Thomas P. Campbell

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Thomas Patrick Campbell (born July 12, 1962)[1] is the director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, overseeing the de Young and Legion of Honor museums. He served as the director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art between 2009 and 2017.[2] On 30 June 2017, Campbell stepped down as director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and accepted the Getty Foundation's Rothschild Fellowship for research and study at both the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and at Waddesdon Manor, in the UK.[2]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Singapore and raised in Cambridge, England, where he attended The Perse School. He earned a BA in English language and literature at New College, Oxford in 1984,[3] followed by a Diploma from Christie's Fine and Decorative Arts course, London, in 1985. While studying for his master's degree at the Courtauld Institute of Art (1987), he discovered how much mainstream art history had overlooked the major role of tapestry in European art and propaganda. During the following years, he worked to rectify this oversight by creating the Franses Tapestry Archive in London (1987–94), which, with more than 120,000 images, is the largest and most up-to-date information resource on European tapestries and figurative textiles in the world.[4] His early research culminated in several research articles and a PhD from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London (1999) on the art and culture of King Henry VIII's court.


Tom Campbell has served for more than a decade as Director and CEO of two major US art museums—the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2009–2017, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco since 2018.[5]

Metropolitan Museum of Art[edit]

Campbell joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1995, where he conceived and organized several acclaimed exhibitions and publications as a curator in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts department, including Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence (2002), named "Exhibition of the Year" by Apollo Magazine,[6] Tapestry in the Baroque: Threads of Splendor (New York, 2007; Palacio Real, Madrid, spring 2008).[7] “Then after nearly 14 years of widely admired work as a curator and scholar, Campbell was the unexpected choice to succeed Philippe de Montebello.”[8]

During his tenure as director, Campbell was also at the helm for popular and critically acclaimed exhibitions, including: Picasso in the Metropolitan; Alexander McQueen; Bronzino Drawings; Lost Kingdoms; Baldessari; Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity; The Pictures Generation; Regarding Warhol; The Renaissance Portrait; Kongo; China Through the Looking Glass; Chinese Ink Art; Pergamon; Unfinished; Jerusalem; Diane Arbus, and Kerry James Marshall.

Campbell led the reconception of the Met’s approach to modern and contemporary art, including the hiring of Sheena Wagstaff to lead a reorganized department, focused on the art of the 20th and 21st century, and launching the Met Breuer in 2016.[9] “The Met Breuer enabled visitors to engage with the art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries through the global breadth and historical reach of The Met's unparalleled collection and resources through a range of exhibitions, commissions, performances, and artist residencies.”[10]

In 2013, Campbell secured one of the most significant gifts in the history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the philanthropist and cosmetics tycoon Leonard A. Lauder’s collection of 78 Cubist paintings, drawings, and sculptures.[11]

As the New York Times said in their announcement of the gift, “scholars say the collection is among the world’s greatest, as good as, if not better than, the renowned Cubist paintings, drawings and sculptures in institutions like the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and the Pompidou Center in Paris. Together they tell the story of a movement that revolutionized Modern art and fill a glaring gap in the Met’s collection, which has been notably weak in early-20th-century art.”[12]

In 2014, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute reopened to the public following a two-year renovation with the inaugural exhibition Charles James: Beyond Fashion.[13] The costume conservation center also underwent a renovation, including its storage and study facility that houses the bulk of the collection, and the costume reference library. The renovated space now allows the Costume Institute to present exhibitions 10 months out of the year.

2014 also saw the launch of a new interactive feature on the Met’s website and a new iPad app. The website One Met. Many Worlds,  “allows visitors to explore more than 500 highlights from the Museum’s encyclopedic collection in English, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.”[14] The website presents individual works of art linked to universal themes and concepts and invites visitors to respond by pairing images playfully, poetically, and creatively. The iPad app, 82nd & Fifth, features curators from across the Museum discussing 100 works of art in the Met’s collection that change the way they see the world – “one work, one curator, two minutes at a time.”

During Campbell’s tenure, the annual Met Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden Commission was established.[15] Artists featured included, Huma Bhabha (2017), Adrián Villar Rojas (2016), Cornelia Parker (2016), Pierre Huyghe (2015), and Dan Graham with Günther Vogt (2014).[16]

On 30 June 2017, Campbell ended his tenure as director at the Metropolitan Museum. Robin Pogrebin at the New York Times reported on 27 July 2017: "Thomas P. Campbell, who last month ended his tumultuous tenure as chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been chosen as the second recipient of the Getty Rothschild Fellowship, the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Rothschild Foundation announced on Thursday. The fellowship supports scholarship in art history, collecting and conservation, offering art historians, museum professionals or conservators up to eight months of research and study at the Getty in Los Angeles and Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England."[17]

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco[edit]

Since 1 November 2018, Campbell serves as the Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, in California.

Personal life[edit]

Campbell is married and lives in San Francisco. He and his wife Phoebe have a son and daughter.[18]


  1. ^ "Campbell, Dr Thomas Patrick, (born 12 July 1962), Director and Chief Executive Officer, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, since 2018". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U253901. ISBN 978-0-19-954088-4. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Thomas P. Campbell Receives Second Getty Rothschild Fellowship | News From The Getty". 27 July 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  3. ^ "North American Reunion". New College, Oxford. 2012. Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  4. ^ Vogel, Carol. "Curator at Met Named Director of the Museum". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  5. ^ Mervosh, Sarah (30 October 2018). "Thomas Campbell, Ex-Director of the Met, Is Hired to Lead San Francisco Museums". Retrieved 2 August 2022.
  6. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Quinn, Bridget. "Museum on the Edge". ALTA Journal. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  9. ^ "". Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  10. ^ Retrieved 22 August 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ Vogel, Carol (9 April 2013). "A Billion-Dollar Gift Gives the Met a New Perspective (Cubist)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  12. ^ Vogel, Carol (9 April 2013). "A Billion-Dollar Gift Gives the Met a New Perspective (Cubist)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  13. ^ Cascone, Sarah; Cascone, Sarah (5 September 2013). "Met Museum's Costume Institute Reopens with Charles James". Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  14. ^ Retrieved 26 September 2022. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ "Los Angeles artist Lauren Halsey will create the Metropolitan Museum's next rooftop commission". The Art Newspaper - International art news and events. 15 March 2022. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  16. ^ "Listing The Met Museum's Roof Garden Commissions So Far". Widewalls. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  17. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (27 July 2017). "Thomas P. Campbell, Former Met Chief Executive, Gets Fellowship". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  18. ^ Murg, Stephanie. "Thomas Campbell Named Next Director of Metropolitan Museum of Art". Media Bistro. Archived from the original on 18 September 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2013.

External links[edit]

Cultural offices
Preceded by Metropolitan Museum of Art by Simon Fieldhouse.jpg
Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Succeeded by