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A unique oral portrait of the Met, drawing on interviews with everyone from the director to the security guards The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the greatest museums in the world. It is an enormous place that takes up five city blocks and has more than two million square feet of space, filled with treasures everywhere the eye can see. There are exquisite vases, je A unique oral portrait of the Met, drawing on interviews with everyone from the director to the security guards The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the greatest museums in the world. It is an enormous place that takes up five city blocks and has more than two million square feet of space, filled with treasures everywhere the eye can see. There are exquisite vases, jewelry, tapestry, baseball cards, Egyptian mummies, sculptures, and furniture, and many of the most famous and recognized paintings in the world, from Van Gogh to Rembrandt, Monet, and El Greco. But this famous institution, which attracts four million visitors a year, is not just about objects. This is a place that is supported and maintained by people, which is what this wonderful book celebrates. In the fifty-two interviews in Museum, we meet some of the people who have given their lives to making the Met the success that it is. We are introduced to curators with endless knowledge who look after the collections; as well as cleaners; florists; police and security staff who maintain and secure the building; plus the philanthropists and millionaires who donate their money for new and wonderful art works, including well-known people like Henry Kravis and Annette de la Renta. Danziger has a rare touch for getting just the right detail, and these interviews are informative, moving, and compulsively readable. Oral history at its best, Museum will appeal not only to the millions who visit the Met every year, but also to anyone with an interest in museums and art.


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A unique oral portrait of the Met, drawing on interviews with everyone from the director to the security guards The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the greatest museums in the world. It is an enormous place that takes up five city blocks and has more than two million square feet of space, filled with treasures everywhere the eye can see. There are exquisite vases, je A unique oral portrait of the Met, drawing on interviews with everyone from the director to the security guards The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the greatest museums in the world. It is an enormous place that takes up five city blocks and has more than two million square feet of space, filled with treasures everywhere the eye can see. There are exquisite vases, jewelry, tapestry, baseball cards, Egyptian mummies, sculptures, and furniture, and many of the most famous and recognized paintings in the world, from Van Gogh to Rembrandt, Monet, and El Greco. But this famous institution, which attracts four million visitors a year, is not just about objects. This is a place that is supported and maintained by people, which is what this wonderful book celebrates. In the fifty-two interviews in Museum, we meet some of the people who have given their lives to making the Met the success that it is. We are introduced to curators with endless knowledge who look after the collections; as well as cleaners; florists; police and security staff who maintain and secure the building; plus the philanthropists and millionaires who donate their money for new and wonderful art works, including well-known people like Henry Kravis and Annette de la Renta. Danziger has a rare touch for getting just the right detail, and these interviews are informative, moving, and compulsively readable. Oral history at its best, Museum will appeal not only to the millions who visit the Met every year, but also to anyone with an interest in museums and art.

30 review for Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  1. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Stiefvater

