Daniel H. Weiss, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 2015 and CEO since 2017, will step down from his role in June 2023. A statement from the museum did not specify a reason for his intended departure. Weiss turned 65 earlier this month.
Weiss, a medieval scholar, joined the Met from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, where he was president and professor of art history from 2013 to 2015. Previously, he was president of Lafayette College and a professor, department chair, and dean at Johns Hopkins University. During his tenure at the museum, he helped raise over $1.5 billion in private support and led the institution through the turmoil of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Weiss’s leadership, says the Met’s statement, the museum “reengineered its budget to enable the Met to retain staff throughout the five-and-a-half-month closure period.” (The museum laid off 79 workers and furloughed 181 others during the pandemic; 93 workers accepted voluntary retirements. The cuts slashed the Met’s workforce by 20% in 2020.)
Along with Director Max Hollein, whom Weiss brought on in 2018, the outgoing president and CEO is credited with ushering in a series of measures related to the museum’s “13 Commitments on Anti-Racism and Diversity,” issued in the summer of 2020 amid nationwide protests against racist violence. Among these measures was the hiring of the Met’s first-ever Chief Diversity Officer, Lavita McMath Turner, appointed that November.
Also in 2020, the museum announced the end of unpaid internships, securing a $5 million donation from art philanthropist Adrienne Arsht to cover intern salaries. The shift to paid internships was a milestone moment for the museum, whose own top staffers are generously compensated. According to the museum’s most recent 990 filings, Weiss’s total compensation from 2020 to 2021 was $1.28 million, and Hollein’s compensation was $1.1 million. (Both executives took a 20% pay cut during the pandemic.)
Weiss also oversaw the implementation of a more controversial policy: a $25 admission fee for out-of-state adult visitors, reversing the museum’s previous “pay-as-you-wish” structure for all visitors.
In the coming months, the Met’s board of trustees will undertake a review of the museum’s current leadership structure. It will consider whether to replace Weiss or do away with its unconventional management model, put in place in 2017, in which the museum’s director reports to the president and CEO.
“Leading the Met has been an extraordinary honor,” Weiss said. “The Museum is an intergenerational institution in service to the world, and I have felt that profoundly from my first day here.”
The last few years at the museum have not been without controversy, and Decatur will inherit a record of workforce struggles.
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