Why would anyone want to pay twenty dollars to hear Walter Cronkite talk about Poussin's Rape of the Sabine Women, Beverly Sills speak on Caravaggio's The Musicians, or Steve Martin discourse on Goya's The Bullfight? Not, surely for the same reasons people once tuned in to Kenneth Clark and Civilisation. Yet this is just what visitors to the Metropolitan Museum can now do by subscribing to one of its "AT&T Portfolio Tours," the new recorded tours of the museum's permanent collection.[1]

The incongruity of eliciting these celebrities as guides to the Metropolitan's collection must be woefully self-evident to anyone outside the field of public relations. Beverly Sills is an opera singer, as far removed from paintings and sculptures as Philippe de Montebello, the director of the Metropolitan, is from arias...


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