    An impeccably edited collection of interviews of people involved with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ranging from servers at the Met's cafe all the way up to the top. Humor, curiosity, and the unabashed appreciation of art permeates the entire volume. Each interview covers 2-5 pages, so it's an easy read between other projects. The interviews are transcribed and so Danziger's voice is nowhere to be found on the pages, but it nonetheless feels as if his wry sense of humor and sense of pacing non An impeccably edited collection of interviews of people involved with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ranging from servers at the Met's cafe all the way up to the top. Humor, curiosity, and the unabashed appreciation of art permeates the entire volume. Each interview covers 2-5 pages, so it's an easy read between other projects. The interviews are transcribed and so Danziger's voice is nowhere to be found on the pages, but it nonetheless feels as if his wry sense of humor and sense of pacing nonetheless makes itself heard. I'll be looking out for other projects with Danziger's deftly curatorial touch.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I recently visited NY for a brief vacation. It was my first time back in the city for almost a decade, but I didn't want to overplan it or run around being a crazy tourist. I wanted to relax, observe the city, and absorb the East Coast perspective. And of course I wanted to wander around the Met. However, even if you are a museum person, the Met can be overwhelming and exhausting, and the crowds can be oppressive. So how do you find a slant, a way of seeing, that translates into a memorable expe I recently visited NY for a brief vacation. It was my first time back in the city for almost a decade, but I didn't want to overplan it or run around being a crazy tourist. I wanted to relax, observe the city, and absorb the East Coast perspective. And of course I wanted to wander around the Met. However, even if you are a museum person, the Met can be overwhelming and exhausting, and the crowds can be oppressive. So how do you find a slant, a way of seeing, that translates into a memorable experience instead of just a flood of impressions? This book did the trick for me. I visited the Met for a few hours on one of my first days, then again for an entire day just before the end of my trip. In between, I read this book and loved it. If you have ever wondered what goes into curating a special exhibit with priceless objects from collections around the world, what work goes into the making of the text descriptions and audio guides, or even where those elaborate flower arrangement in the front entrance hall come from, this book gives you those insights at a personal level. You learn how it all comes together through a series of fascinating character studies of the people who live and work to make the museum the phenomenon that it is. I found myself making notes about individual art objects I wanted to seek out on my visit, bookmarking pages to reread in certain rooms -- yes, I'm such a nerd, I know. But I'm not an art nerd, I'm an experience nerd, if that's a thing. Things I discovered because of this book that I otherwise would not have seen or appreciated nearly as much: -- Art of the Arab Lands: Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia. Curator Michael Barry discusses how his experiences shaped his passion for Islamic art. The galleries were extensively reworked and reopened in 2011 to bring together a collection made up entirely of masterpieces that would each be a highlight in a gallery anywhere else. What an exquisite collection of beautiful and intricate objects. How can you not catch your breath at this? -- The American Wing. One of my favorite parts of this vast wing of the museum were the series of rooms full of paintings and sculpture organized around periods and innovations because the audio guide for this portion of the museum was perfectly prepared for the browser. It offered an overview of each gallery, calling out several paintings or objects in turn, allowing the listener the flexibility to wander a room and find favorite pieces. -- The Cloisters. A lot of people skip the Cloisters because they're a bit out of the way, but the subway journey north strikes me as an appropriate pilgrimage for this place. Go when the flowers are blooming to fully appreciate the medieval gardens. Although there wasn't an interview with one of the gardeners in Danziger's book, I found myself observing one work and imagining what she might say if interviewed about what it is like to tend a garden full of medieval remedies, herbs, and poisons. Even if you live in NY and can go to the Met anytime, pick up this book to get a whole series of new perspectives on all aspects of the museum. I challenge you to read this and not be incredibly impressed, moved, and ready to see.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kylan

    What a disappointing and lazy book! To be fair, the author writes in his introduction that he was in NY visiting friends and thought "I should write a book about people who work at a museum" and then interviewed people who worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then went home and typed up the transcripts and took out his questions (and presumably the "ahs" and "umms.") And that's what he did. That's all. That's it. After this brief introduction there is not ONE WORD of analysis or synthesi What a disappointing and lazy book! To be fair, the author writes in his introduction that he was in NY visiting friends and thought "I should write a book about people who work at a museum" and then interviewed people who worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then went home and typed up the transcripts and took out his questions (and presumably the "ahs" and "umms.") And that's what he did. That's all. That's it. After this brief introduction there is not ONE WORD of analysis or synthesis or other intellectual work contributed by the author. The interview transcripts are spelled right and typed neatly and but seem to be the result of the author going up to employees and saying "I'm interviewing people who work at the Met. Tell me about yourself" and accepting whatever answer the employee decided to give. As a result at least 25% of what these people talk about has VERY LITTLE to do with their jobs. Still that's better than another 25% that has NOTHING whatsoever to do with their job or with the museum. There's a lot of "well, I grew up in Oklahoma" or "I have a wife and two kids at home and they are really my pride and joy" or "gosh, I guess my hobbies are travel and going to the ballet" or "well, before this job I worked for the NY police department for 20 years and boy oh boy THAT was sure something, let me tell you about it ..." One important donor spends half of her interview talking about her family's automobiles. A man who runs the mechanical operations of the building talks about his cocaine habit in his (pre-museum) youth. Someone else spends a lot of time evangelizing about the church he and some friends have started in the Bronx. All of this is fine and they all seem like nice people but none of it has anything to do with why I picked up the book. As for the stuff that IS about the museum, it tends toward the "you know, if I had to choose I'd say my FAVORITE picture/sculpture/ancient Assyrian cuneiform Babylonian tablet is _____" and "well, I was looking for a job and saw an ad in the paper and applied and I guess they like my interview and I got hired." There are bits and pieces of interesting information about the work these people do scattered amongst the pages but they seem to be stray accidents and are few and far between. Certainly not worth even the minimal amount of time it takes to breeze through the 50 or so interview transcripts. Also, I'm not a big "where are the illustrations?" kind of reader, but... where are the illustration? It's a book about an art museum in which many people refer to specific pieces of art. I love museums and I love a good behind the scenes "this is how this organization really does its work" sort of book. This book's claim to that genre is quite disingenuous. Pass this one by.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Visiting The Met was one of my favorite activities while at college in the NYC area, and this book makes me want to go back soon. The book’s concept is simple; the author interviewed people associated with the museum (mostly employees and trustees) and then told their stories in the first-person, each in their own chapter of usually three to five pages. So it’s an easy read that one can do in short spurts. (The only annoyance was the person’s “title” was only included in the table of contents an Visiting The Met was one of my favorite activities while at college in the NYC area, and this book makes me want to go back soon. The book’s concept is simple; the author interviewed people associated with the museum (mostly employees and trustees) and then told their stories in the first-person, each in their own chapter of usually three to five pages. So it’s an easy read that one can do in short spurts. (The only annoyance was the person’s “title” was only included in the table of contents and not in the chapter, so I had to keep flipping back and forth because the person’s role wasn’t always readily apparent.) It was interesting to learn how artwork is selected and exhibits are planned and mounted, and about the day-to-day operations of running the second largest art museum in the world. What was also striking is how devoted all the interviewees are to the museum and its mission. It was nice to read about people who truly love their jobs!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Carolien

