Emily Kernan Rafferty '69 Named President of NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art

Emily Kernan Rafferty ’69 was named the first woman president of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art by the board of directors in mid-September. She will report directly to Philippe de Montebello, the museum’s director and chief operating officer. The Metropolitan is the nation’s largest museum with more than two million exponents in its vast collections, and it hosts some five million annual visitors.

In commenting on her new position Rafferty said, “I am truly honored to have the opportunity to serve the Metropolitan Museum as its next president and am deeply grateful to the board and the director for their confidence in me. In my mind and heart—more than ever—the health and vitality of the Met is crucial to the education and enlightenment of visitors from the city, the nation, and the world.”

Reflecting on her time at PMC, Rafferty said, “It was at Pine Manor that I first took seriously my studies and intellectual growth. Miss Pierce's course on World Religions awakened my mind to new ways of thinking and helped to shape my global view of the world. It was the beginning of my love and understanding of diverse cultures and their tangible expressions through all artistic forms. My life at the Met has expanded this knowledge immeasurably. Certainly Pine Manor fostered many friendships for me, a number of which continue to enrich my life today.”

Rafferty has worked for the Met for 28 years, beginning her distinguished career there as a fundraising administrator in 1976, and spending five years on corporate, foundation, and individual fundraising. In 1981, she became the manager of development; from 1984 to 1996, she served as the vice president for development and membership. Since 1999, she has been the Met’s senior vice president for external affairs, with responsibility for the areas of development, visitor services, admissions, and special events. She also led the efforts to create and manage the museum’s Web site, as well as its multicultural audience and membership initiative.

During her 20 years in charge of the Metropolitan’s vast national and international fundraising operations, she helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars and boosted the Met’s individual, family, and corporate memberships from 98,000 to nearly 120,000. She also introduced “holiday Mondays,” a program that opened the museum on federal holidays for the first time in more than 50 years, and “member Mondays,” which allowed members to pay $50.00 to see special exhibitions in a less crowded environment when the museum was closed to the general public.

As president, Rafferty will be responsible for the museum’s administration, including development and membership, technology and information services, human resources, merchandising, communications, government relations, legal affairs, finance, and facilities management. She will oversee 2,000 full- and part-time employees, and she will supervise a $155-million remodeling project, which includes the creation of a Grand Roman Court and Islamic galleries.

A native of New York City, Rafferty received her Associate’s Degree from PMC in 1969 and her BA degree cum laude from Boston University in 1971. She began her professional career that same year as an arts and philanthropy assistant to David Rockefeller, Jr., in Boston. From 1973 to 1975, she served as the deputy director of education at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art.

Rafferty is affiliated with a number of arts and inter-museum organizations, including Art Table, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Women in Financial Development, the American Association of Museums, and Independent Sector. She is a lifelong honorary trustee of the Convent of the Sacred Heart, served on the board of the Independent School Chairmen Association and the Blue Ribbon Committee of the American Cancer Society Foundation, and was president of the Blue Hill Troupe, Gilbert and Sullivan Repertory Theatre in 1998–1999.

Rafferty is married to John Rafferty, an audit partner at Ernst and Young, and they have two children: Nicholas, who recently graduated from Trinity College, and Sara, a student at New York University.