Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Metropolitan Museum Of Art - MET

Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, often called “the MET,” is in New York City and is one of the largest art museums in the United States. It is in the top five most visited art museums in the world.

The MET’s collection has over two million works of art from antiquity to modern times. The collection consisting of paintings, sculptures, musical instruments, costumes, and accessories, and antique weapons and armor from around the world.

Highlights include large gallery installations, ranging from first-century Rome through modern American design.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s main building is on the edge of Central Park along Manhattan’s Museum Mile.

A second location, The Cloisters, is at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan. It has an extensive collection of art and architecture from Medieval Europe.

A third site is the Met Breuer Museum at Madison Avenue in the Upper East Side. It focuses on the museum’s modern and contemporary art program.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection is divided among the seventeen curatorial departments, as outlined below. It is a museum where every visit brings something new.

A Virtual Tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

MET European Paintings Collection

MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection

MET Greek and Roman Art Collection

MET Egyptian Art Collection

MET Asian Art Collection

MET Ancient Near Eastern Art Collection

MET American Wing Collection

MET Islamic Art Collection

MET Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas Collection

MET European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Collection

MET Medieval Art Collection

MET Drawings and Prints Collection

MET Costume Institute Collection

MET Arms and Armor Collection

MET Photograph Collection

MET Musical Instrument Collection

Explore

Highlights of the Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

MET European Paintings Collection

Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Léon

“Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Léon Gérôme depicts the story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where the sculptor Pygmalion kisses his ivory statue Galatea, after the goddess, Aphrodite has brought her to life. 

In Ovid’s narrative, Pygmalion was a Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory. Galatea “she who is milk-white” is the name of the statue carved by Pygmalion.

His figure was so beautiful and realistic that he fell in love with it. On Aphrodite’s festival day, Pygmalion made offerings at the altar of Aphrodite, and he made a wish.

When he returned home, he kissed his ivory statue and found that its lips felt warm. Aphrodite had granted Pygmalion’s request; the ivory sculpture changed to a woman with Aphrodite’s (or Venus’ the Roman equivalent) blessing.

Saint Jerome as Scholar” by El Greco

This painting of “Saint Jerome” by El Greco is one of five known pictures of Saint Jerome by El Greco. Saint Jerome is shown in the red vestments of a cardinal, although the office did not exist in his lifetime.

He is seated before an open book, symbolizing his role as translator of the Bible from Greek into Latin, in the fifth century. S

aint Jerome’s translation is called the Vulgate and was in use throughout the Catholic Church for many centuries.

Portrait of Juan de Pareja” by Diego Velázquez

The Portrait of Juan by Diego Velázquez is a portrait of Velázquez’s enslaved assistant Juan de Pareja, who was owned by Velázquez at the time the painting was completed.

Velázquez painted this portrait in Rome while he was traveling in Italy. It is the earliest known portrait of a Spanish man of African descent.

Diego Velázquez, as the court painter to King Philip IV of Spain, was sent to Rome to purchase works of art for the King.

Velázquez brought with him Juan de Pareja, who served as an assistant and who was of Moorish descent. De Pareja (1606 – 1670 ) was born into slavery in Spain, but he became an artist in his own right, and he was freed in 1650, close to the time of this painting.

His 1661 work, The Calling of Saint Matthew, is on display at the Museo del Prado.

Camille Monet on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet

“Camille Monet on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet is an impressionist painting showing Monet’s first wife, Camille Doncieux (1847-1879), whom he depicted in many of his paintings.

The garden is in the Parisian suburb of Argenteuil, which was associated with the house where Monet, his wife, and young son Jean had lived since 1871. 

This garden, together with Camille, appears in many of Monet’s paintings depicting the pleasures of country life. 

However, this picture is invested with a more gloomy mood, because it was painted shortly after Camille received the news that her father had died.

 In her visible hand, she holds the letter with the message, and it is shown as a horizontal white brushstroke. The man has been interpreted as the messenger of death.

View of Toledo” by El Greco

“View of Toledo” by El Greco is one of only two surviving landscapes by El Greco and is among the most famous depictions of the sky in Western art.

El Greco’s expressive handling of color and form was unique in the history of art, and in this painting, he takes liberties with the actual layout of buildings that are re-arranged for effect.

The Council of Trent (1545 to 1563) had banned landscape painting, so this work is one of the first Spanish landscape painting of its time.

 “The Musicians” by Caravaggio

The Musicians by Caravaggio shows four boys in classical costume, three playing various musical instruments and singing, the fourth is dressed as Cupid, and reaching towards a bunch of grapes. 

Caravaggio seems to have composed the painting based on the studies of two key figures.

The central character with the lute has been identified with Caravaggio’s companion Mario Minniti, and the individual next to him and facing the viewer is possibly a self-portrait of Caravaggio. The cupid bears a strong resemblance to a boy he painted in two previous paintings.

The Death of Socrates” by Jacques-Louis David

The Death of Socrates by Jacques-Louis David depicts Socrates as the stoic older man in a white robe sitting upright on a bed; his right hand extended over a cup, the left hand is gesturing in the air. He is surrounded by his students and loyal followers, showing emotional distress.

The young man handing him the cup looks the other way, with his face in his hand. Another young man clutches the thigh of the older man begging Socrates not to take the poison.

An older man sits at the end of the bed, is Plato, his most famous student, and he is shown slumped over and looking in his lap.

 “The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

“The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder, depicts the harvest time, which most commonly occurred within August and September. 

This painting is one in a series of six works that represent different times of the year. As in many of Bruegel’s paintings, the focus is on peasants and their work. Some of the peasants are shown eating while others are harvesting wheat.

