening.

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