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Promotional material for the upcoming The Real Museum Directors of New York City

If there’s one thing that Andy Cohen knows, it’s drama. The Watch What Happens Live host has made stars of dozens of well-to-do housewives through one of cable TV’s most lucrative franchises: The Real Housewives. Documenting privileged women in cities across the United States allows us insight into the secret lives of idle rich: table flipping, drunken tirades at quiet vineyards, and daily meltdowns.

Cohen, a staple of New York City celebrity culture, has recently used his clout to cast an unlikely cohort of New York elite. TMZ reports that six directors from the city’s most revered art institutions will be moving into a townhouse on the Upper East Side — Real World-style — for the network’s latest program, The Real Museum Directors of New York City. While the official cast remains unknown, rumored picks include Richard Armstrong of the Guggenheim and Glenn Lowry of the Museum of Modern Art.

The elite of NYC’s cultural sector will be joining the fray of prime-time stars to battle out one of the juiciest hot-button topics in the museum world right now. Amid public disputes over the future of museums (to deaccession or not to deaccession, that is the question), friction between museum directors across the country has been mounting. With his cool demeanor during notoriously heated reunion episodes, Cohen has (temporarily) smoothed over the fiercest of feuds between the housewives. Can he do the same for these museum execs?

“I think it’s a diversion,” said one NYC museum employee, who asked that their identity be shrouded out of fear of retaliation. “These institutions want to direct the heat away from their boards and shady dealings. Hundreds of local museum workers have been laid off since the start of the pandemic, and prison profiteers sit as trustees, but these directors are more worried about publicity.”

“But I’d still like to see a drink get thrown in the face of … ” they trailed off. “Never mind, I’ve said too much.”

This isn’t the first time that Bravo has dipped its toe in the artistic pool: its past programs have included Gallery Girls and Work of Art: The Next Great Artist. But this latest program begs the question: Is the fate of our cultural future in Andy Cohen’s hands?

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Jasmine Weber

Jasmine Weber is Hyperallergic's news editor. She is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn, particularly interested in Black art histories and visual culture. She received her B.A. in Ethnic Studies...