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Met Museum to Cut Exhibits and Delay Expansion Amid Financial Woes: Report

By Shaye Weaver | February 7, 2017 5:08pm
 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
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DNAinfo/Eliza Fawcett

UPPER EAST SIDE — The Metropolitan Museum of Art is planning to slash the number of exhibits it shows and is delaying a long-planned expansion by several years due to financial troubles, according to a New York Times report.

The Met reportedly plans to reduce the number of exhibits it shows from 60 a year to 40, and delay a $600 million expansion to build a new wing for modern and contemporary art — the latest in cutbacks by the museum, which currently faces a $40 million deficit.

Thomas P. Campbell, the Met's director and chief executive since 2008, made a litany of poor decisions that may have contributed to the museum's hardship, Met employees told the Times.

Last winter, the Met funneled $3 million into a rebranding effort and millions more toward the museum's new Met Breuer building at Madison Avenue and East 75th Street.

Campbell tried to do "too much too fast," over-hired in the digital department, overspent on the Met Breuer and on rebranding, overdrew from endowment funds to cover costs, and pursued the new wing before financing was in place, taking away from core departments to focus on modern and contemporary art, the employees said.

The Met did not respond to requests for comment.

“It’s a tragedy to see a great institution in decline. To have inherited a museum as strong as the Met was 10 years ago — with a great curatorial staff — and to have it be what it is today is unimaginable," George R. Goldner, a former chairman of the Met's drawings and prints department told the Times, adding that the museum "has been through a trying year."

"My colleagues have every right to feel upset," he said. "At the same time, one has to step back and look at the success of the institution."

Roughly 7,000,000 people visit the museum, including its Met Breuer and the Cloisters, each year, and 557,000 people alone visited the Breuer since its opening in March 2016, the report states.

The Met recently made its images of public domain artworks freely available through a new open access policy.

“We’ve made remarkable progress, but these things are flexible, and they need modulation,” Campbell told the Times. “In the same period, we have had to balance our expenditures and our income. In light of that, we’re certainly doing some recalibration on the goals we’ve set ourselves.”