• 17 Apr 2018

After 31 years as the head of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, Philippe de Montebello steps aside for a surprising personality. Max Hollein, 48 year-old and current Director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, is known for both his artistic expertise and his interest in new technologies.

Max Hollein photographed by Gaby Gerster from the Städel Museum

Max Hollein © Gaby Gerster from the Städel Museum

An unprecedented decision

According to the New York Times it is the first time in sixty years that the Museum chose a Director who is not already part of the Institution’s staff. Even though President and CEO of the Museum Daniel H. Weiss is still in charge of the business and operations, Max Hollein is supposed to embody the Museum’s new dynamism. Indeed, he steps in at a time when the MET is facing important financial difficulties. In that context, Art-Trope wrote an article about the new visitors’ admission policy. The enacting of a mandatory participation for non New York residents visitors already made a splash. With the nomination of Max Hollein, the idea is to bet on a personality that is known for his aggressive fundraising policy and his actions in the field of digital innovation.

Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Max Hollein: a personality combining Art and technology

The new Director will be me more precisely in charge of the exhibitions, acquisitions and programming. As a result, it is a significant challenge. However, Max Hollein seems to have all the necessary assets to overcome it. Prior to directing the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Max Hollein was the head of several institutions in Frankfurt. Among others, he managed the Städel Museum which is internationally recognized for its collection of Old Masters paintings. In that context, he developed an innovative digital strategy while rising important founds. It enabled the renovation and expansion of the Museum. It is rather a rare case in Europe where Museums usually receives a much stronger support from the governments. As a result, with Max Hollein, the MET in New York found a delicate balance between economic efficiency and artistic vision.

What to expect from Max Hollein’s mandate?

Max Hollein’s personality is unique in the Museums’ world. Indeed, it surprised everyone by creating at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco a Minecraft video game map of the Teotihuacan pyramid on the occasion of an exhibition about the Mexican Archaeological sites. The exhibition came along with a complete Spanish translation as well as online materials to widen its access. In that context, Max Hollein already told the New York Times that it was important for the Metropolitan Museum to “open up.” According to him “the MET has the opportunity to be not just an Art destination but a major provider of understanding and different narratives to a global audience.” However, some analysts such as Executive Director of the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College Tom Eccles, regret the institution’s choice has once again selected a white man. “This could have been a moment for the MET to take a leap into the present” said Tom Eccles to the New York Times.

The Städel Museum in Francfort

Städel Museum, Frankfurt


Read our article about the participation of painter Artist Josiane Pape to the Salon de Printemps des Arts d’Aujourd’hui here.

Sources: Artsy and The New York Times