The Met Wants to Be Less Old and Stuffy

Photo: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The board of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, an institution known chiefly for the role its steps play on Gossip Girl and secondarily for housing the greatest collection of art in the world, yesterday approved the hire of Sheena Wagstaff, who’s been the head curator of London’s Tate Modern for the past ten years. She’ll run a brand new department at the Met, devoted entirely to 20th- and 21st-century art, which had previously been lumped in with earlier stuff, and effectively deprioritzed. The museum has never tried terribly hard to compete in the contemporary art world, but that’s poised to change, as the museum will take over the Whitney’s building at 75th and Madison by 2015. Of Wagstaff, fellow Brit and curator Thomas Campbell (a tapestry specialist who’s slowly pushed the museum toward modern art since the beginning of his tenure three years ago) told the Times, “There was chemistry.” Everyone thinks they’ve got chemistry when there’s a British accent involved.