An essay “Behind the Scenes at the Met,” published in T The New York Times Style Magazine, penned by twenty-five-year veteran of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Christine Coulson, garnered wide interest when it ran in 2016. Readers were enthralled to look beyond the Picassos and Vermeers and experience the world of the Met staff, coalesced into an eccentric extended family who occupy an underworld of hallways, studios, storerooms, and tunnels within the Museum. Here, Coulson, imbued life into the seemingly banal, retrieving forgotten moments in the Met’s history and expanding our sense of the magic that dwells within. Following the piece’s success, the Met granted Coulson a year-long sabbatical during 2017 to write a novel, during which she held a research residency at the New York Public Library and was a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome.
Coulson’s twenty-five year career at the Met grew into her enchanting debut novel Metropolitan Stories (2019). Metropolitan Stories garnered critical attention when it first published, including praise from the Wall Street Journal, NPR’s ‘All Things Considered’, Artsy, Town & Country, Andrew Solomon, Ariel Levy, and Maira Kalman, among many, many others. Coulson embarked on a multi-city tour including in conversation partners Isaac Mizrahi, White House Cabinet Secretary Evan Ryan, Corby Kummer, Senior Editor at The Atlantic and more.
This Spring, readers will be granted a chance to return to this powerful ode to lives lived for art that they so thoroughly connected with in the original, as METROPOLITAN STORIES (Other Press Paperback; On-Sale April 20, 2021; $15.99) publishes in a beautiful, updated paperback edition. A love letter to the Met, METROPOLITAN STORIES weaves magical realism to expose the inner workings of this legendary institution. Kernels of truth radiate from the heart of many of the chapters—people, places, rituals, events—which are then fused with Coulson’s imagination and aptly shaped into indelible vignettes. With echoes of E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Julian Barnes’ A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters, Coulson relies on a mix of truth and fiction to capture the wonder that radiates through the Met. Her unique point of view on the secret life of art, the palpable history within the building, and the staff’s dependence on the objects, spins an unforgettable tale.
With an insider’s wealth of knowledge, Coulson reveals a world of larger-than-life characters, from the artwork to the devoted and peculiar staff who dedicate their lives the museum’s operation, ghosts that haunt basement hallways, and the powerful voice of art itself. METROPOLITAN STORIES bursts with magic, humor, and energetic detail and we’re thrilled to offer readers another chance to revisit this unique novel this Spring.
About the Author:
Christine Coulson began her career at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1991 as an intern in the European Paintings Department. In the 25 years since then, Coulson has risen through the ranks of The Met and has held several positions, including roles in the Development Office, the Director’s Office and the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts. In April 2019, she left the Met to write full-time.
METROPOLITAN STORIES: A Novel
By Christine Coulson
Other Press Paperback • ISBN: 978-1-63542-093-7
On-Sale Date: April 20, 2021 • Price: $15.99