    I quite liked this book because the concept was simple - providing short descriptions of the various kinds of people working at the museum. However, because there are no introductions of which job they have at the beginning of each chapter, I had to go back to the index to find that out which was slightly annoying. However, I loved reading all the different interviews and found the very personal way in which the interviewees were presented very interesting and inspiring.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Victoria Schreiber

    A really interesting book that reveals a lot of the behind the scenes people from the Met. I was very positively surprised at how interesting all the interviews were and this book definitely shows how much planning and love goes into a museums work.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Meghan Fletcher

    I really liked that this book went thru so many jobs and really gave a great insight into the minds of the people who make the Met run.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you: http://www.indiebound.org I support independent bookstores. You can use this link to find one near you: http://www.indiebound.org

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    I appreciate the democracy with which Danziger approached this collection of interviews but I don't think more than one janitorial/maintenance crew chapter was needed. Due to the short length of each chapter, one couldn't get into the interesting "behind the scenes" details of some of the more intriguing people that work at the museum, which was highly disappointing. As far as I can tell, Danziger did not give his interviewees any parameters as to what they should discuss and so we are rewarded I appreciate the democracy with which Danziger approached this collection of interviews but I don't think more than one janitorial/maintenance crew chapter was needed. Due to the short length of each chapter, one couldn't get into the interesting "behind the scenes" details of some of the more intriguing people that work at the museum, which was highly disappointing. As far as I can tell, Danziger did not give his interviewees any parameters as to what they should discuss and so we are rewarded with curators of entire wings of the Met talking about summer vacations from their youth and not their expertise. The only positive thing that came from my overarching disappointment with this book has been my renewed interest in reading "Making the Mummies Dance" a memoir by Thomas Hoving, the past Director of the Met. Good Directors can do a lot of things but they all seem to at least be able to spin an exciting tale.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David

