The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Photo: Zack Frank/Fotolia

Starting out as an idea in France when a group of American businessmen decided to create a national art institution and gallery, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, commonly called The Met, first began construction in New York, and was opened to the public on April 13th, 1870. The museum was spear headed by Attorney John Jay and supported by many local businesses, politicians, clubs, and philanthropists.

Over the next few years, objects such as Roman sarcophaguses and European paintings were acquired. The museum moved to a new location on Fifth Avenue in 1880 and has been there ever since. The museum has been expanded so many times that the original building is no longer visible, being surrounding at almost all sides by new construction. Only the west wing has any indication of the original Ruskinian Gothic style.

»History

History


The Met was established as a leader in classical antiquities soon after opening and holds that distinction to this day. By the 20th century, the museum was already regarded as one of the best in the world and was the first public institution to acquire a painting by Henri Matisse. The unofficial mascot of The Met, the Egyptian Hippopotamus Statue has been part of the museum since 1917 and is a great nod to the 26,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts that are on display inside.

The Museum has come to hold one of the largest collections of European paintings included five of the only 35 known paintings of Johannes Vermeer, as well as the most comprehensive collection of American art in The United States.

The building is over two million square feet now and is one of the largest museums in the world. The museum has expanded into three separate buildings now—The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, The Met Cloisters, and hosts over 6.5 million visitors every year from nearly every country in the world.

The Met Breuer is the newest addition to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Completed in March of 2016, this museum space is dedicated solely to modern and contemporary works of art. Works from the 20th and 21st century and all around the world are featured in The Met Breuer while The Met Fifth Avenue, which is the main site of the museum features classical art.

The Met Cloisters is a much older addition to The Met and features art from Medieval Europe. This space was opened in 1938 to the public and is in northern Manhattan on over four acres of land that overlook the Hudson River. This museum also features gardens that reflect the poetry of the time and 2,000 works are on display inside.

The Met Fifth Avenue is considered the main building of The Met and where most people think of when they envision the museum. This building is one of the largest museums in the world and features classical antiquity art and ancient artifacts from all over the world including one of the most famous exhibits of Ancient Egypt outside of Cairo. Photo: Dario Ricardo/Fotolia

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»The Collection at The Met Fifth Avenue

The Collection at The Met Fifth Avenue


The hub of The Metropolitan Museum of Art features 10 different exhibits representing ancient and classical art from around the world and is arrange as such. The Great Hall is the main entrance of the Museum and features rotating art works, ticket booths, lockers, coat check, information desk and restrooms. The Met Store is also located in The Great Hall, as are the entrance and exit.

Greek and Roman Art is one of the most popular exhibits at The Met Fifth Avenue. The space features a great room and long hallway filled with over 17,000 art works and artifacts dating all the way back to 4,500 B.C. Although the collection features mostly greek and roman art through 312 A.D., there are also pieces from Asia during Roman imperialism also.

Egyptian Art is arguably the most popular exhibit at the museum. Comprised of over 26,000 pieces, this collection is the most comprehensive and impressive outside of Cairo. Some of the oldest artifacts known to the world, dating back to 300,000 B.C. can be found in this space. Most of the collection has been curated and excavated in Egypt by The Met research and archaeological team. The Tomb of Perneb and The Temple of Dendur are both located in this exhibit.

Arms and Armor is a space dedicated to arms and armor used in combat scenarios and well as decorative or ceremonial usage. There are pieces from all over the world including Asia and full armor pieces that were used in English jousting tournaments.

The American Wing represents American Art from the 17th through early 19th century. There is an enclosed sculpture court, a cylindrical panoramic room, and a special room of late 19th century aesthetic movement works that include furniture and stained glass. There is a café located in this wing as well as restrooms.

European Sculpture and Decorative Arts has over 50,000 pieces of western European art works including jewelry, wood work, furniture, metalworks, tapestries, textiles and machines. This pieces are from the 15th through early 20th centuries.

Robert Lehman Collection is one of the most impressive collection of privately amassed pieces in the world and was donated to The Met Fifth Avenue. This collection is in the back of the museum in its own wing. Works from the 14th through 20th centuries are included in the collection from sculpture to paintings, manuscripts, and precious jewels from western Europe.

Medieval Art of The Met is one of the most comprehensive in the world. This exhibit is centrally located in the museum and includes pieces from the Byzantine and medieval periods of European history. There are also a few pieces dating back to the bronze and iron age and into the Renaissance period as well.

Modern and Contemporary Art exhibit at the Met Fifth Avenue is home to a sampling of over 12,000 works from artists from 1900 to the current time. Henri Matisse, Picasso and others influenced by Paris school of Art as well as contemporary pop art and expressionism.

Arts of Africa, Oceania, and The Americas is a collection of 11,000 works from sub-Sahara Africa, Native American and Pacific Island peoples. Many of the works are ceremonial and dedications to ancient gods, ancestors and familiar spirits. Photo: Luciano Mortula-LGM/Fotolia

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»Exhibitions at Met Fifth Avenue and The Breuer

Exhibitions at Met Fifth Avenue and The Breuer


There are currently 32 different exhibitions at The Met Fifth Avenue. The five featured exhibitions are Jerusalem:1000-1400, Every People Under Heaven which highlights the cultural and historical significance of the ancient Hebrew city. Fragonard Drawing Triumphant explore the use of chalk, ink and different washes to create drawings and etchings by 18th century artist Fragonard. Valentin De Boulogne Beyond Caravaggio is a collection of the famed naturalist painter De Boulogne. Only 60 works by the artist remain and The Met has 45 of them. Max Beckman In New York is a modern art collection and Native American Masterpieces is on loan from The Charles and Valerie Diker collection.

Other exhibitions at The Met Fifth Avenue focus on Korean art, Japan, Phil Collins, Alex Katz, Faberge eggs, Islam, China and Mexico.

There are currently three exhibitions at The Breuer. Diane Arbus in the Beginning is a photography exhibit from Diane Arbus that highlights her life in New York City. This collection was donated to The Breuer by descendants of the mid-21st century photographer. Kerry James Marshall Mastry is a monographic representation of the life works of Kerry James Marshall. The 80-piece display includes 72 paintings of modern art revolving around the Civil Rights Movement and African-American life. Humor and Fantasy: The Berggruen Paul Klee Collection is the largest collection of works by the artist in America. The works span his entire 70-year career.

There are many ongoing programs through all three buildings of The Met that offer educational and hands on learning for people of all ages. Some programs have specific age restrictions and there can be programming arranged in advanced for visitors that need translating services or for those who have disabilities. The Met offers both paid and free programming that visitors can visit the website or contact the venue to find out more about.

MetCreates is a program that offers drawing, studio workshops and Sunday family events inspired by over 5,000 pieces of contemporary art.

MetsLiveArts is dedicated to theatrical arts where performances are held in The Met Fifth Avenue Auditorium. Musical, dance and theatrical performances are often held.

MetTours offers guided tours of The Met Gallery Talks, and special programs for curators and educators, including graduate students.

MetSpeaks is programming aimed at students and adults in the art profession. These lectures, symposiums, forums and panels all relate to exhibits and collections at The Met.

MetStudies links classroom education to real world application for high school and college students.

MetCelebrates features festivals and cultural programs at special times throughout the year. Some of these events include the opening of exhibitions to celebrate the artist for members only, community benefits, galas, and The Lunar New Year Festival.

The Met Fifth Avenue 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York, 10028, website, Phone: 212-535-7710 Photo: Zack Frank/Fotolia

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan