Making the Mummies Dance
No museum in the world is like the Metropolitan Museum of Art - and no man has ever run it, or revolutionized it, quite like Thomas Hoving. In a decade, Hoving changed almost everything people had grown accustomed to from the Met, shaking the institution out of royal repose and transforming it into the most vital cultural presence in the country. Now, the irrepressible former director delivers a fearless account of his life at the pinnacle of the art world - a modern Vanity Fair, a true story of masterpieces and money, society and scandal, intrigue and international theft. The Met is more than a dazzling art showplace. The museum is a vibrant if quietly influential community, inhabited and run by singular sorts of people: trustees and curators, connoisseurs and conservators. It is steeped in history and tradition and seems to move in a serene and elegant world of impeccable manners and the finest taste. Behind the proper social veneers and pristine marble galleries, Hoving reveals the cutthroat precincts where the real business of the Met is carried out. From seducing important patrons like Robert Lehman, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Annenberg, and Brooke Astor to spiriting ancient treasures across international borders; from striking secret agreements with the world's most powerful dealers to sidestepping rivals; from securing blockbuster exhibitions, like "Tut" and "The Glory of Russian Costume," to seizing the most phenomenal Velazquez portrait, Hoving shares not only the nimbleness and brashness that made him so effective, but also the zeal and passion that made the Met so exciting. Making the Mummies Dance is told in the head-on, even naughty, way that is trademark Hoving. This is an important, shocking museum story and more - an unforgettable tale of power struggles and one-upmanship, fame, big money, and, of course, great art.

Making the Mummies Dance Details

TitleMaking the Mummies Dance
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 15th, 1994
PublisherTouchstone
ISBN-139780671880750
Rating
GenreArt, Nonfiction, Art History, Museology, Museums, History, Autobiography, Memoir

Making the Mummies Dance Review

  • Inge
    January 1, 1970
    That was a craaaazy read -most of the time I did not even believe I was reading non-fiction. Wow, insane.
  • Nytetyger
    January 1, 1970
    Mr Hoving turned the Metropolitan Museum of Art from a staid collection of paintings and sculpture into a vibrant collection of all that art can and should be, for anyone to come in and enjoy. That is opinion, but one generally held by most historians who studied the evolution of Manhattan’s jewel during the late 60’s until the late 70’s. I’m withholding any other opinion, save that it is a shame Mr. Hoving took the time to be a cheap greasy, sleazeball of a weasel to each and every person he fe Mr Hoving turned the Metropolitan Museum of Art from a staid collection of paintings and sculpture into a vibrant collection of all that art can and should be, for anyone to come in and enjoy. That is opinion, but one generally held by most historians who studied the evolution of Manhattan’s jewel during the late 60’s until the late 70’s. I’m withholding any other opinion, save that it is a shame Mr. Hoving took the time to be a cheap greasy, sleazeball of a weasel to each and every person he felt slighted him in nearly any way during those years, and even worse, to print this book when so many of these people are dead and cannot defend themselves from his bitchy commentary. That is my OWN opinion, garnered after reading a book I honestly had looked forward to reading for years.
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  • Vicky P
    January 1, 1970
    It might be a mistake to come into writing this 60 seconds after putting the book down, but this book sure was a ride. For me with my smattering of readings on museum work and cultural heritage provenance, this was an enlightening, fascinating, often appalling look at how the Met was run for a decade in the middle of the last century. For anyone, however, it would be a rollercoaster of a narrative. It's a memoir of a director of the Met, in many ways, but also serves as a tell-all as well as an It might be a mistake to come into writing this 60 seconds after putting the book down, but this book sure was a ride. For me with my smattering of readings on museum work and cultural heritage provenance, this was an enlightening, fascinating, often appalling look at how the Met was run for a decade in the middle of the last century. For anyone, however, it would be a rollercoaster of a narrative. It's a memoir of a director of the Met, in many ways, but also serves as a tell-all as well as an educational tool for those wanting to dip their feet into museum doings and etc.I highly recommend this book, this is one of those ones that I'm bummed I checked out from the library rather than purchased for myself.
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  • Rudy Lopez
    January 1, 1970
    When I was a wide-eyed sixteen year old aspiring artist I saw in Time Magazine that a painting, Diego Velazquez’s 1650 masterpiece Juan de Pareja, was bought for 5.4 million dollars. It was the highest price that had ever been paid for a painting at auction up until that time. The painting had a profound effect on me and influenced the course of my artistic enquiry for a long time afterward. Several years later, as an art student I waited in line for, literally, hours at the Los Angeles County M When I was a wide-eyed sixteen year old aspiring artist I saw in Time Magazine that a painting, Diego Velazquez’s 1650 masterpiece Juan de Pareja, was bought for 5.4 million dollars. It was the highest price that had ever been paid for a painting at auction up until that time. The painting had a profound effect on me and influenced the course of my artistic enquiry for a long time afterward. Several years later, as an art student I waited in line for, literally, hours at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see the breath-taking blockbuster exhibition The Treasures of Tutankhamun. The man responsible for both these momentous events in my artistic consciousness was the indomitable and controversial director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, Thomas Hoving.Making the Mummies Dance is his extraordinary 1994 record of his tenure as director of the premiere art institution of New York city. Now, you could be forgiven for thinking, ‘Right – a book about a museum director; what could be more of a sleeper?’ but Hoving was not your average museum administrator. He initiated and oversaw the largest revamp of arguably the most influential museum in the United States. His impact is still felt today almost forty years later. If we didn’t have this as proof of the effect he had on the culture of museums it would be easy to dismiss much of what he writes as colourful bombast and exaggeration. In this book he jumps off the page, full of energy and ideas, bumping and scraping with almost everyone he meets. His driving, irreverent style reflects his approach to his directorship making as many enemies as splendid art acquisitions along the way. He strategizes, schemes and talks his way around almost everyone from the NY uber-rich to shady art dealers in foreign dark alleys. He doesn’t mince words or assessments of individuals like Senator Robert Kennedy, “(he) had been cold and nasty with me”, to patrons like Nelson Rockefeller, or rivals like J. Carter Brown, the director of the National Gallery in Washington D.C. He unabashedly quotes people like his political patron, Mayor John Lindsey, “Get some of those old rich farts to put up the dough.” Likewise, he is generous with praise for those he respects and admires like eminent art scholar John Pope-Hennessy, “as a professional I had always found him matchless” or Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, “I have never met anyone who carried the burden of celebrity so graciously”. As a former provincial museum educator I found the Byzantine workings of Hoving and the museum, from jet setting around the world, wrestling with Soviet bureaucracy to advising the empress of Iran thoroughly engaging. Yet, at the heart of all the power-wrangling machinations is Hoving’s driving passion for art. If not for his ambition the Egyptian Temple of Dendur and the stunning north wing of the museum that houses it, the magnificent Greek Euphronios krater of 510 B.C. nor the ground breaking photographic exhibition, Harlem on My Mind, would have never seen the light of day. As he wrote, “I have fallen in love more often with works of art than with women…” We, the public, get to be the beneficiaries of that love and this book is a raucous, rollicking documentation of that romance.
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  • Linda Lipko
    January 1, 1970
    The Metropolitan Art Museum is one of my favorite places to visit. To sip tea in the American Wing, overlooking Central Park, is lovely. To see the Tiffany glass works and the large Rodin statue in that wing is one of my favorite things to do. And, during the holidays to visit the incredible Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche is a sheer joy. The American Wing contains the Winslow Homer painting titled Gulf Stream, and I love to absorb every detail of this stunning work!So, then, what's The Metropolitan Art Museum is one of my favorite places to visit. To sip tea in the American Wing, overlooking Central Park, is lovely. To see the Tiffany glass works and the large Rodin statue in that wing is one of my favorite things to do. And, during the holidays to visit the incredible Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche is a sheer joy. The American Wing contains the Winslow Homer painting titled Gulf Stream, and I love to absorb every detail of this stunning work!So, then, what's not to like about the museum, except, the previous director! In his book, page after page is filled with me, me, me, me, me, me, me. Hailing from a small town, of course, I have no reference of cultivating millionaires, or knowing just the right thing to say at the right time, I imagine that directing such a prestigious museum, fund raising, and navigating through a pinkies-in-the air board of directors has many challenges.Still, I could not enjoy the book because of the many references to his accomplishments, his hobnobbing, his snobbery, and thus, the continual name dropping made finishing the book a sheer agonizing accomplishment.I enjoyed reading Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Danny Danziger. It was a joy to learn about the Met through his wonderful interviews of employees. That was a five star book; doesn't light up at all.Hoving was more impressed and obsessed with himself and all the glamorous people he touched rather than explaining the every day workings of the Met.He may have made the mummies dance, but I'm very sure that after one round, they were happy to go back into their sarcophagus.NOT RECOMMENDED
