Metropolitan Museum of Art Names Daniel Weiss President as Emily Rafferty Steps Down

A Newark boy makes (very) good

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Art historian, academic and Haverford College president Daniel H. Weiss, who boasts a PhD, a Yale MBA and a birthplace of Newark, NJ, was today named the next President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

He succeeds the well-regarded, elegant Emily Rafferty, who will retire from the Met at month’s end after 10 years in the post, and nearly 40 at the institution.

The new president’s hiring continues the top management change-of-the-guard that has followed Philippe de Montebello’s retirement from the institution in 2008 after about 30 years; the institution’s public affairs czar Harold Holzer earlier this year announced his plans to retire after more than two decades. There have been several other departures of long-standing Met insiders.

Mr. Weiss, 57, who was formally elected to the Museum presidency at today’s meeting of the Board of Trustees, was chosen—despite no museum-management experience—after an extensive national search. He will assume his new post at the Met this summer. At Haverford since 2013, he becomes the president with the shortest tenure in the school’s history.

In a statement, Museum Chairman Daniel Brodsky praised “Dan’s proven record in managing areas essential to making large institutions run smoothly—including his especially strong commitment to staff development and academic excellence.”

According to the Met’s statement, his credentials include running, at the very start of his career, the museum shops at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, later working at Booz, Allen & Hamilton and rising rapidly through the ranks of professorship at Johns Hopkins, eventually becoming dean of its School of Arts and Sciences. He then served as president of Lafayette College for eight years.

“We are delighted to welcome Dan Weiss as the Met’s new President,” said Director Tom Campbell. “Dan’s experience is a rare combination of academic accomplishment in art history and vast management experience in a variety of complex institutions.  He will be an ideal partner to help us achieve our ambitious goals for the Met over the next decade.”

Commented Dr. Weiss: “I look forward to working closely with Tom Campbell and my new colleagues as we implement the new strategic plan, open the Breuer building, and develop exciting new programs in the years ahead.”

Traditionally, a museum presidency has a significant element of fund-raising to it, but that went largely unmentioned and, indeed, the job may be re-conceptualized.

The Met noted: “As President, he will have direct leadership responsibility for all day-to-day operations of the institution, and will oversee 1,500 employees in all areas of museum administration: facilities and construction, development and membership, finance and investments, information technology, legal affairs, visitor services, human resources, marketing and external relations, merchandising (the Met shops), and government relations.  The Museum currently has more than 2,200 full- and part-time employees overall, an operating budget of more than $300 million, and an endowment of approximately $3 billion.  Last year, the Museum attracted 6.2 million visitors to its main building and The Cloisters, and more than 40 million visits to its website.”

Mr. Weiss was born in Newark, and raised on Long Island. He earned his B.A. at George Washington University in 1979; his M.A. in Medieval and Modern Art from Johns Hopkins University; his M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management in 1985; and in 1992 his Ph.D. from Hopkins.

As an art historian, his areas of specialty appear to be medieval art, the crusades and the Byzantine Age.