- Elginism - http://www.elginism.com -

MacGregor will be staying at British Museum for another four years

When Philippe de Montebello [1] announced his retirement from New York’s Metropolitan Museum [2], British Museum director Neil MacGregor was one of the people tipped to replace him. The British Museum has just announced though that although he was offered the post, he has turned it down with the intention of staying with the British Museum until 2012.

During the next four years though, whilst MacGregor may continue trying to resist change, he may find that he is left with little choice, with the carpet being swept out from under him by changing views on restitution in the Museums’ world.

Daily Telegraph [3]

British Museum director says no to Metropolitan Museum of Art move
By Anita Singh, Showbusiness Editor
Last Updated: 6:42PM BST 01/07/2008
British Museum director Neil MacGregor has turned down a job as head of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mr MacGregor was approached as a possible replacement for Philippe de Montebello, who is stepping down as Met director at the end of this year.

But after weighing up the offer, he has pledged his future to the British Museum for another five year term.

“I alawys made it clear that I wanted to stay at the British Museum. The opportunities and challenges for a world collection in London are clearly limitless,” he said.

Niall FitzGerald, chairman of the board of trustees at the London institution, said MacGregor’s decision to stay was “hugely joyous news”.

MacGregor joined the British Museum in 2002 from the National Gallery.

He made his announcement as figures showed that the museum was the UK’s most visited cultural attraction of the past year, thanks in large part to the Terracotta Warriors exhibition.

Visitor numbers for 2007-8 were a record-breaking six millio, placing the Museum ahead of Tate Modern, The National Gallery and the Natural History Museum.

Bloomberg News [4]

British Museum’s MacGregor Was Asked to Run the Met, Said No
By Farah Nayeri

July 1 (Bloomberg) — British Museum Director Neil MacGregor was approached to be the next head of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has preferred to keep his London job for another five years, the British Museum said.

At a press breakfast, Chairman Niall FitzGerald said that MacGregor had agreed to lead the museum through 2012. MacGregor took over in 2002.

Referring to the Met, British Museum Head of Press Hannah Boulton later said, “He was approached by them, he had a conversation with them, but in the course of that conversation he ruled himself out of the job of running the Met.”

The Metropolitan Museum of Art did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment.

MacGregor — whose museum today announced a record 6.049 million visitors in the year ended March 31 — has been cited by the press as a possible successor to the Met’s retiring director, Philippe de Montebello. In interviews, including with Bloomberg News, MacGregor has said he is eager to stay in London.

Asked today if he was offered the Met job, MacGregor said only that the Met’s search committee had “a very large number of conversations with people who were not candidates” about the Met’s future.

`World Collection’

He explained why he was so fond of the British Museum. “The opportunities and challenges for a world collection in London are limitless,” he said. “I think they’re probably greater in London than anywhere in the world, because of the composition of London, but also because of the composition of these collections.”

MacGregor, 62, also said that the Met was “not a public museum. This is a public museum. That’s one of the things that I like.” London’s public museums, he said, have “always been absolutely free to everybody from the beginning, and that’s part of their founding principle.”

At the breakfast, the museum said that more than 850,000 people visited the “First Emperor” exhibition of clay warriors from the tomb of Chinese Emperor Qin Shihuangdi, which ended in April. It was the most visited show in over three decades.

“Hadrian: Empire and Conflict” (July 24 through Oct. 26) will show the Roman emperor in a “slightly tougher” light, said MacGregor, who recalled Hadrian’s crushing of the Jewish Revolt.

Iranian Ruler

The next sovereign in the spotlight: Shah Abbas, who ruled Iran in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, made Shiism the country’s state religion, and Isfahan the capital. Asked how the king was viewed by present-day Iranians, curator Sheila Canby, who was seated at a table with the Iranian ambassador, replied, “I don’t think there’s a great love of Shahs these days.”

Finally, “Moctezuma” (September 2009 through January 2010) will focus on the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II, who ruled from 1502 to 1521 and laid the foundations of modern Mexico.

Over the past year, the museum has been working on plans for the new building, which will include a temporary exhibition space and room for the scientific and conservation teams. The aim is to make a planning application in the autumn, MacGregor said.

Last Updated: July 1, 2008 09:39 EDT