    As noted in other reviews (“Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon” and “We Bought a Zoo”), I am a fan of behind-the-scenes books. There’s always more than meets the eye to any experience, and it’s fascinating to discover layers of meaning that enhance an accepted, public, sometimes superficial view. This book adds a human dimension to one of the great cultural centers of the world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It consists of the personal reflections of As noted in other reviews (“Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon” and “We Bought a Zoo”), I am a fan of behind-the-scenes books. There’s always more than meets the eye to any experience, and it’s fascinating to discover layers of meaning that enhance an accepted, public, sometimes superficial view. This book adds a human dimension to one of the great cultural centers of the world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It consists of the personal reflections of a wide variety of staff members who tell their stories of involvement with the museum. What’s most impressive is the scope of the jobs represented: the Director and various curators are obvious subjects, but this book includes stories from a security guard, a cleaner, and a florist, as well as trustees, a waitress, a plumber, and many more. The stories are arranged alphabetically by name, which underscores the fact that when it comes to stories of human experience, no one’s is more important than anyone else’s. From the perspective of art appreciation, the curators’ stories are very interesting and informative. (How wonderful, also, to go to the museum’s website to view and learn more about specific items mentioned.) Their passion for their collections shines through. But the museum really comes to life in the stories of those not directly associated with the art works. The various support staff are insightful in a different way, and make it clear that the museum is more than a building filled with art – it’s a community. Without exception, all the employees are proud to work there and clearly understand how their efforts support the mission of the museum and enhance the visitors’ experience. It’s a testament to the leadership there that everyone, no matter their role, speaks so highly of working there. Visiting a museum, one obviously is focused on the collections. This book is a reminder that any human endeavor involves a wide variety of talent and skills. It not only presents a full picture of the inner workings of a great museum; it also dignifies the contributions of every staff member who brings his or her passion and commitment to create meaningful work in support of a vision.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Amedeo

    Though I have actually visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art more than a thousand times, my original fascination for the place has never worn off. Not talking about the artworks here but the whole institution from stem to stern. The good thing about this book is that one hears from people on many levels and in a variety of capacities that contribute to the whole operation. For the outsider, there is much insight into the concerns and responsibilities of museum employess. Even if one is a curat Though I have actually visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art more than a thousand times, my original fascination for the place has never worn off. Not talking about the artworks here but the whole institution from stem to stern. The good thing about this book is that one hears from people on many levels and in a variety of capacities that contribute to the whole operation. For the outsider, there is much insight into the concerns and responsibilities of museum employess. Even if one is a curator and thinks he has a good idea of what a trustee does, he probably hasn't thought much about what life is like for the woman in charge of the shop or the guy who handles museum security. It's interesting to hear from curators on which objects they most treasure in their departments. The problem is that this book tends to make the Met seem like a big happy family where most people are thinking about the ideal and not thier egos. Those of us who have been going there all thier lives may hold some of this illusion and yet we also know this place is part of the real world as well. This book has enriched my museum-going experience but I would reccomend that anyone reading it should also read the account of the previous director, Thomas Hoving. "Making the Mummies Dance" which provides a view of the competitiveness, envy and frustration which is part of life at this hallowed institution,

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katherine

    This book is an account of how the Metropolitan Museum operates, told in individual, first person accounts by people who work there. I love the concept of the book - looking behind the scenes at the Museum through the eyes of the people who run it seemed to me an entirely appealing - and fascinating - exercise. But the book has some flaws. First and foremost, the format doesn't make a lot of sense. Essentially, the author interviewed all these people, and then took out his questions so that the This book is an account of how the Metropolitan Museum operates, told in individual, first person accounts by people who work there. I love the concept of the book - looking behind the scenes at the Museum through the eyes of the people who run it seemed to me an entirely appealing - and fascinating - exercise. But the book has some flaws. First and foremost, the format doesn't make a lot of sense. Essentially, the author interviewed all these people, and then took out his questions so that the interviews read as first person narratives. This leaves a lot of story telling undone - the kinds of details and insights one might expect in this sort of book are left out. The narratives are also a bit aimless. They often wander far into the personal, leaving the Museum behind, which can be interesting, but also at times feels as though the author just asked unusual questions. Finally, and most minorly, each person's position is only listed in the Table of Contents, not with their statements, so I found myself flipping back to the front every couple of pages. All that said, some of the stories here are intriguing - the florist and police officer are just as interesting as the big name trustees and the famed diector. But the book feels as though it's an early draft, with which much more could have been done.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sesana

