Some of the most prominent cultural figures in the US, including the president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the president of the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, swiftly expressed their opposition to the US government’s decision to pull out of UNESCO. The move, announced yesterday and expected to go into effect at the end of next year, is viewed by many in the cultural sector as yet another example of the Trump administration’s isolationist policies. But experts say the move, which comes after years of strained relations between the US and UNESCO, is more symbolic than anything else.

The Met’s president Daniel H. Weiss said in a rare statement yesterday that the decision “undermines the historic role of the United States as a leader” and “weakens our position” in cultural heritage preservation and international education. “Although UNESCO may be an imperfect organization, it has been a… steadfast partner in this crucial work,” he said.

Jim Cuno, the president of the Getty Trust, noted in a statement that “we were disappointed to hear about the US decision” and praised the organization’s “important work protecting the world’s cultural heritage.” Read more