New York’s Metropolitan Museum has announced that it has beaten its own record of 6.7 million annual visitors established last year. Between June 2016 and June 2017 the Met received more than 7 million visitors in its three branches: the Metropolitan Museum on Fifth Avenue, the Met Breuer and the Met Cloisters. The record was achieved due to the success of the Met Breuer (500,000 visitors), which was installed in the former Whitney Museum building in March 2016. In recent months, the museum has organised an excellent exhibition of the early photographs of Diane Arbus, a successful exhibition of unfinished paintings (Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible), and a retrospective of the contemporary artist Kerry James Marshall.
The statement reveals that the Met remains one of New York’s favourite museums: 30% of its visitors live in the city, while 37% come from abroad. This year the institution has mounted particularly eclectic and popular exhibitions. The most well received have been those dedicated to the mediaeval history of Jerusalem, the German painter Max Beckmann, the art of the Qing and Han dynasties in China (Age of Empires), and the show dedicated to the stylist and founder of the brand Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawabuko.
Nonetheless, the Met has been in great difficulty in recent months. The combination of its growing financial problems and the scandal surrounding the departure of its director Thomas P. Campbell (see Director of the Metropolitan Museum Resigns) has meant turbulent times for the museum. In February the New York Times asked “Is the Met Museum a great institution in decline?” At the start of summer we also learnt that the arrival in the museum of the Leonard A. Lauder collection of Cubist art, which was promised to the Met in 2013, would be delayed. The reason? Budget limitations have prevented the construction of the museum extension due to house the donation. What will the future bring for New York’s most popular museum?