As of June 30, 2017, Metropolitan Museum Director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell will resign from his position in order to “pursue new challenges beyond the Met, always in service of art, scholarship, and understanding,” according to a press release from the museum.
Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president and chief operating officer will be serving as interim chief executive while working with Campbell on a transition plan while the museum’s board seeks a new director.
Campbell began his career at the Met in 1996, as an assistant curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts and supervising curator of the Antonio Ratti Textile Center. He was appointed as CEO by the Met’s board in the fall of 2008.
In the course of his tenure as Director and CEO, Campbell saw overall museum attendance grow by 40 percent to a record-breaking seven million visitors across the museum’s three sites—the museum itself, the Met Breuer (a building formerly occupied by the Whitney Museum of American Art), and the Met Cloisters. It was also named by Trip Advisor as the #1 museum in the world for two years in a row.
Although in the museum’s press release about Campbell’s departure Board Chairman Daniel Brodsky had nothing but glowing things to say about Campbell, The New York Times reports that Campbell resigned under pressure.
Despite the museum’s successes under Campbell’s leadership, his financial decisions and expansion plans had been criticized as having led to a massive deficit. In fact, much of Campbell’s agenda, including the construction of a $600 million wing for Modern and contemporary art, was postponed or scrapped due to the museum’s dire financial state.
Shortly after Weiss was hired as COO in 2015, he announced that the Met would have a $40 million deficit unless it addressed growing costs and added more revenue.
The Board is not looking to appoint a new director right away, Brodsky said in a letter to board and staff members, “but instead will take some time to consider the leadership needs of the museum in a thoughtful and deliberative way.”
Nevertheless, there has been a lot of speculation in the art world about who might replace Campbell at the Met’s helm. Though the usual suspects—directors of other high-profile art museums, primarily—have been floated, some think that the job will be offered to Weiss. If the board does intend to hire Weiss, it remains to be seen if he is able or willing to take that job.