Metropolitan Museum of Art Appoint Luke Syson to Head European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Department

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced that Luke Syson will become the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Curator in Charge of the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, effective in January 2012. Currently at the National Gallery, London, Mr. Syson holds the dual positions of Curator of Italian Paintings before 1500 and Head of Research. As curator, he most recently organized the upcoming major exhibition Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan, which will open in November. As Head of Research, he has led the effort to focus and enhance the gallery’s scholarly research program through the creation of research and study partnerships and other initiatives.

He will succeed Ian Wardropper, who will become director of The Frick Collection in New York in October. James David Draper, the Metropolitan Museum’s Henry R. Kravis Curator, will then serve as interim head of the department until January.

“I am enormously pleased to announce the appointment of Luke Syson,” stated Mr. Campbell. “His scholarship and experience are far-reaching, and his work embraces sculpture, painting, and the decorative arts. I have known Luke and have had the utmost respect for his work for many years. I look forward to working with him here at the Met as he applies his broad perspective to our distinguished European sculpture and decorative arts collection.”

Luke Syson received his BA from the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, where he also studied for three years in the PhD program, with a focus on ruler portraiture in 15th-century Milan, Ferrara, and Mantua. From 1991 to 2002, Mr. Syson was Curator of Medals at the British Museum in London, where he was the intellectual coordinator and co-curator of Enlightenment: Discovering the World in the Eighteenth Century, a new permanent gallery that opened in 2003 in the former King’s Library. In 2002-2003, he served as a Senior Curator on the planning team for the V&A’s Medieval and Renaissance Galleries. He began work at the National Gallery, London, in 2003 as Curator of Italian Painting, 1460-1500. Between 2003 and 2009, he was responsible for directing the re-hanging of the Early Italian paintings in the gallery’s Sainsbury Wing, and for the temporary display of Renaissance sculptural reliefs from the V&A. He also served as curator of the exhibition Renaissance Siena: Art for a City (2007-2008), and co-curator of both Renaissance Faces: Van Eyck to Titian (2008-2009) and Pisanello: Painter to the Renaissance Court (2001-2002).

Besides contributing to catalogues of the exhibitions cited above and others, Mr. Syson has written on a broad range of subjects for scholarly journals including The Burlington Magazine and the National Gallery Technical Bulletin. He was also the co-author, with Dora Thornton, of Objects of Virtue: Art in Renaissance Italy (London and Los Angeles, 2001), which examines the multiple meanings and values of fine and decorative arts in 15th- and early 16th-century Italy.

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