NYC’s Temple of Dendur Sees Patrons Return as One Makes an Exit
(Bloomberg) -- The Metropolitan Museum of Art held its Acquisitions Benefit on Tuesday night, with guests walking under a glass panel with the “Sackler” name on it to get to their supper in the Temple of Dendur.
Less than two days later, the same panel had been wiped clean, with the Met announcing the stripping of the Sackler name from seven galleries in an agreement with the family that made billions selling opioids and contributed to a public health crisis.
There were no obvious signals Tuesday night that this was in the works. What was obvious was the Met pulling out the stops to make its current and potential patrons feel welcome.
The event, which raised more than $3.6 million, was younger, hipper and more diverse than ever before. Among them were Jeremy O. Harris of “Slave Play” and artists Lorna Simpson and Huma Bhabha. Mikaela Bennett sang “Somewhere” from “West Side Story” during dinner in the temple, where pink peonies glowed by candlelight.
The steps of the Great Hall were transformed into an Art Deco fantasy, just one touch of party planner Bronson Van Wyck, who has earned the moniker “Social Jedi.” It was at the foot of the steps that John Holiday -- who’ll have his Metropolitan Opera debut Saturday night -- crooned during cocktails, and where a Lena Horne double sang a sultry version of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” after supper.
That’s also when waiters in white jackets served espresso martinis from brass bar carts, not that the guests needed the extra stimulation in this better-than-Great-Gatsby moment.
The message of the evening: After a battering during the pandemic, and reckonings about equity and inclusion, the museum is roaring back. There was Oscar Tang, who with his wife, Agnes Hsu-Tang, pledged $125 million to the museum. There were Lauders who’ve given armor and Picassos. There were Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee, who’ve promised a gift of photographs.
Nineteen years ago, Brooke Astor at age 100 was a featured player of the event. This year, so many faces shared the limelight.
Chairing the event for the first time, were Tenenbaum, Amy Griffin, Samantha Boardman, Gina Peterson and Dasha Zhukova. Jessica Seinfeld, Brett Heyman and Olivia Flatto were among the guests.
“The world has changed,” museum director Max Hollein said. “The Met is always redefining itself.”
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