At a glance, the exterior of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (a.k.a. the Met) gives no hint to show the treasures it contains within its galleries. I mean, its exterior doesn’t have the jutting crystals of Toronto’s ROM (not that they’re beautiful or anything. On the contrary, I think they’re hideous), nor the glass pyramids of the Louvre, nor does it resemble a cupcake’s icing as donned by its sister museum down the street, the Guggenheim. Aside from the souvenir stalls and food vendors lining 5th Ave., it really has nothing special to distinguish itself as a state-of-the-art museum. Plus, prior to my visit, I only associate the steps of the Met (not even the actual building) as Blair and Serena’s meeting place in Gossip Girl (yes, I watched Gossip Girl up until season 3. You can stop laughing at me now!). Heck, most of what I know about New York I learned from that show. For example, Brooklyn is over the bridge (duh!) and Butter is a (fictitious or real?) posh restaurant that even Blair Waldorf had difficulty in getting a table. Anyways, my point is, I wasn’t terribly excited to visit the museum until I was inside and started going through its galleries.
We intentionally left our entire Sunday afternoon empty as we knew we were going to do one of the museums included in our CityPASS. Despite the fact that MoMA houses Van Gogh’s Starry Night, I persuaded Julie and Natasha to go to the Met instead (or maybe they had no idea about this, but that’s beside the point). We walked over and enjoyed a quick street performance before we went inside to the air-conditioned Great Hall (whoever invented the AC, THANK YOU! I owe my sanity to you. NYC is NOT fun in the 30+ heat!).
Did you know that the Met dates all the way back to 1866? The idea was conceived by a group of Americans in Paris who wanted to bring the arts and art education to the American people. The museum first opens its door to the public in 1880 and has since expanded both its collections and its buildings. Today, it covers roughly 2 million sq.ft. with over 2 million objects, tens of thousands of which are on display on any given day. In short, it’s impressive. Really.
I highly recommend getting the audio guide to help you appreciate what you are looking at. Trust me, it’s the best $7 you’ll spend in Manhattan! We followed the Director’s Tour on the audio guide, which promised to give us a general view of the entire museum and show us the highlights of each gallery for 90 minutes on each floor. This is a lie. Read that again. This is a lie. You absolutely cannot go through one floor of the Met in 90 minutes. We spent around 5 hours and we didn’t even come close in covering the entire museum ground. Most of the time, we flew from one gallery to another. Below is a list of my favourite parts from our afternoon at the museum.
The Great Hall designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt
The Temple of Dendur in the Sackler Wing
The government of Egypt gifted the temple to the United States in 1968 to recognize the support they gave to help save Egyptian arts from the rising waters of the Nile. It is an example of a Pharaonic temple and it was built in 15B.C. I can’t even begin to imagine how they transported the entire temple from Egypt to the States.
The Charles Engelhard Court in the American Wing
An expansive atrium with beautiful statues glowing under the streaming sunlight – this was my favourite gallery in the entire museum!
The facade of the house imitates that of the Branch Bank of the United States originally located on Wall Street. The house itself contains period rooms and interior decorations in the Americas. Directly opposite is the entrance columns Louis C. Tiffany designed for his country estate in Long Island.
Medieval Sculpture Hall
Designed to mimic a church, this gallery houses a complete spanish choir screen from Valladoid Cathedral of 1763. It also contains many religious statues, sculptures, and paintings.
Carroll & Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court
With seemingly silly sculptures from 17th to 20th centuries, we definitely had the most fun here. I think Julie and I would have gone crazy were it not for Natasha’s reserved composure.
Leon Levy & Shelby White Roman Sculpture Court
I apologize for the lack of pictures in this gallery (and in every gallery following). At this point, my brain was positively fried and over-loaded from processing all the information from the audio guide and I just lost interest in taking anymore pictures. But, still, there is something about Roman sculptures that is so royal, romantic, and grand. I love them.
Modern & Contemporary Art Galleries
I have no words to describe the works of art contained in this gallery. I’m sure, though, all of them are astonishing works and very… artistic.
As I’ve mentioned before, these are only the highlights of our one afternoon at the Met and it is by no means a comprehensive guide to the museum. If I were to do it again, I’d probably spend an entire day in there with a lunch break in between. Heck, even if I do that, I probably still wouldn’t be able to cover the entire museum. All the information I have above I gathered either from the audio guide or from the Met website. Pictures are mine, though, taken with my camera or my phone (I know, my phone camera continues to surprise me too!).
So, should you go to the Met when you’re in NYC? I say yes, give it a chance! You may even learn a few things here and there!
Has anyone else been? If so, what did you think of it?