Philippe de Montebello was born in Paris and received his early education in France. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and received a master’s degree in art history from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts.  With the exception of four and a half years as director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, he has spent his entire career at the Metropolitan, first as curator in the Department of European Paintings and later as the Museum’s Chief Curator.

In 2008, Philippe de Montebello retired after 31 years as the longest-serving director in the Metropolitan Museum’s 140-year-long history.  Under his leadership the Metropolitan Museum nearly doubled in size, vastly increasing its exhibition space.  The Metropolitan also acquired significant collections and individual masterpieces, mounted acclaimed international loan exhibitions, developed wide-reaching educational programs, and reinstalled much of its permanent collections in new and refurbished galleries. In 2008 the curators of the Metropolitan Museum paid homage to Mr de Montebello’s tenure by mounting an unprecedented tribute exhibition of some 300 works of art that entered the collections under his leadership, The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions.

Following his retirement, Mr de Montebello became the first scholar in residence at the Prado Museum in Madrid, and he launched a new academic career as the first Fiske Kimball Professor in the History and Culture of Museums at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University; he is also a special advisor for NYU’s Abu Dhabi campus. Mr. de Montebello is the television co-host with Paula Zahn of the WNET/PBS weekly culture series NYCArts. He also serves as Special Advisor to the Leon Levy Foundation.

Mr de Montebello was elected in 2008 to the Board of Trustees of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris and in 2012 he was elected Honorary Trustee of the Prado Museum in Madrid.

Lectures and symposium

Destruction, Alteration, Renewal
20 Nov 2012 5:00pm - 6:30pm, Mill Lane Lecture Room 9
Change as Constant
21 Nov 2012 5:00pm - 6:30pm, Mill Lane Lecture Room 9
The Multiple Lives of the Work of Art
22 Nov 2012 2:00pm - 6:00pm, Alison Richard Building, ground floor, SG1

Humanitas Visiting Professor in the History of Art 2012-13, Professor Philippe de Montebello will give a series of three public lectures and a concluding symposium on The Multiple Lives of the Work of Art.


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk