A fascinating exchange is taking place on and around my Facebook profile — which has already helped balance the big-media blackout on coverage of Rogues’ Gallery. Earlier today, a longtime employee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art posted a comment in response to the blog post directly below (which was cross-posted on Facebook). It said:
“Everybody loves gossip but it doesn’t change the fact that the Met is one of the greatest cultural institutions in the world with an outstanding collection, brilliant curators and administrators, and generous funders who make it all possible. Everybody has skeletons in their closets, petty jealousies, and disagreements. Everybody. If outing successful and wealthy people earns you a few dollars, great. None of it will make any difference in the end. Great art will triumph over short-lived gossip and sour grapes.”
I responded: “Love this. Finally, someone who works for the museum speaks! [Name omitted], (who worked there for years, folks), if you’d read the book — which I’m willing to bet you haven’t — you’d know it’s about a LOT more than ‘outing,’ ‘gossip’ and ‘sour grapes,’ but that’s the Big Lie your longtime employers are promoting because they don’t want people to read the book. Their profoundly anti-historical, anti-democratic attitude, inherited from the founders of the museum, is disgraceful. And it is why you probably haven’t read all I wrote about the ‘outstanding collection, brilliant curators and administrators, and generous funders.’ Your loss!”
She responded, “I see it. I bought it, and am reading it. I think it’s very well written and full of facts and I know the Museum didn’t want staff to talk because of course there are difficulties, complications, and, as I said, some sour grapes. It’s a huge staff current and former. I’ve seen your posts and held my comments which is very difficult for me. I have to take my comment down now because I do believe in confidentiality and that people’s lives should not be written about without their permission and input. I haven’t finished the book but we cannot deny that talking about such people as Jayne [Wrightsman], Annette [de la Renta], etc., without their input is in fact gossip. I wish you the best and do not think I have lost anything as I plan to finish the book.”
To which I responded: “Ka-ching! Another $3.75. Thanks. FYI I just reposted your comment though out of courtesy for you, I did it without your name. I believe in free expression. I also believe that in America, the lives of people who run public institutions SHOULD be written about freely, i.e. without censorship or suppression, or the massaging of PR people who care about image not truth. So I most certainly can and do deny that talking about such people without their input is gossip. It’s a lot more factual than the pretty falsities they spin about their own lives. I hope you will finish the book and then let me know what you think. And thanks for having the courage to defy the book-burners and read it even though they wish you wouldn’t. I respect you for that. Speak out more often. You’ll find it’s addictive as well as its own reward.”
I kind of hope this conversation continues. Even with the names omitted to protect the regretful, it sure beats the cone of silence the museum so wants to impose on discussion of the book!