the take

Who’s Snooty Enough to Replace Philippe de Montebello?

The Met’s departing director, Philippe de Montebello, who was as famous for his patrician air and his mastery of six languages as he was for his impeccable stewardship of the museum, will be a tough act to follow, and this morning the Times discusses several of the potential candidates. We don’t know that much about what it takes to run the Met, other than a closet full of bespoke suits, but we’d expect that any potential candidate would need to measure up to De Montebello’s aristocratic persona. That’s why rather than judge the hopefuls on their qualifications or expertise, we’re going to judge them on how snooty they seem based on their photo and résumé. Thankfully, Vulture has just the tool: our Snootometer™, which precisely measures the snootiness of any individual on a scale of zero (John Goodman) to 10 (the maître d’ from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off).

Courtesy of Kimbell Museum (Potts);
Getty (Goodman); (maître d’)

Timothy Potts. Though he’s 49, he looks 22. And though he runs the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, he previously ran a museum in Fort Worth, Texas. We don’t care how important the Kimbell Art Museum is, Fort Worth is not snooty enough. Also, he appears to be smiling in this photo: not snooty!


Michael Govan. According to the Times, he’s “the dark-horse candidate,” and that’s certainly true according to the Snootometer as well. His experience running the Dia Art Foundation and, more recently, a museum in (gasp) Los Angeles, suggest glitz and dazzle rather than snoot. Also, while handsome, he looks like a dude you’d see outside Butter on any given night.

Photo: AP

James Cuno. Plus: A doctorate in art history from Harvard. Minuses: Runs a museum in Chicago, a city known to most Met board members as a place airplanes are sometimes forced to stop on the way to Tokyo. A “talented and aggressive builder and fund-raiser,” which suggests he has to work for funding rather than imperiously demand it. Also, while we appreciate that he is rocking the receding hairline-beard combo, this feels less “snooty museum director” and more “guy your younger sister dates that makes you feel sort of weird.”

Photo: Patrick McMullan

Gary Tinterow. An influential scholar in European art and the curator in charge of nineteenth century, modern, and contemporary art at the Met, Tinterow certainly has the snooty bona fides. We also love his glasses. On the other hand, we hear he’s actually quite well liked inside the Met, which suggests he might not be snooty enough.

Photo: Getty Images

Glenn D. Lowry. The hugely successful director of MoMA has all the credentials to be a world-class snoot: He’s the steward of a major New York museum; he has a doctorate from Harvard; and he’s got a powerful nose, perfect for raising in the air and sniffing. We’re a bit worried, though, about his former position before MoMA: running a museum in Toronto. Is he Canadian? If so, major deduction.

Photo: Getty Images

Neil MacGregor. While we’re a little concerned about MacGregor’s pronouncements that keeping art free for the masses is a priority, we’re willing to overlook that flaw in light of his British Museum and National Gallery of London directorships; his experience as a university lecturer and an art-museum editor; and the Times reference to “languages,” which suggests he speaks quite a few. Also, in this photo, he is pointing at a painting with his pinkie. Ladies and gentlemen, meet your new director!

Let the Horse Race Begin: The Search for a Successor [NYT]

Who’s Snooty Enough to Replace Philippe de Montebello?