MET Fifth Avenue – The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, United States
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (also known as the Met) in New York is one of the world’s largest museums of fine and applied arts. With over six million visitors a year, the MET is the most visited art museum in the United States.
History and buildings
The museum was opened to the public for the first time in 1870 with the aim “to bring art and art education to the American people”. Since 1880, the museum’s main building is located on the 5th Avenue in Manhattan site bordering Central Park.
The MET’s original building on Fifth Avenue, still partially visible, was designed in the late 19th century by architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould as an imposing Gothic-revival palace, and repeatedly enlarged thereafter. The current facade on 5th Avenue was built in 1902 after a design by Richard Morris Hunt.
A major expansion plan, designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates, was carried out between 1975 and 1991.
Today, the MET Fifth Avenue is one of the largest museums in the world, with a gross floor area of some 2 million square feet (180,000 square meters).
In September 2014, the MET inaugurated a new 1,021-foot-long / 300-meter-long public space, known as David H. Koch Plaza, situated in front of the museum’s main entrance on the 5th Avenue. Designed by American landscape and urban design firm OLIN, the new plaza is a state of the art contemporary outdoor space that ideally completes the south-west historical facade of the MET. With an area of 70,706- square feet / 6,500 square meters, the Koch Plaza is paved in Maine’s granite stone, and equipped with seats, parasols, fountains, 106 Little Leaf Linden and London Plane trees, and a sustainable LED lighting system.
The MET has a branch located in northern Manhattan, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens, which contains a large collection of medieval art and architecture. Since March 2016, the MET presents modern and contemporary art exhibitions in a new venue in Midtown Manhattan, the MET Breuer, formerly the home of the Whitney Museum of American Art.
The MET Fifth Avenue and the David H. Koch Plaza in New York City; photo © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Masterplan for the MET’s expansion by Richard Morris Hunt (early 1890s)
Collection and permanent exhibition
Like the Louvre and the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is an “encyclopaedic” museum, with departments covering various forms of artistic expression: American art, Ancient near-east art, Arms and armor, Art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, Asian art, Costume, drawings and prints, Ancient Egypt, European paintings, European sculpture and decorative arts, Ancient Greek and Roman art, Islamic art, Medieval art, Modern and contemporary art, Musical instruments and Photography.
The immense collection of the MET, which amounts to more than two million pieces, ranges
from Caravaggio’s paintings to Stradivari’s violins, from works by Picasso and Van Gogh to Balenciaga’s haute couture dresses, from Egyptian sarcophagi to artworks by Francisco Goya or Wassily Kandinsky, to name a few.
Selected objects from the museum’s collection are exhibited into thematic sections, each encompassing several rooms. Some of such “rooms” are actually grandiose spaces, such as the Sackler Wing, dedicated to ancient Egyptian art and architecture, the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts hall, and the Greek & Roman Galleries.
The Temple of Dendur (1st century B.C., Egyptian, Roman period), Sackler Wing; photo: Tony & Wayne
Masterpieces on view
World-renowned paintings on view at the MET include Fresco from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale (Roman, ca. 50–40 B.C.), Portrait of a Lady, (c. 1450) by Paolo Uccello, The Annunciation (ca. 1485-92) by Botticelli, The Harvesters (1565) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Christ Carrying the Cross (ca. 1577–87) by El Greco, The Musicians (c. 1595) by Caravaggio, Portrait of Juan de Pareja (1650) by Diego Velázquez, Woman with a Lute (1662) by Johannes Vermeer, Portrait of Gerard de Lairesse (1665–67) by Rembrandt, The Dancing Class (1872) by Edgar Degas, Self-Portrait with Straw Hat (1887) by Vincent Van Gogh, The Four Trees (1891) by Claude Monet, Seated Harlequin (1901) and The Oil Mill (1909) by Pablo Picasso, Self-Portrait (1911) by Egon Schiele, Reclining Nude (1917) by Amedeo Modigliani, The Lighthouse at Two Lights (1929) by Edward Hopper, Autumn Rhythm – Number 30 (1950) by Jackson Pollock, and No. 13 – White, Red on Yellow (1958) by Mark Rothko, to name just a few.
Outstanding sculptural works include Head of Tutankhamun (limestone sculpture, Egyptian, ca. 1336–1327 B.C.), Ritual Figure (wood sculpture, Egyptian, 380–246 B.C.), Bronze portrait of a man (Roman, first half of 1st century A.D.), Virgin and Child (1470-75) by Andrea della Robbia, Triton (1560–70) by Giambologna, Bacchanal: A Faun Teased by Children (ca. 1616–17) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Perseus with the Head of Medusa (1804–6) by Antonio Canova, Adam (modeled 1880 or 1881, cast 1910) by Auguste Rodin, and Three Men Walking II (1949) by Alberto Giacometti, among others.
Along with paintings and sculptures, the MET museum’s collections include exceptional drawings, such as the Head of the Virgin in Three-Quarter View Facing Right (1510–1513) by
Leonardo da Vinci; photographs – including 15, rue Maître-Albert (1912) by Eugène Atget, From the Back Window – 291 (1915) by Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray’s Rayographs of the ’20s, and Schiphol (1994) by Andreas Gursky -; pieces of furniture, including the Farnese Table (ca. 1565–73) by Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola; musical instruments, such as the ex “Kurtz” violin (ca. 1560) by Andrea Amati and The Gould violin (1693) by Antonio Stradivari.
The MET Fifth Avenue also features a number of architectural elements and even entire buildings, such as the famous Temple of Dendur, on view in the Sackler Wing; yet, many architectural items from the Metropolitan Museum’s collection are exhibited at The Cloisters.
View of MET’s Gallery 611, with the paintings Cardinal Fernando Niño de Guevara (ca. 1600), and Portrait of an Old Man (1595-1600) by El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos); photo: Timothy Neesam
Additional services and activities
The Metropolitan Museum of Art organizes temporary exhibitions, guided tours, art workshops, music concerts and live performances, educational programs for families, adults, and kids, as well as touring exhibitions, and research programs.
The MET complex includes a library for professionals and a library open to all, various departmental libraries and study rooms, the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for education, a museum store, a cafe, two self-service restaurants, a fine-dining restaurant, and a panoramic roof garden – frequently used for special events and special art installations.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is fully accessible to physically impaired persons.
MET Fifth Avenue, exterior views of the museum’s south-east facade and the David H. Koch Plaza. Photos © The Metropolitan Museum of Art
MET Fifth Avenue, Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court; photo: Aránzazu
Cubiculum (bedroom) from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale, ca. 50–40 B.C.. MET Fifth Avenue, gallery 165; photo courtesy of MET
Ritual Figure (detail), 380–246 B.C., wood (formerly clad in lead, )MET Fifth Avenue, gallery 128; photo courtesy of MET
Leonardo da Vinci, The Head of the Virgin in Three-Quarter View Facing Right, 1510–1513, black chalk, charcoal, and red chalk on paper, usually not on view; photo courtesy of MET
Bronzino (Agnolo di Cosimo di Mariano), Portrait of a Young Man, ca. 1530, oil on wood, MET Fifth Avenue, gallery 609; photo courtesy of MET
Vincent Van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889, oil on canvas, MET Fifth Avenue, gallery 822; photo courtesy of MET
Pablo Picasso, Seated Harlequin, 1901, oil on canvas, Met Fifth Avenue, gallery 830
Cover image: Facade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue; photo by Evan Lee, courtesy of MET
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copyright Inexhibit 2020 - ISSN: 2283-5474