My Take on the Met’s Appointment of David Breslin as New

I’ve known and liked the knowledgeable, affable David Breslin when he served at the Clark Art Institute (where I first met him when he was associate director of the Clark’s Research and Academic Program and its associate curator of contemporary projects) and at the Whitney Museum (where he was curator and director of the collection, and subsequently curator and director of curatorial initiatives).

You may already have seen my tweeted take on today’s announcement of his new gig at the Metropolitan Museum as its curator in charge of modern and contemporary art, succeeding Sheena Wagstaff (who has already left). In Sheena’s absence, Kelly Baum, the Met’s contemporary art curator, has temporarily served as acting curator in charge of modern and contemporary art.

Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Is it too late for David to rummage through the Met’s storage areas to seek a few pieces to be installed in its barren roof garden? The Lauren Halsey display that had been planned for this summer was postponed until next year is now rescheduled for 2023 (Apr. 18-Oct. 22). Why can’t something else be expeditiously installed?

Speaking of a possible to-do list—Is it too late for David to have any say in the decision to replace David Chipperfield with Frida Escobedo as architect for the Met’s renovation of its Southwest Wing for modern and contemporary art (now renamed the Oscar L. Tang and H.M. Agnes Hsu-Tang Wing for its lead donors)?

Met’s Asian art curators in 2015, with then director Tom Campbell (in blue suit) & lead donor Oscar Tang (at right)
Photo by Lee Rosenbaum

Last February, Tang’s wife, an archaeologist, became chair of the New-York Historical Society’s board of trustees. According to the N-YHS’s press release, she will “lead and act on a variety of initiatives including the construction of New-York Historical’s expansion of its Central Park West home—a 70,000 square foot annex designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, with one floor dedicated to the American LGBTQ+ Museum.”

H.M. Agnes Hsu-Tang
Photo: Elena Olivo for New-York Historical Society

This means that she and her husband will be shepherding (and underwriting) major museum capital projects just across Central Park from each other.

Should the park’s 79th Street Traverse be renamed, “Tang’s Way”?

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