The Metropolitan Museum of Art, which stands grandly in the center of New York since 1870, is considered to be the second largest in the world. Following only the Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum, or Met, houses the richest and the most rare treasures from all parts of the world, from all eras of human history. The employees that number to 2,000 keep this vast space of art and history alive. One can indeed feel the pulse of history in this museum, as it showcases more than two million artworks and pieces, all kept in a elaborately-built structure. From paintings to vases to jewelry, all of the glories of human ingenuity can be found in this museum.
The book Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art offers a glimpse into this national treasure, as author Danziger interviews more than 50 of the museum’s employees. The people interviewed ranged from managers to curators to security staff, each of whom has their own contribution in maintaining and ensuring that the Metropolitan Museum is in excellent order. They are the ones who take care of the cleanliness, the order of the place, the food, the security, and all aspects of operations that make the museum the success that it is now.
The author takes the reader through the museum in a very personal and warm manner. It tells the story of people who in a daily basis roams the halls of this building, and makes them more personal and compassionate. From stories of waitress and curators, to maintenance staff and security personnel, the story weaves into a picture of a place that is filled not only with history but also with passion from the people who work in it. Like the stories of how some pieces were acquired, or how some of the staff worked in the museum, the author reminds the reader that there is a story behind every piece of treasure and a motivation behind each person. A museum is not merely a block of buildings, but a living and breathing structure with fascinating, interesting stories and histories to tell.
There are also lessons to be learned and reflections that were raised by author Danziger. For instance, that merit would always be above all other considerations, as this was a factor in the success of the Met. Also, a sense of collectiveness among the staff coupled with strong leadership is important factors in running any organization, not just a museum. The workers come from different background, race, and classes, and there is the message that everyone is important, regardless of their position, as each contributes to the collective success of the museum.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is truly something that would awe and inspire, as it is in itself a piece of history and treasure. It keeps in its halls and corridors the greatest work that humans have produced in world history. Its sheer size that stretches to almost quarter of a mile would overwhelm anyone, as with the number of treasure that can be found inside it. From classical antiquity to photographs and musical instruments, the museum showcases the best produced by the world cultures. It has grown enormously from its beginning in the mid-1800s, and continues to collect and grow. What make this place more noteworthy are the people who work and toils to ensure that the world continues to enjoy the museum. Their efficiency and ingenuity should be given credit, as it is their collective effort that sustains this national monument. The book therefore is something that can be easily enjoyed, for its offers the reader an interesting and inspiring peek into one of the best museums in the world.
Danziger, Danny. (2007). Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. United States: Viking Adult.