Museums Cultural exchange USA

Global forum of museum directors to meet at the Met in New York

Thomas Campbell aims to strengthen relations with Latin American, African and Asian institutions

The Met's director, Thomas Campbell, who spoke at the TED conference last year, is planning a museum leaders colloquium next year

The director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas Campbell, plans to strengthen the institution’s international relations by inviting a small group of fellow directors from across the world to come to New York for an in-depth “colloquium” next year. Due to be hosted by the Met in the spring (7-18 April 2014), Campbell hopes that the directors of museums in Latin America, Africa and Asia in particular will attend.

“I commissioned a report to look at all our international activities and what we might add. We are doing things for conservators, curators and scholars but the gap is at a museum leadership level,” he says.

Traditionally, leading US and European museum directors have met at events such the one organised annually by the 60-strong Bizot Group. The meetings are relatively brief, however, and brokering loan exhibitions is high on the agenda.

Campbell says that through this new programme, which is being funded by the Met, the museum wants to better engage with institutions in Latin America and Africa as well as the Middle East and Asia, hence its reaching out to museum leaders in these regions of “new wealth”.

Called the Global Museum Leaders Colloquium, Campbell hopes that over a fortnight, participants will discuss museum management, education and cultural issues to share knowledge, find common ground and build long-term relationships.

“I’m very conscious that our European peers, with significant government funding, have been starting various initiatives around the world,” he says. “I’m also very conscious that we’re all increasingly thinking globally because of digitisation, cheaper travel and the greater mobility of our audiences.” He hopes to attract funding from donors to develop the programme. “It is a long-term investment, hopefully, it will open the gate to exhibitions and other programmes that the public will benefit from,” he says.

The colloquium will be moderated by András Szántó, a contributor to The Art Newspaper who advised the Met on the development and organisation of the forum. “Leaders in other fields—think of Davos—have opportunities to spend quality time with each other and build trust,” he says, but in museums, meetings tend to be very brief, ceremonial and about “quick deal making”. He says that he hopes the 12 to 15 leaders who take up the invitation to come to the Met will be a diverse group “geographically and institutionally”.

Participants are due to be announced in November, and the programme will involve directors of institutions with collections ranging from archaeology to Modern and contemporary art. Site visits to institutions in New York and Washington, DC, will complement peer-group discussions at the Met and meetings with senior staff from across the institution.

More from The Art Newspaper


12 Nov 14
16:1 CET


Is there a follow up on this article? Any news about what happened during the colloquium?

7 Apr 14
21:58 CET


I think this is a great idea. The one that must be encouraged for all museum directors in order to grow museum leadership across the globe.

Submit a comment

All comments are moderated. If you would like your comment to be approved, please use your real name, not a pseudonym. We ask for your email address in case we wish to contact you - it will not be made public and we do not use it for any other purpose.


Want to write a longer comment to this article? Email


Share this