Ditching the jargon

Should we ditch the jargon at the door as well? Check out Met Museum director Thomas Campbell’s recent TED talk on breaking down boundaries at the museum and in art history

TED Blog

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Thomas P. Campbell, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, starts his TEDTalk by telling a story of the first time he took an art course. It was taught by Pietro, an “irrascible Italian, who drank and swore much too much.” At one point he projected a very graphic image on a wall, with many figures of wine and cavorting, and asked them what it was. Campbell said it was a “bacchanal.” His teacher responded, “You fucking bookworm. It’s a fucking orgy.” He’s tried to bring that sense to his curation.

His own eureka moment came when he was studying the art of the courts of modern Europe, which was generally discussed in terms of the paintings. But in everything he read, there were descriptions of the tapestries, and for good reason: They were portable. “You could transform a cold, dank interior into…

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