Former Director, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Stephen M. Kellen Distinguished Visitor - Class of Spring 2007
Philippe de Montebello was the longest-serving director in the distinguished history of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Under his directorship, the museum doubled in size to two million square feet and significant renovations are underway in the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan galleries, as well as of the American wing and the expanded nineteenth-century galleries. During his tenure, de Montebello has overseen important decisions such as the recent acquisition of “Madonna and Child” by the Renaissance master Duccio di Buoninsegna and the resolution to return a dubiously acquired precious Greek vase known as the Euphronius krater to Italy.
De Montebello was educated at the Lycée Français in New York, where he received his baccalauréat in 1958. He continued his studies in art history at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude, before entering New York University’s prestigious Institute of Fine Arts under French Renaissance art expert Charles Sterling. De Montebello stopped short of receiving his doctorate when, in 1963, he was given the opportunity to work for the Met as a curatorial assistant in the Department of European Paintings. Thus began his career at the institution to which he was to dedicate his entire professional life, with the exception of a four-and-a-half-year interim (1969-1974) as director of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. In 1991 France crowned Philippe de Montebello a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. He was awarded the National Medal of the Arts in 2002.