Making the Mummies Dance: Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Making the Mummies Dance: Inside the Metropolitan Museum of ArtNo Museum In The World Is Like The Metropolitan Museum Of Art And No Man Has Ever Run It, Or Revolutionized It, Quite Like Thomas Hoving In A Decade, Hoving Changed Almost Everything People Had Grown Accustomed To From The Met, Shaking The Institution Out Of Royal Repose And Transforming It Into The Most Vital Cultural Presence In The Country Now, The Irrepressible Former Director Delivers A Fearless Account Of His Life At The Pinnacle Of The Art World A Modern Vanity Fair, A True Story Of Masterpieces And Money, Society And Scandal, Intrigue And International Theft The Met Is Than A Dazzling Art Showplace The Museum Is A Vibrant If Quietly Influential Community, Inhabited And Run By Singular Sorts Of People Trustees And Curators, Connoisseurs And Conservators It Is Steeped In History And Tradition And Seems To Move In A Serene And Elegant World Of Impeccable Manners And The Finest Taste Behind The Proper Social Veneers And Pristine Marble Galleries, Hoving Reveals The Cutthroat Precincts Where The Real Business Of The Met Is Carried Out From Seducing Important Patrons Like Robert Lehman, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Annenberg, And Brooke Astor To Spiriting Ancient Treasures Across International Borders From Striking Secret Agreements With The World S Most Powerful Dealers To Sidestepping Rivals From Securing Blockbuster Exhibitions, Like Tut And The Glory Of Russian Costume, To Seizing The Most Phenomenal Velazquez Portrait, Hoving Shares Not Only The Nimbleness And Brashness That Made Him So Effective, But Also The Zeal And Passion That Made The Met So Exciting Making The Mummies Dance Is Told In The Head On, Even Naughty, Way That Is Trademark Hoving This Is An Important, Shocking Museum Story And An Unforgettable Tale Of Power Struggles And One Upmanship, Fame, Big Money, And, Of Course, Great Art

Thomas Pearsall Field Hoving was an American museum executive and consultant, best known for serving as the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art His books primarily focus on art related subjects, including art forgeries, Grant Wood, Andrew Wyeth, Tutankhamen, and the 12th century walrus ivory crucifix known as the Bury St Edmunds Cross His memoir, Making the Mummies Dance, details his

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  • Paperback
  • 448 pages
  • Making the Mummies Dance: Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Thomas Hoving
  • English
  • 24 August 2019
  • 9780671880750

10 thoughts on “Making the Mummies Dance: Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art

  1. says:

    That was a craaaazy read most of the time I did not even believe I was reading non fiction Wow, insane.

  2. says:

    Mr Hoving turned the Metropolitan Museum of Art from a staid collection of paintings and sculpture into a vibrant collection of all that art can and should be, for anyone to come in and enjoy That is opinion, but one generally held by most historians who studied the evolution of Manhattan s jewel during the late 60 s until the late 70 s I m withholding any other opinion, save that it is a shame Mr Hoving took the time to be a cheap greasy, sleazeball of a weasel to each and every person he felt slighted him in nearly any way during those years, and even worse, to print this book when so many of these people are dead and cannot defend themselves from his bitchy commentary That is my OWN opinion, garnered after reading a book I honestly had looked forward to reading for years.

  3. says:

    It might be a mistake to come into writing this 60 seconds after putting the book down, but this book sure was a ride For me with my smattering of readings on museum work and cultural heritage provenance, this was an enlightening, fascinating, often appalling look at how the Met was run for a decade in the middle of the last century For anyone, however, it would be a rollercoaster of a narrative It s a memoir of a director of the Met, in many ways, but also serves as a tell all as well as an educational tool for those wanting to dip their feet into museum doings and etc.I highly recommend this book, this is one of those ones that I m bummed I checked out from the library rather than purchased for myself.

  4. says:

    When I was a wide eyed sixteen year old aspiring artist I saw in Time Magazine that a painting, Diego Velazquez s 1650 masterpiece Juan de Pareja, was bought for 5.4 million dollars It was the highest price that had ever been paid for a painting at auction up until that time The painting had a profound effect on me and influenced the course of my artistic enquiry for a long time afterward Several years later, as an art student I waited in line for, literally, hours at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the breath taking blockbuster exhibition The Treasures of Tutankhamun The man responsible for both these momentous events in my artistic consciousness was the indomitable and controversial director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Thomas Hoving.Making the Mummies Dance is his extraordinary 1994 record of his tenure as director of the premiere art institution of New York city Now, you could be forgiven for thinking, Right a book about a museum director what could be of a sleeper but Hoving was not your average museum administrator He initiated and oversaw the largest revamp of arguably the most influential museum in the United States His impact is still felt today almost forty years later If we didn t have this as proof of the effect he had on the culture of museums it would be easy to dismiss much of what he writes as colourful bombast and exaggeration In this book he jumps off the page, full of energy and ideas, bumping and scraping with almost everyone he meets His driving, irreverent style reflects his approach to his directorship making as many enemies as splendid art acquisitions along the way He strategizes, schemes and talks his way around almost everyone from the NY uber rich to shady art dealers in foreign dark alleys He doesn t mince words or assessments of individuals like Senator Robert Kennedy, he had been cold and nasty with me , to patrons like Nelson Rockefeller, or rivals like J Carter Brown, the director of the National Gallery in Washington D.C He unabashedly quotes people like his political patron, Mayor John Lindsey, Get some of those old rich farts to put up the dough Likewise, he is generous with praise for those he respects and admires like eminent art scholar John Pope Hennessy, as a professional I had always found him matchless or Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, I have never met anyone who carried the burden of celebrity so graciously As a former provincial museum educator I found the Byzantine workings of Hoving and the museum, from jet setting around the world, wrestling with Soviet bureaucracy to advising the empress of Iran thoroughly engaging Yet, at the heart of all the power wrangling machinations is Hoving s driving passion for art If not for his ambition the Egyptian Temple of Dendur and the stunning north wing of the museum that houses it, the magnificent Greek Euphronios krater of 510 B.C nor the ground breaking photographic exhibition, Harlem on My Mind, would have never seen the light of day As he wrote, I have fallen in love often with works of art than with women We, the public, get to be the beneficiaries of that love and this book is a raucous, rollicking documentation of that romance.

