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Metropolitan Museum hires Sotheby’s veteran to lead its provenance research team

Nearly a year after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York announced the creation of an internal provenance research team, the museum is hiring Lucian Simmons to lead those efforts. Simmons, who has worked on provenance matters at Sotheby’s since 1997—his current title there is vice chairman and worldwide head of the restitution department, as well as senior specialist in the Impressionist and modern art department—will take up his new role at the Met in May.

The Met’s collecting practices have come under intensifying public scrutiny over the past decade amid provenance scandals that led to the restitution of objects to countries including Cambodia, China, Egypt, India, Italy, Nepal, Nigeria, Yemen and more. The museum has also restituted a number of works that were found to have been taken from their Jewish owners by the Nazis during the Second World War. Many of these restitutions are now compiled on a new Repatriated Objects page on the museum’s website.

With the addition of Simmons, as well as a number of additional hires and internal promotions, the museum’s provenance team now numbers 11 people. They include Qamar Adamjee, previously a provenance research for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art; Maya Muratov, whose role doing provenance research in the Met’s department of Greek and Roman art has been expanded; and Jennifer Day, formerly head registrar of the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who will work in the Met’s American Wing, focusing on Native American art.

“We are grateful to the curators, conservators and existing provenance researchers who have been deeply engaged in studying the collection for many decades,” Max Hollein, the Met’s director and chief executive, said in a statement. “Our hiring of additional experts will help further these efforts and play a vital role in coordinating the work amongst departments.”

The Met, founded in 1870, is the most visited museum in the United States and has a collection of more than 1.5 million objects. In his new role, Simmons will coordinate provenance research efforts across the entire institution and interface with staff across many of its 19 collecting departments. “I look forward to collaborating with the exceptional staff already focused on this important work and to furthering the museum’s mission,” Simmons said in a statement.

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