New Met Director Plays Down Sarah Palin Comparisons

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From the series Chechen Women's Team of Parachute Jumping and Its Virtual Fans (2008). Photo: Getty Images (Palin); Courtesy of the Met (Campbell)

Thomas who? The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s out-of-left-field choice for new director and CEO has some at rival institutions comparing the well-liked 46-year-old curator with little management experience to Sarah Palin. At his press conference today, Thomas P. Campbell, a plummy-toned, bespectacled Brit who’s been at the museum since 1995, brushed aside similarities: “I don’t hunt and, to the best of my knowledge, I don’t have a 17-year-old who is pregnant,” he said. The new job is “a dream come true for me,” he said, grinning.

Campbell replaces Philippe de Montebello, who’s retiring at year-end after 31 years. But will the choice of Campbell, a expert in the unlikely field of tapestries, do justice to the Met’s twentieth century and contemporary art’s holdings, a darling department to some deep-pocketed donors? Campbell said it was “too early to weigh in” — but he may be putting out the welcome mat to some famous names. He pointedly praised Brit museum shows that have invited noted artists to serve as museum curators. "The Eye of Koons," perhaps?