The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a new director. Max Hollein currently leads the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. After beginning his career at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, he was Director and CEO of three of Germany’s most prestigious art institutions, including the Städel Museum, Frankfurt. An accomplished curator and museum leader, Mr. Hollein has demonstrated exceptional skill at building collections, diversifying audiences, and broadening institutional development. He was elected at a meeting of the Board of Trustees yesterday 11 April and will assume the directorship of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the summer of 2018.
Mr. Hollein will be responsible for the artistic vision and leadership of the Museum
“The Board of Trustees announced the appointment of Mr Hollein as the tenth Director of The Met Museum” Daniel Brodsky, Chairman of the Board of Trustees said, “He is an innovative and inspiring museum leader and has a proven record of building collections and organizing outstanding exhibitions. His knowledge of and passion for art is expansive, and we have great confidence that he will develop a shared vision and a strong collaboration with our extraordinary curators, conservators, program leaders, and supporters.”
The Director reports to The Met’s President and CEO, Dan Weiss, and both Mr. Weiss and Mr. Hollein will report to the Board of Trustees. Mr. Weiss said, “Max is a gifted leader and is exceptionally well qualified to serve as our next Director. I am confident that ours will be a strong and fruitful partnership, and that Max will help advance The Met’s role as a global leader for culture and the arts.”
Hollein’s appointment follows a yearlong search led by the Museum’s Search Committee, which was co-chaired by Candace Beinecke and Richard Chilton. The search began with the development of a job description informed by the participation of more than 400 staff, trustees, and supporters. The committee then received approximately 100 nominations, comprising a broad and diverse pool, and met more than 25 times before and during the interview process.
Ms. Beinecke said, “There was tremendous enthusiasm for this leadership opportunity, especially the chance to work with The Met’s exceptionally talented curatorial, conservation, and program staff. We sought a broad pool of museum leaders, and we were gratified by the diversity and quality of the candidates we considered. We are thrilled that Max will be joining The Met.” Mr. Chilton said, “The Met is the largest museum in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Max’s passion for encyclopedic museums, for art, for scholarship, and for engaging local and global audiences is a wonderful fit for The Met.”
Mr. Hollein will be responsible for the artistic vision and leadership of the Museum and its encyclopedic collection of nearly 2 million objects spanning 5,000 years. The Director’s responsibilities include oversight of the Museum’s curatorial, conservation, and scientific research departments; its exhibition and acquisition activities; education and public outreach; and other mission-oriented areas, including the libraries, digital initiatives, publications, imaging, the registrar, and design.
“I am deeply honored to work for this great institution and very much look forward to collaborating with its esteemed staff – Max Hollein
“I am deeply honored to work for this great institution and very much look forward to collaborating with its esteemed staff, the Board of Trustees, and Dan Weiss,” Mr. Hollein said. “The Met is recognized around the world as a leader in the museum field by virtue of its exceptional collection, groundbreaking scholarship, and educational outreach. Founded on the idea of bringing the cultures of the world to one place, The Met remains a unique place where visitors can experience firsthand the artistic achievements of humankind. We now have many other ways to disseminate cultural education and knowledge, and an obligation to do so. Celebrating artistic excellence goes hand in hand with broadening the stories we tell about the works of art in our care. Together with Dan, I hope to provide the guidance, energy, and support needed to lead this beloved institution into the future and inspire its audiences in New York and around the world.”
Born in Vienna, Hollein studied art history at the University of Vienna (Masters of Art History, summa cum laude) and business administration at the Vienna University of Economics. He began his career at the Guggenheim Museum as Chief of Staff and Executive Assistant to the Director. After six years he moved to Frankfurt to lead the Schirn Kunsthalle, which focuses on modern and contemporary art, and in 2006 was appointed to lead, in addition, the Städel Museum, which houses one of Germany’s most outstanding collections of old master, nineteenth-century, and modern art, and the Liebieghaus, whose world-renowned sculpture collection ranges from ancient Egypt to Neoclassicism.
During his tenure in Frankfurt, Hollein’s accomplishments included doubling the gallery space of the Städel Museum; developing a major digital strategy and redefining the museum’s communications and marketing; establishing new collecting areas; and implementing three of the most ambitious exhibition programs in Europe, which together cover thousands of years, from antiquities to contemporary art. All three institutions experienced unprecedented growth during his tenure and saw record levels of attendance. The Städel was named Museum of the Year by the German members of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). Mr. Hollein’s digital innovations at the Frankfurt museums became a role model for other institutions throughout Europe.
In addition to his roles in museum management and development, Hollein has organized a number of major exhibitions in modern and contemporary art, larger survey shows, and special projects such as the American pavilion at the Seventh Venice Architecture Biennale (2000) and the Austrian pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale (2005). His exhibition on Julian Schnabel opens in San Francisco this month.
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which includes the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor, is the largest public arts institution in Northern California. With a collective membership of more than 100,000 and an educational program that serves over 200,000 students, they are among the most visited museums in the country. Hollein’s tenure in San Francisco has been characterized by strong leadership and visionary programming combined with rigorous fiscal management leading to a balanced budget. In addition to reorganizing the management team and establishing an outstanding program of contemporary art, he pioneered acquisitions in underrepresented areas of the collection and implemented an ambitious exhibition program.
Dede Wilsey, Chairman of the Board of the Fine Arts Museums, said, “While it is sad to see Max leave and we would have wished to be able to benefit much longer from his strong and visionary leadership, we are impressed and energized by all the achievements, development, and momentum that he brought to our museums in the past two years.”
Mr. Hollein is the editor and author of numerous exhibition catalogues in the area of nineteenth century and modern and contemporary art as well as other museum publications, books, and essays. He has lectured extensively on the history of museums, museum management, the art market, and modern and contemporary art. He has a distinguished record in New York, Europe, and San Francisco of managing complex institutions, developing a strong curatorial vision, building exceptional programming, expanding audiences, and fostering professional collaboration.
Hollein is a member of supervisory and advisory boards of major cultural institutions worldwide, including the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg; National Gallery, Prague; Ludwig Foundation, Vienna; and Neue Galerie, New York. In 2009 he was named a Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister of Culture. He received the Austrian Medal of Honor for Science and the Arts in 2010, the Binding Cultural Prize (the highest endowed cultural prize in Hesse) in 2015, and the Goethe badge of honor (the highest accolade of the Hessian Ministry of Culture) in 2016.
The Search Committee was formed in spring 2017. In addition to Ms. Beinecke and Mr. Chilton, its members included Charles N. Atkins, Samantha Boardman, N. Anthony Coles, Blair Effron, Mark Fisch, Jeffrey W. Greenberg, J. Tomilson Hill, Hamilton E. James, Howard Marks, Sir Paul Ruddock, Bonnie J. Sacerdote, Alejandro Santo Domingo, Andrew Saul, Lulu C. Wang, and Dasha Zhukova. Mr. Brodsky and Mr. Weiss were ex officio members of the committee.
The Met has hit several milestones in the past year. Visitors exceeded 7 million annual visitors for the first time. The Museum was named the world’s number one museum by TripAdvisor for an unprecedented third consecutive year, and the exhibition program received exceptional critical acclaim. The Met had one of its strongest fundraising years in its 147-year history, and also built upon its collection with significant gifts of art and acquisitions. This is also the second year in a financial transformation that has put The Met on a path to achieve a balanced budget by 2020.