President of The Met Museum Shares Career Insights

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President of The Met Museum Shares Career Insights

Claire Jeantheau ’21, Staff Writer

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The president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) talked about how The Met grapples with the big issues facing museums today in a recent lecture at Dickinson.

Daniel Weiss, president and CEO of The Met in New York,  delivered the annual Weiner Lecture, “Museums, Society, and the Public Interest.” Weiss talked about challenges facing the museum and the value of public interaction. 

Weiss talked about what he called the “three major issues” for The Met: cultural heritage, resource management and the judgement of whether art oversteps ethical boundaries. 

Weiss considered how to acquire pieces and represent civilizations fairly in his discussion of cultural heritage.“The cultures of the world have more in common than we think they do, and perhaps, to use a word that’s bandied about too often these days, it builds empathy” to understand a work from a culture other than one’s own, Weiss said.  

Alden Mohacsi ’19, a history major who interned at the Art Institute of Chicago in summer 2018, found the challenges discussed by Weiss relevant to his own experiences. 

“I thought that [Weiss] touched on many of the pressing issues of current museums. Given my own experience in museum education, it was refreshing to know that The Met’s education program is pushing for more inclusivity across all different kinds of demographics,” Mohacsi said.

According to Weiss, who began his time as Met president in 2015, the museum receives 20,000 to 40,000 visitors a day and holds 38,000 events or activities a year. He said The Met plays an integral role in public life in New York City. 

“There’s something of enduring importance and value to people in places like the Met…and I think it has to do with the…comforting nature of being able to come [to] that museum all the time throughout your life,” Weiss said. 

Natalie Ginez ’21 praised Weiss’s ability to connect with the lecture attendees. 

“The talk was great because it was very engaging and informative and he knew how to appeal to his audience…I hope others who are interested in pursuing a career in the museum field were as inspired by this talk as I was,” Ginez said. 

Melinda Schlitt, professor of art history, invited Weiss to Dickinson.

“Dan and I have known each other for 37 years, beginning with when we were first-year graduate students in the History of Art Department at The Johns Hopkins University.  We have stayed in touch over the years and followed each other’s careers, and once he became President and CEO of The Met, I thought he would be a great speaker,” Schlitt stated in a written response.

“Museums, Society, and the Public Interest” was held on Thursday, March. 7, at 5:30 p.m. in the Rubendall Recital Hall. Weiss’s lecture was this year’s Jane L. and Robert H. Weiner Lecture in the Fine Arts, an annual talk focused within the art field sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History.