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    OY. I read over 400 pages of a memoir written by someone who I really do not like! Thomas Hoving, while clearly talented and charismatic, comes across as a pompous ass, careless of others' feelings, hyper focused on his own image and too ready to give himself credit for all things good that happen during his tenure at The Met. To be fair, he's also unafraid to point out some of his less vaunted moments, but on the balance, he fancies himself a master of the universe and it becomes tiresome...oh OY. I read over 400 pages of a memoir written by someone who I really do not like! Thomas Hoving, while clearly talented and charismatic, comes across as a pompous ass, careless of others' feelings, hyper focused on his own image and too ready to give himself credit for all things good that happen during his tenure at The Met. To be fair, he's also unafraid to point out some of his less vaunted moments, but on the balance, he fancies himself a master of the universe and it becomes tiresome...oh so tiresome chapter after chapter. I thought the writing was certainly punchy, and he is dishy, going for the jugular in a forthright manner, but the writing was also sloppy and disorganized and that was hard for me to deal with after about page 250. On the upside, the intimate peek into the workings of the Met was absolutely fascinating. Being a docent there may have made me particularly susceptible to the revelations about donors, trustees and acquisitions, but for anyone interested in the high stakes world of fine art, multi millionaires and their enormous egos and tantrums, the sketchy nature of some museum operations and the never-ending race to be the best in New York City (no matter what business you're in) then this book certainly provides some entertainments, but one hundred less pages would have been welcomed by me.
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  • molly
    January 1, 1970
    Really entertaining stuff at first, but completely lost steam at the end. Although that’s been true of almost all books for me recently, so maybe it’s a me thing.Hoving gives almost scary insight into the politics and shenanigans behind running a major museum. Sometimes I found it shocking how much he was willing to reveal- he comments blithely on his sleazy paris doings even while in the next page talking about the wisdom of his wife. He spares no unflattering detail about his colleagues, even Really entertaining stuff at first, but completely lost steam at the end. Although that’s been true of almost all books for me recently, so maybe it’s a me thing.Hoving gives almost scary insight into the politics and shenanigans behind running a major museum. Sometimes I found it shocking how much he was willing to reveal- he comments blithely on his sleazy paris doings even while in the next page talking about the wisdom of his wife. He spares no unflattering detail about his colleagues, even those he terms great friends. And of course it’s a product of his Mad Men-esque time- he couldn’t name a single female colleague without first labeling her degree of attractiveness, which caused me some excessive eye rolling.Hoving is also unbearably full of himself, a statement that I’m sure he himself would agree with. I’m sure he did a lot for the Met, but to hear him tell it the museum was a dusty old dinosaur when he arrived and changed enough to coast for decades on the force of his changes when he left. Maybe he’s right, who knows. I envy him his sense of self. I really loved the descriptions of his temper tantrums, Ive decided I need to cultivate a good adult temper tantrum tactic.Really made me want to visit the met again and take a peek at all these works of art.
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  • Corey Nelson
    January 1, 1970
    How can the direction of a museum of antiquities be interesting? Dealing with old items from people most often no longer living for many years is exciting? Turns out, yes! Maybe the fact that the Indiana Jones movie came out a few years earlier inspired me. It did show the world that at least in a film that collecting antiques could be an adventure. This book is not an action adventure but if you enjoy a bit of sleuthing in the hunt for truth in origin and history, this is a good book. Hoving no How can the direction of a museum of antiquities be interesting? Dealing with old items from people most often no longer living for many years is exciting? Turns out, yes! Maybe the fact that the Indiana Jones movie came out a few years earlier inspired me. It did show the world that at least in a film that collecting antiques could be an adventure. This book is not an action adventure but if you enjoy a bit of sleuthing in the hunt for truth in origin and history, this is a good book. Hoving not only shows how experts have to evaluation the important of history of an item, he shows the seedy side of how people throughout history have tried (and often succeeded) in tricking others in the value of an artistic piece. But is not artistic importance and beauty in the eye of the beholder? Well, yes. But one wants to know that they are getting the real goods and not a knock off. This is especially true in the world of high price tags for museums and serious collectors. Feel in love with Hoving and his storytelling with this book.
