When I interviewed him in London last fall, Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, told me off the record that he didn’t want to succeed Philippe de Montebello as director of the Metropolitan Museum in New York because he much preferred to stay on where he was. Over the past few months I’ve been told the same thing, always off the record, by a few other major museum directors and never quite believed it. But in MacGregor’s case, it appears he meant it.
Bloomberg News is reporting that Hannah Boulton, who heads media relations at the British Museum, has told them that MacGregor had discussions with the Met’s search committee. “But in the course of that conversation,” she said, “he ruled himself out of the job of running the Met.” MacGregor declined to confirm that he had been asked, but at a press breakfast in London yesterday the chairman of the British Museum, Niall FitzGerald, did announce that MacGregor had agreed to stay at that museum through 2012.