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Press release

The Met Appoints David Breslin as Curator in Charge of the Museum’s Modern and Contemporary Art Department

(New York, September 20, 2022)— The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today the appointment of David Breslin to the position of Leonard A. Lauder Curator in Charge of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, following a comprehensive international search conducted over several months. Breslin currently serves as the Whitney Museum of American Art’s DeMartini Family Curator and Director of Curatorial Initiatives, having previously served as Curator and Director of the Collection. He joins The Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at a pivotal moment as it begins planning and implementing the renovation of the Oscar L. and H.M. Agnes Hsu-Tang Wing for modern and contemporary art. In his role as Curator in Charge, Breslin will be a creative and organizational leader with the project’s architect, Frida Escobedo, in collaboration with the Museum’s leadership and curatorial departments across the Museum. He will begin at The Met later this fall.

“The Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art is at an exciting and crucial moment as it evaluates and continues to strengthen its collection while planning future programming for the Tang Wing, working with colleagues across the Museum,” stated Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met. “David Breslin is a proven leader and an enthusiastic collaborator with an exemplary background in collection building—both at the Whitney and in his previous role at the Menil Drawing Institute—and has organized many important exhibitions, most recently co-curating the 2022 Whitney Biennial which was globally recognized and critically acclaimed.”

Breslin commented, "I'm elated to be joining The Met and my new colleagues at this important moment in the Museum's history. The Tang Wing will allow The Met to uniquely reimagine and present the entangled histories of modern and contemporary art from around the world. Additionally, through the combined efforts of many, it will give clarity to the singular efforts of each artist presented—respecting unique commitments and positions. The Tang Wing's great success will be in its coupling of pedagogy and serendipity, providing connections to the past and the space for imagining new futures." 

The Met boasts a collection of some 14,000 works of modern and contemporary art in a variety of media by some of the most exciting artists from Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Turkey, North Africa, and the United States. Over the past four years, The Met’s leadership team has focused on expanding its program to feature a diversity of well-known and emerging artists through special exhibitions in the Museum’s galleries—for example, with focused shows on artists such as Jacob Lawrence, Alice Neel, and Charles Ray and transnational surveys such as Surrealism: Beyond Borders—and across the Museum, building on the annual Roof Garden Commission with a series of contemporary commissions for the facade niches—the newly opened installation of works by Hew Locke is the third in the series—and Great Hall, with a commission by Kent Monkman in 2019.

About David Breslin
Since joining the Whitney in 2016, Breslin has spearheaded collection-related and artist-centered activities, curated major collection exhibitions, overseen acquisitions, and led interdepartmental projects. In 2019, he became the museum’s first director of curatorial initiatives, developing approaches that further the Whitney’s broader artistic vision and engagement, such as the institution’s Indigenous Artists Working Group. That same year, he was a Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellow. In his tenure at the Whitney, he has organized or co-organized timely and thematic collection displays, including Where We Are: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1900–1960; An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940–2017; Spilling Over: Painting Color in the 1960s; and The Whitney’s Collection: Selections from 1900 to 1965. In 2018, he co-curated, with David Kiehl, the landmark retrospective David Wojnarowicz: History Keeps Me Awake at Night and most recently co-curated, with Adrienne Edwards, Whitney Biennial 2022: Quiet as It’s Kept

Prior to his time at the Whitney, Breslin was at the Menil Drawing Institute, where he created an ambitious program of exhibitions and public and scholarly events and helped to shape the design of the institute’s new facility and fellowship program. He oversaw work on the catalogue raisonné of the drawings of Jasper Johns and grew the collection. Breslin also served as the associate director of the research and academic program and associate curator of contemporary projects at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. There, he organized several exhibitions, including Raw Color: The Circles of David Smith and El Anatsui at the Clark. Breslin co-edited Art History and Emergency: Crises in the Visual Arts and Humanities (Yale University Press, 2016), a volume that grew from a Clark conference he organized with art historian Darby English.
Breslin earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Amherst College, a master’s in art history from Williams College, and a PhD in the history of art and architecture from Harvard University. His doctoral dissertation, “I WANT TO GO TO THE FUTURE PLEASE: Jenny Holzer and the End of a Century,” was informed by his experience working in Holzer’s studio, planning and executing with the artist many museum and gallery exhibitions and organizing a diverse range of public projects.

About the Tang Wing
The Met announced plans to fully reimagine its current modern and contemporary galleries in November 2021. Led by architect Frida Escobedo, the project will create 80,000 square feet of galleries and public space. The Met has been seeking to revamp its Modern Wing for more than a decade. The reimagination of the wing will enable the Museum to approach 20th- and 21st-century art from a global, encyclopedic, playful, and surprising perspective. This bold new vision will result in a building that respects and connects with the Museum’s archipelago of architectural styles as well as its spatial organization and infrastructure. Through flexible gallery spaces, the wing will emphasize the interconnectedness of space and time and suggest a non-chronological narrative.

About The Met
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens—businessmen and financiers as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day—who wanted to create a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. Today, The Met displays tens of thousands of objects covering 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in two iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online. Since its founding, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures.


September 20, 2022

Contact: Alexandra Kozlakowski

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