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  • Tracey
    January 1, 1970
    Woo. Never a dull moment. No spade not called a spade, no opinion unexpressed. One thing I will certainly say for Thomas Hoving, though, is that he isn't any more afraid to discuss his own foibles and shortcomings and outright failures than he is everyone else's. That's part of what makes his writing appealing. When his own horn deserves tooting, it certainly gets tooted (and, again, he is fair - others' horns toot all over the place as well), but he doesn't ignore his errors. I'm still stunned Woo. Never a dull moment. No spade not called a spade, no opinion unexpressed. One thing I will certainly say for Thomas Hoving, though, is that he isn't any more afraid to discuss his own foibles and shortcomings and outright failures than he is everyone else's. That's part of what makes his writing appealing. When his own horn deserves tooting, it certainly gets tooted (and, again, he is fair - others' horns toot all over the place as well), but he doesn't ignore his errors. I'm still stunned by the sheer underhandedness that went into the acquisition of many, if not most, of the works in the museum, and the strata of hatred and enmity and cronyism (?) throughout the art and antiquities community. Maybe it's just as well I never went that route (it was a passing dream) - I would have been eaten alive. I was attracted by the title, which is brilliant - it was Hoving's intent when he became Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And he did.
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  • Carmen
    January 1, 1970
    Reading about the wheelings and dealings, travel, lifestyle, wardrobe, holidays, ego of the director of the Met is like reading about a parallel dimension if that dimension is on a planet far, far away...completely unrelatable. What makes this book worth reading is the art....Fabulous! I kept the Met's online search page open and looked up almost all the pieces described so well by the author. I see now that I must go back to the museum and visit them in person. I missed so much on my earlier tr Reading about the wheelings and dealings, travel, lifestyle, wardrobe, holidays, ego of the director of the Met is like reading about a parallel dimension if that dimension is on a planet far, far away...completely unrelatable. What makes this book worth reading is the art....Fabulous! I kept the Met's online search page open and looked up almost all the pieces described so well by the author. I see now that I must go back to the museum and visit them in person. I missed so much on my earlier trips!
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    I found this book marvellously amusing, super pretentious and totally ego-driven. What a fun read. The name dropping and Hoving's pride in his outrageous antics drove the book.He ruled, upset everyone, abused his power and brought some great art to the Museum. I wonder how those Board members felt when he left, or the people he called his friends. Did they still do over-the-top things with him? and his wife stayed.
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  • Holly
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this book for a variety of reasons. Although it was hard to get over Hoving's pompous narrative he he pulls off some really amazing stunts for a US Art Museum Director. The Met still revels in the legacy of some of his acquisitions.
  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    Hoving is a total gossip and a bit of an egotist. Get past the cheesy title and cover and devour the dirt on the institution-building of the Met. Guilty pleasure!
  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    I started this book after my internship at the Met, hopefully I will be able to get back to it again someday. I thought it was a fascinating look inside this museum and the people who run it.
  • Debbie Morrison
    January 1, 1970
    Making the Mummies Dance by Thomas Hoving was written to give the reader a fly-on-the wall experience to the inside workings of one of the most prestigious museums in the world, The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art during the time of Hoving’s tenure as Director (1967 - 1977). Hoving’s behaviour is outrageous; he comes across as narcissistic and manipulative, though I’m convinced he plays it up for readers, to dramatize the story. Yet the stories he tells, the deals made with art collectors an Making the Mummies Dance by Thomas Hoving was written to give the reader a fly-on-the wall experience to the inside workings of one of the most prestigious museums in the world, The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art during the time of Hoving’s tenure as Director (1967 - 1977). Hoving’s behaviour is outrageous; he comes across as narcissistic and manipulative, though I’m convinced he plays it up for readers, to dramatize the story. Yet the stories he tells, the deals made with art collectors and donators to boost the museum’s collections, to create exhibits, new buildings and wings in the museum is unreal. But it is real, that’s the point and why I found the book so intriguing. He writes of the “Hot Pot”—the Euphronios Krater, an ancient Greek terra cotta vase that he acquired under dubious circumstances and was eventually returned to Italy given it had been acquired by ‘illegal excavators’, and of the complex deals and negotiations with Cairo Museum and the Egyptian government to make the six-museum tour of the King Tut exhibit happen between 1976 and 1979. At times Hoving gets into details and intricacies of the people involved which is confusing, naming so many people that it’s hard to keep track, yet overall for anyone interested in museums or art will find this book eye-opening.
