Monday, December 14, 2009

Thomas Hoving 1928 - 2009

The man you can thank for the advertising banners outside Te Papa, the late night entertainments at the Auckland Museum, the invitation of Te Maori to the Metropolitan in 1984 and the focus on entertainment by so many of today’s museums, died last week. Thomas Hoving all but invented the museum blockbuster and although he had left the Metropolitan Museum by the Time Te Maori showed up, his spirit was still presiding over the box office. As director of one of the greatest museums in the world, Hoving swung the limelight away from curators and researchers and onto the announcement and display of spectacular purchases, crowd thrilling exhibitions and media stunts. He called his memoir Making the mummies dance and that’s exactly what he did. The Metropolitan is now steering a somewhat more sedate course, but like them or not, most museums and art galleries throughout the world (including our own) are children of Hoving's style.