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Max Hollein: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met's Director, Max Hollein, reflects on the challenges and multiple roles of the Museum both as a local and global institution.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Courtesy of the Met. | Right: A screen displaying COVID-19 information on March 2020 in New York City. Photo: Noam Galai.

The Directors’ Series examines the future of museums as shaped by current events. In a recent conversation with Shifting Vision, Max Hollein, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art discussed the museum as both a local and global institution in light of the pandemic.

‘During the last 12 months we have all become more local in everything that we have been doing and experiencing. Usually, people from around the world come to our museum but right now our visitors are 90 per cent from New York City.’

The local focus brings interesting opportunities, Hollein said. ‘A museum’s local audience is very important. It’s one you can engage with continuously. What has happened during the past 12 months is that people from New York realised how much they appreciate the Met, and how much they missed it if they hadn’t visited in a while. We want to build on that reconnection, to create more cohesion with that audience.’

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

The challenge going forward is that at its core, the Met is not a local institution, it’s a global one. ‘The Met is not only about the world, it’s for the world. We are not a collection that came out of nationalistic ideals—our collection was built by citizens in the last 150 years, to show great work to the world. I don’t think it could have happened anywhere but New York, not only because of the philanthropy here, but also because New York was the logical intersection, with so many different people coming through,’ Hollein said.

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

‘Our challenge now, and our opportunity, is that we need to become more “hyper local” in other places. The museum has to become multi-centric in its outreach. That’s not necessarily through satellite institutions. It means being accessible and engaging in local places around the world. We want to be local internationally.’

Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Related links

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Is Seeing That Renoir Essential? In the Pandemic, Cities Differ, The New York Times, 2020

How Three Very Different Museums Are Dealing with the COVID-19 Crisis, Artsy, 2020

The Met Goes Beyond Its Doors to Pick a Leader Who Bridges Art and Technology, The New York Times, 2018

With special thanks to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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