America’s largest museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is making its political opinion known.
Following the news of America’s exit from the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Met’s president and CEO, David H. Weiss, publicly condemned the decision. In a statement published on the Met’s website, Weiss specifically called out President Trump, claiming that the decision “undermines the historic role of the United States” as a leader in cultural preservation.
Weiss’s full statement is as follows:
One of our most important responsibilities as museum leaders is to protect cultural heritage and promote international education. For more than half a century The Met and countless other museums have successfully partnered with UNESCO, an organization that has earned the respect of nations and communities worldwide for bringing together curators, conservators, and a range of other scholars to educate, preserve, protect, and support the intellectual and artistic traditions of our shared cultural heritage. President Trump’s decision to withdraw from UNESCO undermines the historic role of the United States as a leader in this effort and weakens our position as a strong advocate for cultural preservation. Although UNESCO may be an imperfect organization, it has been an important leader and steadfast partner in this crucial work. The Met remains deeply committed to productive engagement with UNESCO and our colleagues around the world who share this important objective.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has stuck to its guns, citing an “anti-Israel bias” and budgetary concerns as justification for the exit.
“We were in arrears to the tune of $550 million or so, and so the question is, do we want to pay that money?” said Heather Nauert, a spokesperson for the State Department. “With this anti-Israel bias that’s long documented on the part of UNESCO, that needs to come to an end.”
But this isn’t the first time that the Met has gotten political. Back in February 2017, following Trump’s immigration ban, the Met disrupted their permanent-collection galleries to display contemporary art from the Middle East. If history truly does repeat itself, then it’s safe to say this won’t be the last time the Met delves into politics.