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  • Eva Drago
    January 1, 1970
    I read this after doing the Museum Hack tour of the Met. The tour guide mentioned she'd sourced a lot of content from this book. The book was written by the director of the Met who oversaw the most transformational time in the museum's history, which occurred partially due to his creativity and audacity and partially do to the changing sociopolitical climate of the 60's and 70's. He gives a fascinating glimpse into the acquisition of some of the Met's most well-known and long-loved pieces, like I read this after doing the Museum Hack tour of the Met. The tour guide mentioned she'd sourced a lot of content from this book. The book was written by the director of the Met who oversaw the most transformational time in the museum's history, which occurred partially due to his creativity and audacity and partially do to the changing sociopolitical climate of the 60's and 70's. He gives a fascinating glimpse into the acquisition of some of the Met's most well-known and long-loved pieces, like the Temple of Dendur. He also details the museum's physical expansion and New York's sociopolitical turmoil during his time as director. Unfortunately, he intersperses interesting content with fluffy stories about New York high society, museum politics, and his own personal agenda. By the last few chapters I found myself skipping over some of the gossipy content to get to the meat, but there was barely any left.
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  • Rachel
    January 1, 1970
    This was a fascinating look deep inside the art world. There was so much to learn about how money is brought in and spent, how art is found and subsequently acquired, the inner workings of trustees, chairmen, curators, art agents, etc, that I'm confident I only really understood 70% of what made this book great. But even at that, I recommend it. There is some discussion of the immoral behaviors of high level movers and shakers, but not in a vulgar way.
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  • Mēgan
    January 1, 1970
    The previous director was full of gossip and judgement, very few morals (had pieces smuggled out of countries for the museum), and seemed to grasp the tenor of NY haute living. Not my kind of person, but then, the Met isn't my kind of museum.Its grand and wonderful to visit, and its really great to leave. Sometimes NY is too much, and Thomas Hoving and his book are no exception.
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  • Donna
    January 1, 1970
    I gave this book four stars for people who like insider looks at how institutions work. Sometimes I got lost in who was whom and what the exact manipulations were, but overall, I found Hoving’s descriptions fascinating. Also to be in the company of such wealth—wow! I have been a trustee/board member and found it expensive, but nothing like this. An eye-opening and entertaining book.
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  • Ami
    January 1, 1970
    Despite the gossipy tone, the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art lets loose with fascinating tales of the intrigue, politics and some of the history of what we see in the wonderful galleries of the Met today.
  • Colleen
    January 1, 1970
    Emma was pretty right about reading parts of it sporadically instead of all at once, but overall it was an interesting glimpse into the world of museum administration in the latter half of the 20th century.
  • Shalan Webb
    January 1, 1970
    Great insight into the history of the Met!
  • Catherine
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes interesting, especially if you like social politics. Often tedious with detail.
  • 3Arvizulz3
    January 1, 1970
    Unpredictable.
  • Beth Ann
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating book by the visionary director who shook up the the Metropolitan Museum of Art fifty years ago and put it on course to becoming what it is today.
  • Andrew Schirmer
    January 1, 1970
    Intermittently interesting overview of art and antiquities acquisition skulduggery. Gossipy, over-inflated, fun in places. Worth it for the chapter on the Velazquez "Juan de Pareja."
  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    interesting read if you are interested in the Met. The insiders guide to the rich and famous in New York.
