Christine Coulson with Doon Arbus - Metropolitan Stories (Online Event)

Thursday, April 29, 2021 - 5:00pm

Book Passage Presents

Thurs., April 29th, 2021 • 5:00pm PT • Live • Online

In conversation with Doon Arbus

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From a writer who worked at the Metropolitan Museum for more than twenty-five years, an enchanting novel that shows us the Met that the public doesn't see.

Hidden behind the Picassos and Vermeers, the Temple of Dendur and the American Wing, exists another world: the hallways and offices, conservation studios, storerooms, and cafeteria that are home to the museum's devoted and peculiar staff of 2,200 people—along with a few ghosts.

A surreal love letter to this private side of the Met, Metropolitan Stories unfolds in a series of amusing and poignant vignettes in which we discover larger-than-life characters, the downside of survival, and the powerful voices of the art itself. The result is a novel bursting with magic, humor, and energetic detail, but also a beautiful book about introspection and an ode to lives lived for art, ultimately building a powerful collage of human experience and the world of the imagination.

Christine Coulson began her career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1991 as a summer intern in the European Paintings Department. She returned in 1994 and, over the next 25 years, rose through the ranks of the Museum, working in the Development Office, the Director’s Office, and the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts. In 2019 she left the Met to write full-time. Find more at

Doon Arbus is a freelance journalist: in her reportage work, she frequently wrestles with the hidden codes in a subject’s spoken language, its hesitations and reversals, allowing what the speaker seeks to obscure to become the revelation. Two of her six nonfiction books, co-authored with longtime collaborator Richard Avedon, integrate her text and his photographs to craft a collision of words and images into single labyrinthine narratives. In the fall of 2020, she made her debut as a novelist with The Caretaker, published by New Directions. The fact that she has been responsible for the care and dissemination of her mother’s photographic work for the past fifty years could suggest that a book entitled The Caretaker might relate to the author’s personal experience, but the protagonist of this novel is a most singular man and his story is his own. Find more at


Christine Coulson photo by Jackie Neale; Doon Arbus photo courtesy of author


Metropolitan Stories: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635420937
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Other Press - April 20th, 2021

The Caretaker Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811229494
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions - September 15th, 2020