  5. says:

    The Metropolitan Art Museum is one of my favorite places to visit To sip tea in the American Wing, overlooking Central Park, is lovely To see the Tiffany glass works and the large Rodin statue in that wing is one of my favorite things to do And, during the holidays to visit the incredible Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Cr che is a sheer joy The American Wing contains the Winslow Homer painting titled Gulf Stream, and I love to absorb every detail of this stunning work So, then, what s not to like about the museum, except, the previous director In his book, page after page is filled with me, me, me, me, me, me, me Hailing from a small town, of course, I have no reference of cultivating millionaires, or knowing just the right thing to say at the right time, I imagine that directing such a prestigious museum, fund raising, and navigating through a pinkies in the air board of directors has many challenges.Still, I could not enjoy the book because of the many references to his accomplishments, his hobnobbing, his snobbery, and thus, the continual name dropping made finishing the book a sheer agonizing accomplishment.I enjoyed reading Museum Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Danny Danziger It was a joy to learn about the Met through his wonderful interviews of employees That was a five star book doesn t light up at all.Hoving was impressed and obsessed with himself and all the glamorous people he touched rather than explaining the every day workings of the Met.He may have made the mummies dance, but I m very sure that after one round, they were happy to go back into their sarcophagus.NOT RECOMMENDED

  6. says:

    OY I read over 400 pages of a memoir written by someone who I really do not like Thomas Hoving, while clearly talented and charismatic, comes across as a pompous ass, careless of others feelings, hyper focused on his own image and too ready to give himself credit for all things good that happen during his tenure at The Met To be fair, he s also unafraid to point out some of his less vaunted moments, but on the balance, he fancies himself a master of the universe and it becomes tiresomeoh so tiresome chapter after chapter I thought the writing was certainly punchy, and he is dishy, going for the jugular in a forthright manner, but the writing was also sloppy and disorganized and that was hard for me to deal with after about page 250 On the upside, the intimate peek into the workings of the Met was absolutely fascinating Being a docent there may have made me particularly susceptible to the revelations about donors, trustees and acquisitions, but for anyone interested in the high stakes world of fine art, multi millionaires and their enormous egos and tantrums, the sketchy nature of some museum operations and the never ending race to be the best in New York City no matter what business you re in then this book certainly provides some entertainments, but one hundred less pages would have been welcomed by me.

  7. says:

    Really entertaining stuff at first, but completely lost steam at the end Although that s been true of almost all books for me recently, so maybe it s a me thing.Hoving gives almost scary insight into the politics and shenanigans behind running a major museum Sometimes I found it shocking how much he was willing to reveal he comments blithely on his sleazy paris doings even while in the next page talking about the wisdom of his wife He spares no unflattering detail about his colleagues, even those he terms great friends And of course it s a product of his Mad Men esque time he couldn t name a single female colleague without first labeling her degree of attractiveness, which caused me some excessive eye rolling.Hoving is also unbearably full of himself, a statement that I m sure he himself would agree with I m sure he did a lot for the Met, but to hear him tell it the museum was a dusty old dinosaur when he arrived and changed enough to coast for decades on the force of his changes when he left Maybe he s right, who knows I envy him his sense of self I really loved the descriptions of his temper tantrums, Ive decided I need to cultivate a good adult temper tantrum tactic.Really made me want to visit the met again and take a peek at all these works of art.

  8. says:

    How can the direction of a museum of antiquities be interesting Dealing with old items from people most often no longer living for many years is exciting Turns out, yes Maybe the fact that the Indiana Jones movie came out a few years earlier inspired me It did show the world that at least in a film that collecting antiques could be an adventure This book is not an action adventure but if you enjoy a bit of sleuthing in the hunt for truth in origin and history, this is a good book Hoving not only shows how experts have to evaluation the important of history of an item, he shows the seedy side of how people throughout history have tried and often succeeded in tricking others in the value of an artistic piece But is not artistic importance and beauty in the eye of the beholder Well, yes But one wants to know that they are getting the real goods and not a knock off This is especially true in the world of high price tags for museums and serious collectors Feel in love with Hoving and his storytelling with this book.

  9. says:

    Woo Never a dull moment No spade not called a spade, no opinion unexpressed One thing I will certainly say for Thomas Hoving, though, is that he isn t any afraid to discuss his own foibles and shortcomings and outright failures than he is everyone else s That s part of what makes his writing appealing When his own horn deserves tooting, it certainly gets tooted and, again, he is fair others horns toot all over the place as well , but he doesn t ignore his errors I m still stunned by the sheer underhandedness that went into the acquisition of many, if not most, of the works in the museum, and the strata of hatred and enmity and cronyism throughout the art and antiquities community Maybe it s just as well I never went that route it was a passing dream I would have been eaten alive I was attracted by the title, which is brilliant it was Hoving s intent when he became Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art And he did.

  10. says:

    Reading about the wheelings and dealings, travel, lifestyle, wardrobe, holidays, ego of the director of the Met is like reading about a parallel dimension if that dimension is on a planet far, far awaycompletely unrelatable What makes this book worth reading is the art.Fabulous I kept the Met s online search page open and looked up almost all the pieces described so well by the author I see now that I must go back to the museum and visit them in person I missed so much on my earlier trips

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