    I debated over the rating to give this book. On one hand, I ended up really liking it. On the other, it also turned out to not exactly be what's on the tin. I went in expecting precisely what the subtitle promise: a behind the scenes look at the Met. And I got that, sort of. Actually, the book is based off a series of interviews with people who work at or for the museum. And they do talk about their jobs, or many of them do. Some of them veer so far off into the personal that they don't approach I debated over the rating to give this book. On one hand, I ended up really liking it. On the other, it also turned out to not exactly be what's on the tin. I went in expecting precisely what the subtitle promise: a behind the scenes look at the Met. And I got that, sort of. Actually, the book is based off a series of interviews with people who work at or for the museum. And they do talk about their jobs, or many of them do. Some of them veer so far off into the personal that they don't approach the work at all. And some of them focus more on, essentially, art history, instead of the Met in particular. The ones that do give the actual behind the scenes stuff I was looking for do deliver quite a bit of good information. That said, the interviews were very good, and very interesting. What you end up with, more than anything else, is just how much these people love the Met. The breadth of interviewees is also interesting. I don't know that I would have thought to interview the Met's plumber. I wouldn't have thought that the Met even has its own plumbing staff! There's a security guard, someone who works the information desk, a janitor, even someone who comes in to copy the paintings. So, it wasn't exactly what was promised, but it was a good read anyways. And it left me wanting to visit NYC, so it must have done a pretty good job there.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ursula

    It's a safe bet that most people drawn to this book are fans of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. I love the Met and was curious to learn more about it. As other reviewers have mentioned, this book is not about the Met per se; it instead focuses on the people who work there. Even still, the book has tons of potential. Unfortunately many of the chapters fall flat; far too many of the chapters end with something along the lines of "I still can't believe I get paid to work at the Met." I imagine It's a safe bet that most people drawn to this book are fans of the Metropolitan Museum in New York. I love the Met and was curious to learn more about it. As other reviewers have mentioned, this book is not about the Met per se; it instead focuses on the people who work there. Even still, the book has tons of potential. Unfortunately many of the chapters fall flat; far too many of the chapters end with something along the lines of "I still can't believe I get paid to work at the Met." I imagine working at the Met would be among the most rewarding jobs an artistically-inclined person could have, but after the first time, it becomes a stale conclusion. Furthermore, there is no visual art in this book, which is ironic, of course, because nearly every single person interviewed references a painting, a sculpture, or photograph that might be unfamiliar to the reader. I found myself on Google searching for the pieces mentioned by the curators. All in all, the book is not terrible. Danziger does educate the reader on how the collections came to be formed, the range of arts found at the museum, the mechanics of how exhibitions come to fruition, and other interesting bits of history. Parts of this book were truly enriching and the more I learned about specific jobs at the museums, the more I dreamt about someday becoming part of such an iconic institution.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Christia

    Reading this made me want to go back to the Met - immediately. I've only been once, and that was for a brief afternoon, during which time I went on a search for William, the blue hippo. I remember being impressed at how much information the (presumed) security guard gave me about the little figurine - and being amazed at the size of the museum. This is not so much a history of the museum as it is a series of interviews with some of the hundreds of people who work there (from curators and directo Reading this made me want to go back to the Met - immediately. I've only been once, and that was for a brief afternoon, during which time I went on a search for William, the blue hippo. I remember being impressed at how much information the (presumed) security guard gave me about the little figurine - and being amazed at the size of the museum. This is not so much a history of the museum as it is a series of interviews with some of the hundreds of people who work there (from curators and directors to trustess, employees in the cafeteria and custodial staff, the florists and the manager of the gift shops) and a glimpse of the museum from their individual perspectives. Some of the interviews address the museum while some are more about the individuals being interviewed. Really, really interesting if you are at all interested in art and /or art museums. The number of items in the collection and the sheer immensity of the operations (not to mention the fact that everything runs so smoothly) are really impressive. And of course there are a few art history lessons sprinkled throughout the book. I really enjoyed this book and have a new, deeper appreciation for the museum and the people behind the scenes.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Meyer

