Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – Danny Danzinger, 2007

I grew up just a few blocks from the Met and have spent many, many hours there. It’s not my favorite museum in the world (that would be the V&A;, followed by quite a few others before getting to the Met), but it’s the one I know best. Yet I saw many other sides of it in this Studs-Terkel-style interview book. Danziger’s no Terkel, but he draws out many different sides of his subjects. The most interesting aspect to me was probably the clear class divisions between the workers (security guard, plumber, etc. – not totally blue-collar but close), the curators (intellectual, boho), and the trustees (obnoxiously wealthy and privileged). Because the order is simply alphabetical by last name, they rub elbows in the pages in a way that presumably doesn’t happen in real life. A quick, enjoyable read, which makes me want to visit again and take a closer look at Duccio’s Madonna and Child, Rembrandt’s portrait of Gerard de Lairesse, and the pi-pa (a Ming dynasty lute). The Akkadian (Assyrian) reliefs always fascinated me, but I didn’t realize before how unusual they are.

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