Philippe de Montebello ©Reuters/

Philippe de Montebello was born in Paris in 1936 and moved to the United States in the early 1950s, obtaining his degree at Harvard University, followed by a Masters at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University. He joined the Metropolitan Museum in 1963, rising to the position of Curator of European Painting before accepting the directorship of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Texas, in 1969. In 1977 he was appointed Director of the Metropolitan Museum, an institution that he led for more than 31 years with outstanding brilliance and judgement until his retirement in late 2008. He is currently Fiske Kimball Professor at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University.

During his period as Director of the Academic Chair of the Prado, between March and October 2009, Philippe de Montebello is organising a lecture series entitled The Museum: today and tomorrow. The lectures will reflect on museums and the new challenges that face them in the 21st century with regard to areas such as research, education, technology and exhibitions. The series counts on the participation of leading figures from the international museum world and the subjects of the lectures include: the role of the art museum; excellence and universality; the work of art and education as pillars of the museum; physical and intellectual accessibility; ways of understanding and conserving art; the role of curators; and the de-localisation of museums in an era of globalisation.

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