    This book a series of interviews with indiividuals associated with the Met, and I expected to like it more than I did. The interviews are essentially monologs, with little or no editorial or background content other that what the interviewees provide. They are not introduced at the beginning of each chapter so takes awhile to adjust to a short lag time where you don't know if you're reading about an electrician or a trustee. Still, I appreciated the mix - a waitress, plumber, curators, donors, d This book a series of interviews with indiividuals associated with the Met, and I expected to like it more than I did. The interviews are essentially monologs, with little or no editorial or background content other that what the interviewees provide. They are not introduced at the beginning of each chapter so takes awhile to adjust to a short lag time where you don't know if you're reading about an electrician or a trustee. Still, I appreciated the mix - a waitress, plumber, curators, donors, director and trustees. The author is successful in providing a broad overview of what it takes to run a behemoth of a museum like the Met. What disappointed me was the lack of depth in terms of what each each of these people actually DO every day, as well the lack of photographs to accompany each story. If a tidbit about a painting or sculpture or the building's architecture intrigues you, you'll have to google it. No doubt this was an editorial decision made to keep the price of the book down, but I for one would have been willing to pay more for a "Day in the Life of..." story line with photos. But I'm glad Danziger wrote the book and I'd recommend it to anyone curious about the Met or any of the world's great museums.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    On one hand, this is a book I wish I had written. The author interviewed a range of people who work at the Met and compiled the results into a book. I love museums and I love oral histories, so really, what could be better. Unfortunately, he didn't do a very interesting job with it. There is no analysis, and he totally removes himself from the interviews. He emphasizes how passionate and enthusiastic everyone is, which gets annoying and meaningless pretty quickly. Aside from one interview with a On one hand, this is a book I wish I had written. The author interviewed a range of people who work at the Met and compiled the results into a book. I love museums and I love oral histories, so really, what could be better. Unfortunately, he didn't do a very interesting job with it. There is no analysis, and he totally removes himself from the interviews. He emphasizes how passionate and enthusiastic everyone is, which gets annoying and meaningless pretty quickly. Aside from one interview with a janitor, everyone he talks to is pretty high up, which is okay but less interesting to me than if he had a wider spread. Ovearll, the book is okay but doesn't live up to its potential. I did enjoy a few of the chapters very much, like the firefighter and the guy who's in charge of shipping and packaging and the guy who's the greeter. Also, the fundraiser and development guy was really cool - he says you should donate your art to the Met because that way "more eyeballs will be blessed" than if you give the art to any other place.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    As an art history major in college in New York, who spend quite a bit of my time at the MET the book was bittersweet as I loved reading about the details of the museums operations, but it also made me sad that I had never been successful in that field of scholarship. The book also shines a bit of light on the fact that without a pedigree it is really almost impossible to get into the MET and most of these curators grew up with their parents Picasso's and Giotto's as part of the collections decor As an art history major in college in New York, who spend quite a bit of my time at the MET the book was bittersweet as I loved reading about the details of the museums operations, but it also made me sad that I had never been successful in that field of scholarship. The book also shines a bit of light on the fact that without a pedigree it is really almost impossible to get into the MET and most of these curators grew up with their parents Picasso's and Giotto's as part of the collections decorating their homes. This is book that really does something like no other. Danziger interviewed hundreds of MET employees from the director to the plumbers on staff. From the board members to the security men. They interviewed people in positions that I did not even think about in length before. The greatest accomplishment of this book is how Danzinger makes the interview subjects personalities shine through, the manner in which the information is transcribed is flowing and very conversational. Suprisingly emotionally affecting.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kyla

    I read this quick-hurry-fast, my equivalent of a thriller I guess - just what do those curators do all day anyway? And though the subject was interesting and he interviewed a wide range of people - from trustees to security to the flower arranger - the way he presented it was so odd. A series of interviews, one after another. The person's title was only reflected in the front table of contents so you had to keep flipping back and forth. And in an interview, the people would give a very concise v I read this quick-hurry-fast, my equivalent of a thriller I guess - just what do those curators do all day anyway? And though the subject was interesting and he interviewed a wide range of people - from trustees to security to the flower arranger - the way he presented it was so odd. A series of interviews, one after another. The person's title was only reflected in the front table of contents so you had to keep flipping back and forth. And in an interview, the people would give a very concise version of how they came to their job, what they liked about it and - the end. Perhaps it would have been more work to craft this into some kind of narrative - what is a typical day like in the museum behind the scenes? - instead of a string of interviews, but I bet I would have appreciated it more. Still, it made me kinda burn to work there too. Like I didn't already.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Erica

