Top of page Skip navigation
ISD Areas of Work



48 Charles Street,
London W1J 5EN
info@strategicdialogue.org Tel: +44 (0) 20 7493 9333
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7493 4909

Humanitas Visiting Professorship in the History of Art

Philippe de Montebello

Humanitas Visiting Professorship in the History of Art

15 - 22 November 2012
University of Cambridge

Professor Philippe de Montebello, Director Emeritus, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Fiske Kimball Professor, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, served as Humanitas Visiting Professor in the History of Art 2012-2013. 


Professor de Montebello delivered three lectures during his tenure as Humanitas Visiting Professor in the History of Art 2012-2013. Drawing on an impressive amount of professional experience and personal insight, Philippe de Montebello explored a wide range of approaches to the history of art, touching on the social and philosophical as well as the cultural and political. His three lectures developed on the theme ‘The Multiple Lives of the Work of Art’, a phrase de Montebello coined to highlight that no work of art appears to modern audiences as it was originally conceived. De Montebello’s lectures explored how works of art change and evolve as humans view, experience, and alter them in different ways over time.

His series began with a lecture on ‘The Many Faces of Context’, which introduced the audience to the notion of re-contextualisation as a form of appropriation. His second lecture, ‘Destruction, Alteration, and Renewal’, explored how iconoclasm, vandalism, and restorations affect the work of art and the viewer. In his final lecture, ‘Change as Constant’, de Montebello spoke about how intrinsic and extrinsic factors account for the transformations in works of art over time.

Philippe de Montebello’s tenure was concluded by a symposium which brought together art historians from across the U.K. Astrid Swenson, Elizabeth Prettejohn, Jean Michel Massing, Iain Fenlon, Bronwen Wilson, and Deborah Howard discussed and reflected on the themes brought up in de Montebello’s lectures. 

Philippe de Montebello retired at the end of 2008 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art after serving for 32 years as its longest tenured director. He is its first Director Emeritus. In 2009 Mr. de Montebello became the first scholar in residence at the Prado Museum in Madrid and was recently named to the Board of Trustees of the Musée d'Orsay. He is Special Advisor for the visual arts at NYU's Abu Dhabi Campus. He holds Honorary degrees from NYU, Harvard University and Dartmouth College.

For more information on Professor Philippe de Montebello's series, click here. To view the flyer for the series, click here.

Professor de Montebello's three lectures can be seen on the ISD's YouTube Channel.

The Humanitas Chair in the History of Art has been made possible by the generous support of J E Safra.

Visit of delegation from Shanghai Jiao Tong University to ISD, London, September 2013
Humanitas Visiting Professorship in the History of Ideas, Professor Lorraine Daston, January 2013
Ian Bostridge, Humanitas Visiting Professor in Classical Music and Music Education, 2014-2015
The Oxford–Weidenfeld Prize is for book-length literary translations into English from any living European language.
Michael Govan, Humanitas Visiting Professor in Museums, Galleries and Libraries, May 2014
Journalists Edward Lucas, Deborah Rayner and Nabila Ramdani talking to ISD's Weidenfeld Scholars, June 2012
The 14th Policy Planner’s Network Conference, September 2013, Helsinki, Finland,
Participants watch a presentation during ISD's second Social Media and Intolerance workshop, July 2012
15th Meeting of the Policy Planners' Network (PPN), March 2014
Louise Arbour, President, International Crisis Group, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, February 2014
Preventing and Countering Far Right Extremism And Radicalisation: European Cooperation Workshop
Mona Siddiqui, Humanitas Visiting Professor in Women's Rights, March 2014
A bright start to the new academic year for the new Weidenfeld Scholars
Vik Muniz, Humanitas Visiting Professor in Contemporary Art, May 2014
Imogen Cooper, pianist, Humanitas Visiting Professor of Classical Music and Music Education, 2012-2013
Gregory Doran, Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Humanitas Visiting Professor in Drama 2012-2013
Johan Rockström, Humanitas Visiting Professor in Sustainability Studies, 2014-2015
Renée Fleming, Humanitas Visiting Professor in Opera Studies, November-December 2013
The 19th Plenary Meeting of the Club of Three, May 2013