Arik Hesseldahl

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Columbia’s Sreenivasan Bolts for New Digital Job at New York’s Metropolitan Museum

Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sree Sreenivasan, a longtime presence at Columbia University — first at its Graduate School of Journalism, and then more recently as its first chief digital officer — will be leaving the university in August to take a position with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The hyper-connected Sreenivasan, who often for the sake of simplicity goes by just his first name, will become the Met’s first chief digital officer, starting Aug. 12. In the new role, he’ll lead the museum’s Digital Media department into some new initiatives, especially in the areas of documentation and interpretive materials on the museum’s collection. He confirmed the move to AllThingsD after Capital New York reported on it this morning.

Having graduated from Columbia’s Journalism School himself in 1993, Sreenivasan simply never left. Some 20 years later, as a professor, he has taught most subjects in the curriculum at least once, and spent the last seven years holding the title of dean of something or other; most recently it has been dean of student affairs. (Full disclosure: I’m a graduate of Columbia’s Journalism School and was a student of Sree’s in the mid-1990s.) He’s also a columnist at CNET, has been a regular TV tech commentator, most recently for New York’s WCBS, and was a founder and contributor at DNAInfo.com, the respected local news site.

His academic background, coupled with his years working as a peripatetic pied piper, speaking to media organizations the world over on the benefits and hazards of social media, will come into play. Thomas Campbell, the Met’s CEO put it like so, in a statement: “Sree comes to the Met with a strong background in the communication of ideas. His work in traditional journalism, his role as a commentator on technology and media issues, and his expertise in websites and social media will all be key to the museum’s work in the digital space.”

Sreenivasan said he wasn’t looking for a new job, but when the museum came calling, it was hard to resist. “I loved what I was doing at Columbia, but when you’ve been in love with something like the Met Museum for 30 years as I have, it’s very hard to say no.”

The museum, he said, “represents our shared history” in two million pieces of art. “It’s all there. I believe that everyone in the world should feel ownership of the Met, they should feel connected to it even if they can’t make it to New York. And that’s what I’m going to be working on.”


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