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book -- it is result of a series of interviews conducted by the author of staff members at the Met. It is a fascinating glimpse (emphasis on glimpse) into the inner workings of this singular institution. However, this book was written with the blessing of the Museum and no doubt there was content/editorial control taking place behind the scenes. Those wanting less of a series of love letters and more of an in-depth and critical look at the institution will have to look I thoroughly enjoyed this book -- it is result of a series of interviews conducted by the author of staff members at the Met. It is a fascinating glimpse (emphasis on glimpse) into the inner workings of this singular institution. However, this book was written with the blessing of the Museum and no doubt there was content/editorial control taking place behind the scenes. Those wanting less of a series of love letters and more of an in-depth and critical look at the institution will have to look elsewhere -- up next for me Rogues' Gallery: The Secret Story of the Lust, Lies, Greed, and Betrayals That Made the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    This book is choppy as a result of Danny Danziger's format which was simplistic; he interviewed various staff members, let them talk about whatever they wanted, and used each as a chapter in the book. There are great interviews, for which I said, "Wow!", and then there were complete duds. Danziger never really introduced the individuals so it often took a while to figure out what role the individual played. The individuals did not appear to be organized in any way so the interviews do not flow i This book is choppy as a result of Danny Danziger's format which was simplistic; he interviewed various staff members, let them talk about whatever they wanted, and used each as a chapter in the book. There are great interviews, for which I said, "Wow!", and then there were complete duds. Danziger never really introduced the individuals so it often took a while to figure out what role the individual played. The individuals did not appear to be organized in any way so the interviews do not flow instead the reader bounces around from janitor to Board of Director. Likewise the subjects bounce around from their home lives, ancestry, art of selling, to curatorial subjects... It made a frustrating read because of Danziger's failures however many parts were excellent because of the individuals' own story telling abilities.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I purchased this book not long after my trip to NYC two years ago, which included a too-brief visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I got partway through it before becoming distracted and setting it aside, as so often happens to me when reading nonfiction -- even really good nonfiction. Interesting behind-the-scenes look at a wonderful institution. I thought I'd add that the structure of this book -- interviews with many individuals -- makes it feel rather disjointed and less interesting, perh I purchased this book not long after my trip to NYC two years ago, which included a too-brief visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I got partway through it before becoming distracted and setting it aside, as so often happens to me when reading nonfiction -- even really good nonfiction. Interesting behind-the-scenes look at a wonderful institution. I thought I'd add that the structure of this book -- interviews with many individuals -- makes it feel rather disjointed and less interesting, perhaps, than a cohesive narrative. But the book was published in 2007, the same year I purchased it, and I liked the notion that these are the people who are working at the museum now. (Though I believe that the museum director retired last year.)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aubrey

    An interview with a variety of workers at the Met; getting to hear about peoples passions; learning what goes into making such an amazing place function - I learned a lot from this book. The interviews I remember most vividly are the the ones with the curators who discussed the Tiffany collection, one of the sculpture collections, the woman in charge of retail, someone on the board, and the police officer in charge of security. What surprised me the most was the different backgrounds these people An interview with a variety of workers at the Met; getting to hear about peoples passions; learning what goes into making such an amazing place function - I learned a lot from this book. The interviews I remember most vividly are the the ones with the curators who discussed the Tiffany collection, one of the sculpture collections, the woman in charge of retail, someone on the board, and the police officer in charge of security. What surprised me the most was the different backgrounds these people had and what eventually brought them to the Met. Charmingly, they all seem to absolutely adore the place. This was a fabulous idea for a book! I'm glad I happened upon it!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    An interesting look at the Met, as told to the author in chapters by various ppl associated with the Museum. Some of the most interesting ones are the curators, who talk alot about thier passion for a particular type of art that may seem strange to us, the average museum goer (I like looking at the weapons and armor too, but your telling me thats your whole life?). The other ppl who are really fascinating are the ultra rich donors and collectors, who discuss their gifts and collections in ways t An interesting look at the Met, as told to the author in chapters by various ppl associated with the Museum. Some of the most interesting ones are the curators, who talk alot about thier passion for a particular type of art that may seem strange to us, the average museum goer (I like looking at the weapons and armor too, but your telling me thats your whole life?). The other ppl who are really fascinating are the ultra rich donors and collectors, who discuss their gifts and collections in ways that are simply staggering to the average middle class citizen. Not the greatest book ever, but a fun easy read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Contrary Magazine

    Read Laura M. Browning's Contrary review: [http://www.contrarymagazine.com/Contr...] "Even before page one, it’s clear that Danny Danziger knows museums: Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is dedicated to his mother, Gigi Guggenheim Danziger. One might expect that such a pedigree would lead Danziger to pen a reverent ode to one of the world’s great museums. And in a sense, he does—but his reverence is directed toward people as much as objets d’art, and the result is equal Read Laura M. Browning's Contrary review: [http://www.contrarymagazine.com/Contr...] "Even before page one, it’s clear that Danny Danziger knows museums: Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is dedicated to his mother, Gigi Guggenheim Danziger. One might expect that such a pedigree would lead Danziger to pen a reverent ode to one of the world’s great museums. And in a sense, he does—but his reverence is directed toward people as much as objets d’art, and the result is equal parts charm and art history."

