Upheaval Over Race Reaches Met Museum After Curator’s Instagram Post

THE NEW YORK TIMES
By Robin Pogrebin
Keith Christiansen, the chairman of the European paintings department at the Met, wrote that “great works of art have been lost to the desire to rid ourselves of a past of which we don’t approve.” He later apologized for any pain his post had caused “on a very important day.” Vincent Tullo for The New York Times
The turmoil coursing through cultural institutions around the country on the subject of race has made its way to the biggest museum of them all: the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Now, Met Museum employees are sounding their own alarm, prompted by a personal Instagram posting on Friday by the museum’s powerful chairman of European paintings, Keith Christiansen, who has worked at the Met since 1977. [This] top curator’s Instagram post that seemed critical of protests over monuments and the Black Lives Matters movement — shared on Juneteenth — has ignited objections by staff members, and a larger internal critique. [More]
An image of Alexandre Lenoir, who tried to save monuments during the French Revolution, was posted on Instagram by Mr. Christiansen. Bridgeman Images
“And how grateful we are to people like Lenoir,” Mr. Christiansen continued, “who realized that their value — both artistic and historical — extended beyond a defining moment of social and political upheaval and change.” While Mr. Christiansen appeared to be arguing for the preservation of monuments, he also struck some as insensitive and tone deaf. The post was criticized in a tweet by the advocacy group of arts workers, Art + Museum Transparency: “Dear @metmuseum, one of your most powerful curators suggested that it’s a shame we’re trying to ‘rid ourselves of a past of which we don’t approve’ by removing monuments — and, worse, making a dog whistle of an equation of #BLM activists with ‘revolutionary zealots.’ This is not OK.”

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