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About The Met/ Collection Areas/ Ancient Near Eastern Art/ Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff

Portrait of Kim Benzel

Kim Benzel

Curator in Charge

Kim Benzel joined The Met in 1990 and has worked on numerous exhibitions and related publications. Her most recent project is Rayyane Tabet/Alien Property (2019). Kim holds a Ph.D. in Art History and Archaeology from Columbia University and studied at the Kulicke-Stark Academy in New York, where she focused on goldsmithing methods used in antiquity and acquired the technological expertise that now informs so much of her art historical research. Currently, Kim and her colleagues in the Department are working on a full reimagining and renovation of the permanent galleries of ancient Near Eastern art at The Met.

Portrait of Anne Elizabeth Dunn-Vaturi

Anne Dunn-Vaturi

Senior Research Associate, Provenance

Anne Dunn-Vaturi conducts the provenance research and documentation for the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art. Before joining The Met in 2009, she worked at the Louvre for an audit of long-term archaeological loans to other museums and for the task force researching looted art during the Nazi era. She is also a specialist in ancient board games (co-curator of the exhibition Art du Jeu, Jeu dans l'Art, Musée de Cluny, Paris, 2012–13; co-author of Ancient Egyptians at Play: Board Games Across Border, Bloomsbury Egyptology, 2016). Anne has an MA in art history, archaeology, and museum studies from the École du Louvre, and an MA in archaeology from the Sorbonne University, Paris.

Portrait of Sarah Graff

Sarah Graff


Sarah Graff joined the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art in 2007, and earned a PhD from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts in 2012. Her research explores the practical, cultural, and metaphysical uses of clay in Mesopotamia, and the world of ancient demons and monsters. She has taught at Cooper Union and the CUNY Graduate Center, and has participated in archaeological excavations in Syria at Tell Mozan/ancient Urkesh. She works with several community-based partner organizations to expand access to the collections and to explore cultural heritage connections between people and objects over time.   

Portrait of Lilly Kustec

Lilly Kustec

Associate Administrator

Lilly Kustec was a MuSe intern in the Ancient Near Eastern Art department in 2016 and joined the department as staff in March 2022. She manages the administration and operations of the department as well as coordinates events for the Friends of Ancient Near Eastern Art. Prior to the Met, Lilly worked abroad at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. She holds a BA in art history and archaeology from Middlebury College.

Portrait of Chloe Lovelace

Chloe Lovelace

Collections Management Associate

Chloe Lovelace joined The Met in 2015 as an intern in Egyptian Art and worked in the Museum's Education department until joining the Ancient Near Eastern Art team in 2022. She primarily supports projects related to collections care and the upcoming galleries renovation. Chloe holds a B.A. in Classics and Political Science from The University of Tennessee at Knoxville (2015) and a M.A. in the History of Art and Archaeology from New York University's Institute of Fine Arts (2020). 

Shawn Osborne

Principal Departmental Technician

W. Shawn Osborne is responsible for art handling and maintaining the collection in the galleries and storerooms. He has been with The Met for over twenty years, and was formerly a technician for Asian Art. Outside of the Museum, he does brand consulting, logo design, and product innovation. Over the years, he has even made t-shirts for several of the Department's special exhibitions. Shawn studied business administration at St John's University and has a degree in accounting.

Portrait of Yelena Rakic

Yelena Rakic


Yelena Rakic received her BA from Barnard College and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research has focused on Mesopotamian cylinder seals and, more recently, the early history of collecting ancient Near Eastern objects in the United States. She has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Connecticut, Cooper Union, and the CUNY Graduate Center, and has participated in archaeological excavations in Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. She is currently researching the history of the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at The Met. She has worked on numerous exhibitions at the Museum and co-curated The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia (2013).

Portrait of Michael Seymour

Michael Seymour

Associate Curator

Michael Seymour completed his Ph.D. at University College London before joining the British Museum in the Department of the Middle East, where he was co-curator of the exhibition Babylon: Myth and Reality (2008–2009). He moved to New York and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2011, assisting on the exhibition Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age (2014–2015) and co-editing its symposium volume (2016). Most recently, he co-curated The World between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East (2019). His research focuses on the reception and representation of the ancient Near East, particularly the city of Babylon, and on Mesopotamian art of the first millennium B.C.

Portrait of Daira Szostak

Daira Eden Robert

Collections Manager

Daira Eden Robert was a graduate intern in 2014 and joined The Met full-time the following year. Her interests and responsibilities lie primarily in collections care. Her job is to ensure that objects are stored and displayed in accordance with best practice. She also manages the departmental database. Daira earned her BA in Near and Middle Eastern civilizations, and completed a master's degree in museum studies at the University of Toronto, Canada.