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Touring the Met with Museum‘s Author

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When I told Danny Danzinger‘s publicist that I thought we should do our interview about Museum, his new book about the Metropolitan Museum of Art, at the Met, I confess that my reasons were entirely selfish: I just hadn’t been there in a couple years, and I wanted to see the new Greek and Roman antiquities wing. Turns out I was actually doing him a favo; the last time he’d been through these galleries was during the early morning, and the light streaming into the rooms during our afternoon tour was wonderful. “It’s like I’m seeing it with new eyes,” he marveled as we wandered. “In my interview with Philippe de Montebello, he talks about how he would want to take his ‘last walk’ through the Met at noon… Now I see what he means.”

“I just thought this museum was so much fun,” he said when I asked how he decided to start his book. “Europe’s museums are so gloomy, and it feels like people go to them out of a sense of duty. And I’d never been to an American museum before my first visit here. We don’t even have many American things in British museums.” As we talked about the people he’d interviewed during his research, he observed at one point that he hoped he didn’t sound obsequious, “the way the Post described me,” and I took the opportunity to refer to last month’s reports about how passages critical of the Met had been toned down. If Museum chooses to celebrate the Met and its people, I prompted, not every book needs to be a tell-all. “Oh, I wouldn’t have minded writing that sort of book,” he responded. “When I wrote my book about the London Philharmonic, after all, one of the reviews was headlined ‘Bed Hopping & Bitchery.’ But this is a genuinely harmonious place.”

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