COURTESY UNESCO

Following news earlier today that the United States will pull out of the cultural organization UNESCO, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s president and CEO, Daniel H. Weiss, has issued a statement about the news. He calls UNESCO “an important leader and steadfast partner” in the ongoing struggle to conserve cultural monuments and decries the Trump Administration’s decision.

In a statement earlier today, the U.S. State Department noted UNESCO’s “anti-Israel bias” and said it would stop working with the organization at the end of 2018. (Israel followed suit shortly thereafter.) That decision has already received pushback from various officials, including UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova, who said in a statement today, “Universality is critical to Unesco’s mission to strengthen international peace and security in the face of hatred and violence, to defend human rights and dignity.”

Weiss’s statement follows below.

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.