  • Allison
    January 1, 1970
    If you have ever been to the Met in this present day and age, then you probably have seen the influence of Thomas Hoving. Director of the Met from 1967 to 1977, it is widely believed that his tenure was the most controversial, flamboyant and productive of the museums history. A personal memoir, Making the Mummies Dance is a first person account of Hoving's ten year review from seeing the ousting of his predecessor, his trips to Russia, Cairo, Switzerland, London in order to obtain art , legit or If you have ever been to the Met in this present day and age, then you probably have seen the influence of Thomas Hoving. Director of the Met from 1967 to 1977, it is widely believed that his tenure was the most controversial, flamboyant and productive of the museums history. A personal memoir, Making the Mummies Dance is a first person account of Hoving's ten year review from seeing the ousting of his predecessor, his trips to Russia, Cairo, Switzerland, London in order to obtain art , legit or not, widely known and first major blockbuster exhibitions, to the day he wrote his angered resignation letter and every spat, toad-fest and sweatdrop in between.Despite my absolute love of museums, I, like the majority of people, only have an inkling of how a museum actually runs. And though I understand that museums and their politics are quite different from how they were 30-40 years ago, much of the same is still there. When this book came out, people were shocked, angered, and flabbergasted and I can see why. However, any feeling of that is overcome by sheer enjoyment and keen interest in Hoving's role.This is not a hard book to read because Hoving is very vocal and passionate in all he does. He can explain his feelings and thoughts and recite whole conversations, so you rarely feel left out or as if you are missing something. However, Hoving takes it for granted that he was there and tends to not explain entire situations so there are circumstances where you think you are missing an entire point. For instance, at the beginning he seems to believe that the person reading the book is just as familiar with all the Board of Trustees members as he is - such that you may have had a match of tennis with them as well back in your prep school days. You tend to get lost in the personalities and quirks and preferences of the trustees but I dealt with it by just marking them as all the same: some like him, some don't and usually private opinion sways with the times.Another downer with this book is that you think he'd come back to things. He mentioned being able to buy an entire Frank Lloyd Wright house, which the Met does, but they only want the living room. Hoving ends the story there without another say and not explaining what really goes on with the rest of the house (The living room is actually located inside the Met. It's on the first floor, next to the restaurant area in the Northwest American Decorative Arts gallery). However, despite this shirks, I can't explain how delightful this book is. Mostly filled with anecdote's that are funny and informational, or long spiels about the politics of trying to oust a security guard so that he and his curators can sneak a peek to tell the authenticity of a piece while simultaneously trying to beat every other buyer for the painting. Quality? Grade A. Interest? Completely. Will read again? You betcha.Overall? Excellent.
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  • Kelli
    January 1, 1970
    Definitely some useful insights on museum culture and the uppermost echelon of art lovers (in terms of old money in America). It felt like Hoving was sitting next to you at a dinner party and trying to impress you with the breadth of his accomplishments and he knew he had a very limited time to do so, which resulted in relentless name-dropping and sensational stories meant to obscure the tediousness that is part and parcel of being a museum director. I recommend this book only to those highly in Definitely some useful insights on museum culture and the uppermost echelon of art lovers (in terms of old money in America). It felt like Hoving was sitting next to you at a dinner party and trying to impress you with the breadth of his accomplishments and he knew he had a very limited time to do so, which resulted in relentless name-dropping and sensational stories meant to obscure the tediousness that is part and parcel of being a museum director. I recommend this book only to those highly interested in "the old guard" of museum life. Things have been changing quite rapidly after the publication of this book.
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  • Chris
    January 1, 1970
    There have been dozens of tell-all accounts of the dangerous, backstabbing and byzantine world inside the great art museums of the world (something those not part of this world continue to be surprised at) but few go over this territory with such glee as Thomas Hoving in Making the Mummies Dance. He’s a controversial figure, but one universally regarded as having both done great things and made terrible errors, although what exactly falls into each category is up for debate. Yet in this story he There have been dozens of tell-all accounts of the dangerous, backstabbing and byzantine world inside the great art museums of the world (something those not part of this world continue to be surprised at) but few go over this territory with such glee as Thomas Hoving in Making the Mummies Dance. He’s a controversial figure, but one universally regarded as having both done great things and made terrible errors, although what exactly falls into each category is up for debate. Yet in this story he examines his tenure, starting from his opening accusation that the prior director of the Met was killed by the trustees and ending with his own critical discussion as to how he leaves having alienated even his supporters. He dishes a good bit of dirt, and tells some shocking stories, but more than anything else, he discusses his tenure, and provides readers with some background information. Most surprisingly perhaps is that often many of the scandals were the result of (usually Hoving’s) poor split second decisions or badly worded comments. Although usually painted by detractors as diabolical and scheming, it seems more that Hoving wanted to make changes, but didn’t always get about them in the best way. Nearly 50 years later, history has shown that making museums welcoming, education focused, and expanding their footprint was visionary, but clearly there was a struggle to get there. More than anything else, this book is a great deal of fun to read, and one I would certainly recommend.
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