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Everything you ever wanted to know about the art market but didn't know who to ask
26 September 2019

Guest Max Hollein in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's recording studio. Photo by Matthew Magelof

#65: Metropolitan Museum Director Max Hollein

A year after taking the reins at one of the world’s largest and most important art institutions, Max Hollein joins host Charlotte Burns to discuss future plans for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Met director discusses the distinct role he believes the museum can play in terms of contemporary art, and gives an update on recently-stalled plans for the David Chipperfield-led renovation of the Modern and contemporary wing—part of more than $1bn the museum is slated to spend on renovations and expansions.

He talks about the Met’s finances, which are almost back on track after a deficit, and about the perhaps unique challenges and opportunities of fundraising at the New York museum: “At the Met, you're always being confronted with endless opportunities,” he says. “If you're not clear on where you want the institution to go—what mission you want to fulfill, what are the important steps to get there—you can get distracted at any moment in time. And you could get opportunistic.”

None of the Met’s initiatives—including a $70m overhaul of the African, Oceanic and American art galleries—would be possible without fundraising support from the board. “It's clear that American institutions are being built on—and will only continue to further thrive and develop on—the whole idea of philanthropy,” he says, adding that “the responsibility of the institution is to make sure that the philanthropy represented on the board actually shows the diversity of interests on it.”

In a week in which the Met returned to Egypt an ancient gilded coffin that had been the centerpiece of the exhibition “Nedjemankh and His Gilded Coffin", but which prosecutors deemed to have been looted, Hollein talks about how the Met is tackling the fraught issue of cultural repatriation. He talks about the museum as a platform for debates: from the morality of where sponsorship money comes from to diversity in programing and governance.   

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Art Agency, Partners is a bespoke art advisory firm founded in 2014, and built upon decades of combined experience, to provide counsel to many of the world's leading art collectors and institutions on collection assessment and development, estate planning, and innovative approaches to museum giving and growth.

Editor Charlotte Burns