Originally created 06/17/04

Metropolitan Museum of Art creates new department



NEW YORK -- A new department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be responsible for showing the past and present of modern and contemporary art in all media.

The department, which opens July 1, will be called Nineteenth-Century, Modern and Contemporary Art, the museum announced Tuesday. The curator will be Gary Tinterow, who has been the museum's Engelhard curator of 19th-century European paintings.

The reorganization represents more than an expansion or administrative change, Met director Philippe de Montebello said in a statement.

"It is the result of a finely calibrated effort to rethink the Metropolitan's entire approach to the field of modern art," he said.

The reorganization comes shortly after the announcement of plans to expand gallery space over the next few years, giving the new department 10,000 square feet on the second floor of the south end of the Manhattan museum, which is at Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street.

The new department includes European paintings from 1800 to the present and international 20th-century sculptures, drawings, prints, decorative arts and designs.

Tinterow called the new department "a significant change" for the museum.

"It's one that will be perceived by the public," he said. "Traditionally, the Met has been a collection of museums within a museum, but my intention is to break down some of the arbitrary and artificial barriers that exist between departments."

William Lieberman, curator of the museum's current department of modern art, will be a consultant to the new department, de Montebello said.

"By making these carefully considered changes, the Metropolitan is also recognizing the increasing importance that the modern era will occupy in the museum's future programs of acquisitions and exhibitions," he said.

The museum's modern art collection boasts 12,000 works in all media, including pieces by Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

On the Net:

Metropolitan Museum of Art: http://www.metmuseum.org