  26. 4 out of 5

    JulieK

    Really enjoyed this. I was expecting more of a narrative, but it turned out to be excerpts from interviews with 50+ Met staff members, including curators, cleaners, trustees, and security guards. Reading their own words about what it's like to work there was really interesting. At first I was a little disappointed that the interviews were heavily weighted toward curators, but I ended up feeling it was a good thing, as reading their musings about the collections under their care was a good way to Really enjoyed this. I was expecting more of a narrative, but it turned out to be excerpts from interviews with 50+ Met staff members, including curators, cleaners, trustees, and security guards. Reading their own words about what it's like to work there was really interesting. At first I was a little disappointed that the interviews were heavily weighted toward curators, but I ended up feeling it was a good thing, as reading their musings about the collections under their care was a good way to find out more about the Met's varied holdings and the significance of pieces you never hear about.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ryn

    Wonderful story-telling by dozens of the very special folks who make the Met what it is. Two particularly nice touches: folks are arranged in the book alphabetically by last name-- not by any hierarchy. And each person's title is only listed in the table of contents. So, the interviews themselves are more like a series of piano etudes than a catalog of professional bios. Personal, human, lovely views of a world-leading organization. Might make sense to do this for other mission-driven organizatio Wonderful story-telling by dozens of the very special folks who make the Met what it is. Two particularly nice touches: folks are arranged in the book alphabetically by last name-- not by any hierarchy. And each person's title is only listed in the table of contents. So, the interviews themselves are more like a series of piano etudes than a catalog of professional bios. Personal, human, lovely views of a world-leading organization. Might make sense to do this for other mission-driven organizations?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Raganeauchic

    This is a great book and enjoyed every individual story from the florist to the trustee who donated $25 million. The author gives the name and title of each person in the table of contents at the front, but then at each chapter, only lists their name. You have to keep flipping back to the front of the book to remember what exactly they do for the Met. He could have removed the silly quote/excerpt under their name at each chapter and put their title. I'm not so interested in the author's opinion This is a great book and enjoyed every individual story from the florist to the trustee who donated $25 million. The author gives the name and title of each person in the table of contents at the front, but then at each chapter, only lists their name. You have to keep flipping back to the front of the book to remember what exactly they do for the Met. He could have removed the silly quote/excerpt under their name at each chapter and put their title. I'm not so interested in the author's opinion of the person.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This is a totally easy, insightful read. Made up of a series of interviews with various people at the museum, it really makes you want to visit again and again. The passion of all the employees, from the security to the janitors to the president and curators, is inspiring. If I had any qualm with it, it's just that it would have been interesting to hear a bit more about art politics and how it plays a role in how the museum is run; that the inner workings would be described in a more complex way This is a totally easy, insightful read. Made up of a series of interviews with various people at the museum, it really makes you want to visit again and again. The passion of all the employees, from the security to the janitors to the president and curators, is inspiring. If I had any qualm with it, it's just that it would have been interesting to hear a bit more about art politics and how it plays a role in how the museum is run; that the inner workings would be described in a more complex way. However, what IS included is totally absorbing, fun, and personal.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Heila

    Interviews of people who work for the Met. From the boardroom to the bathroom. Includes the Head of Construction, Curators, Trustees and my favorite the Maintainer of the Plumbing Shop. Some people get really, really into talking about their "area," like Arms & Armor - which is understandable, but if it wasn't my interest I skimmed through those faster. It's cool to experience the people's personalities and how that meshes with the art and their experience of working there in all these different Interviews of people who work for the Met. From the boardroom to the bathroom. Includes the Head of Construction, Curators, Trustees and my favorite the Maintainer of the Plumbing Shop. Some people get really, really into talking about their "area," like Arms & Armor - which is understandable, but if it wasn't my interest I skimmed through those faster. It's cool to experience the people's personalities and how that meshes with the art and their experience of working there in all these different capacities.

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