Museums provide places of relaxation and inspiration. And most importantly, they are a place of authenticity. We live in a world of reproductions – the objects in museums are real. It’s a way to get away from the overload of digital technology.
My goal is that we should have a rich engagement online that caters to a general and scholarly audience and that can provide a seamless experience for people, whether they are up the road or on the other side of the world.
The Metropolitan Museum has all of our collections online, all our scholarly publications and catalogues since 1965. We have online features like the timeline of art history.
European museums are all dependent on government financing. The moment European governments are under financial pressure, their budgets are cut.
What I am out to do is make sure that the Met continues to be the most exciting encyclopedic museum in the world. I want to sustain the vibrancy that makes it exciting to work here, that makes it exciting for visitors. The art remains central.
I would probably have been very content as a scholar to have carried on organising exhibitions and writing books and teaching.
The Great Hall at the Met is one of the great portals of the world… From there, you can walk in any direction to almost any culture.
When I first started coming to New York in the early Nineties and seeing the vitality of the programme compared to what was going on back in London or Paris, it was just in a different league. It’s like a 16th-century court.
My day starts at 8 in the morning. I have meetings through the day into the evening and very often dinners and benefits at night. This is nonstop.
We live in a world of crisis, of challenge, and… it’s in our galleries that we can unpack the civilizations that we’re seeing the current manifestations of.
Museums are like the quiet car of the world. It’s a place you can come to escape, where there’s authenticity, there’s uniqueness, there’s calm, there’s physicality.
Technology is in fact one of the most exciting things that’s happened to museums today – but one has to be careful about where one uses it. For instance, the Internet provides an incredible opportunity. It is a way for us to reach audiences around the world and further our educational mission.
I think for most Americans, knowledge of the Islamic world was pretty slight before 9/11, and then it was thrust upon us in one of America’s darkest hours.