The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 5th Avenue (at 82nd street)
Hours: Tuesday - Thursday, Sunday 9.30 am - 5.15 pm
Friday and Saturday 9.30 am to 8.45 pm
Fee: suggested donation of $8 for adults, $4 for students and seniors
To get there: take the 4, 5, or 6 trains to 86th street; exit station and
walk west towards the park; hang a left and you can't miss it.
The Met is the oldest public museum in the city. Open since the late 19th
century, it has gone through many an incarnation before it settled into
what is today, probably the best museum in the United States. Even so, the
Met is NYC's dowager auntie of museums: slightly run-down at the heels, but
still looking fine in its conception of the modern day (multimedia mixed
with old standbys). It has always has and always will provide a lovely
afternoon. No matter what you are looking for the Met has it. It is
suggested that you spend at least three hours in this museum as it is
rather large (and has more than enough to keep anyone busy for that amount
of time). Also bring money and lots of it: the Met's gift shop is an
experience. Picture three levels of stuff ranging from the best of art
books, to post cards, slides, kids toys and jewelry. You can always find
something for someone in this place.
Collection: Everything. Literally. From a Greek vases to 20th century
painting, the Met has the rundown on whatever could strike one's fancy. One
of the best aspects of the museum is its Egyptian art collection. While
not as comprehensive and complete as the Brooklyn Museum, the Met's
collection is nothing to complain about. You must check out the Temple of
Dendur, a rescued temple from 15 b.c. Another interesting, but lesser known
piece from the collection are a pair of gold sandals; they are solid gold,
look very uncomfortable, but at the same time are gorgeous. If European
painting is your thing, go upstairs to the painting galleries where you can
see everything from old masters and Byzantine icons to the progenitors of
modern art in the 19th century galleries. The Medieval area is fine,
especially if you can't make it to the Cloisters. It has sculpture,
furniture, enamels, liturgical items, and a wonderful reliquary head (which
is kind of odd at first, but sort of neat once the strangeness wears off).
The Lehman wing in the back has some fun little galleries which no one
seems to really go to. These galleries hold Netherlandish painting (and one
of the wickedest Jesus and Mary paintings I have ever seen) to a few
Rembrandts. The Asian areas are amazing, especially since the Chinese
galleries have been reopened. The American wind has a lovely collection of
period rooms from America's past (dec art heaven). If you have ever
wondered what your salon might have looked like if you were rich and alive
in 18th century France, the Met also has numerous period rooms rescued from
various places in Europe. And I can't forget the Costume Institute, one of
the more interesting parts of the museum. The CI always has some sort of
interesting exhibition on dress up. Recent shows have included 'Wordrobe'
(how words have been used in clothing) to 'Bare witness' (how the body is
sexualized by revealing various parts). Call ahead to find out what other
exhibits are up.
All in all, you MUST go see this place. And if you can, pay the entrance
fee. It is worth it. Pick up a map in the great hall and map out where you
want to go and what you want to see: the place is really big and it is easy
to get lost (you were warned). Avoid the cafeteria: overpriced and full of
mundie tour groups from Kansas.
Commentary by Heather Babb, Monday, January 25, 1998.
|Photo: Rachel / Model: John Hopkins|