The depiction of eating and working was used to illustrate both the production and consumption of food. The painting shows the activities representative of the 16th-century Belgian rural life during the harvest period.

Numerous details have been carefully added to create a sense of distance; these include the workers carrying wheat through the clearing and the ships far away.

Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers

“Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers depicts an appealing image of a young woman artist in a white dress looking directly at the viewer. 

Initially, this picture was attributed to a male artist; however, modern critical research points to Villers painting this portrait. Today art historians argue that this painting is a self-portrait.

The Grand Canal, Venice” by J. M. W. Turner

“The Grand Canal, Venice” by J. M. W. Turner was painted on his second visit to Venice, probably in 1833, and depicts the Grand Canal of Venice. Turner created a series of views of the city that displayed his interest in capturing a scene through the lens of his Romantic sensibility.

Turner was the master in portraying nature with dramatic light and color that permeates most of his paintings. This painting is renowned for the way the foundations of the palaces of Venice merge into the waters of the canal through subtle reflections.

This painting was shown in 1835 at the Royal Academy, where it was well-received as one of his: “most agreeable works.”

The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog)” by Claude Monet

“The Houses of Parliament” by Claude Monet is one in a series of paintings of the Palace of Westminster, home of the British Parliament, created during the early 1900s while Monet stayed in London.

All of the series’ pictures share the same viewpoint from Monet’s terrace at St Thomas’ Hospital overlooking the Thames and the approximate similar canvas size. They depict different times of the day and weather conditions.

Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne

“Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne is a portrait of the artist’s wife wearing a shawl-collared red dress seated in a high-backed yellow chair.

Madame Cézanne is placed in a spatially complex composition, which includes a mirror over the fireplace on the left and a richly colored heavy cloth on the right. 

The subject, Marie-Hortense Fiquet Cézanne (1850 – 1922), was a former artist’s model who met Cézanne about 1869; they had a son in 1872, and later married. Paul Cézanne painted 27 portraits, mostly in oil of her, and she became his most-painted model.

“The Siesta” by Paul Gauguin

“The Siesta” by Paul Gauguin depicts the grace and communal ease of Tahitian women. Gauguin made numerous changes to this composition that included changing the skirt of the woman in the foreground, which was initially red to the black color.

He also moved the figures in relation to each other to increase the relaxed feeling of the scene.

Venus and Adonis” by Titian

This version of “Venus and Adonis” by Titian is part of the  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY Collection. From the many versions of Titian’s original masterpiece, there are two basic types of composition the “Prado” and “Farnese” types.

The Prado type is the most common with three-dogs. The Farnese type has two-dogs and has a tighter crop on the subject and a wider shape, without most of the sky.

“La Grenouillère” by Claude Monet

“La Grenouillère” by Claude Monet depicts “Flowerpot Island,” also known as the Camembert, and the gangplank to La Grenouillère, a floating restaurant and boat-hire on the Seine at Croissy-Sur-Seine.

He was accompanied by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, who also painted the scene at the same time. This Claude Monet sketch captures his experience of fleeting visual effects or impressions that changed from moment to moment.

These sketches were an essential step towards Impressionism.

“Oedipus and the Sphinx” by Gustave Moreau

“Oedipus and the Sphinx” by Gustave Moreau depicts Oedipus meeting the Sphinx on his journey between Thebes and Delphi. Oedipus must answer the Sphinx’s riddle correctly to pass.

Failure means his death. Oedipus was the first to answer the riddle correctly, and, having heard Oedipus’ answer, the Sphinx was astounded and killed herself by throwing herself into the sea.

Oedipus thereby won the freedom of the Thebans, the kingdom of that city, and a wife Jocasta, who it was later revealed was his mother. 

Unlike Ingres’ version, where Oedipus appears as the dominant figure with the Sphinx on the defensive and partly obscured, in Moreau’s version, the Sphinx is on the offensive.

Art critics have given the intense gaze shared between the two many psychological interpretations.

“Diana the Huntress” by Giampietrino

“Diana the Huntress” by Giampietrino depicts the goddess of the hunt drawing an arrow. Diana is portrayed before a dense bank of trees with a delicate deer beside her.

The artist was a faithful Milanese pupil of Leonardo da Vinci and copied Leonardo’s so-called Standing Leda to show the Diana in a contrapposto stance, with one hip back and the opposite foot forward. 

Giampietrino seems to have carved a niche for himself with the depiction of female heroines of mythology and Roman history.

Inspired by Leonardo’s two “Leda and the Swan” compositions, which are both lost, the female figures are generally shown nude and, often, full length and set in a landscape.

“Ovid among the Scythians” by Eugène Delacroix

“Ovid among the Scythians” by Eugène Delacroix depicts the imagined circumstances in the life of the Ancient Roman poet Ovid who was exiled by Emperor Augustus to the Black Sea port of Tomis.

Tomis was at that time part of Scythia, and it is where Ovid spent his last eight years writing his last poems. The Scythians were an ancient Iranian people whose way of life was described by Herodotus as “nomadic” and Ovid himself called them a “wild tribe.” 

The theme of civilization confronted with barbarity imagines the life of one of Rome’s most cultured men amongst the barbarous people. In this portrayal, Delacroix shows the Scythians treating the poet with sympathy and curiosity. 

The wildness and the misunderstood genius were basic ideas explored in Romanticism. This painting is one of several late paintings in which Delacroix returned to themes he had previously developed in his decorative works.

“Ovid among the Scythians” is the title of two oil paintings by Delacroix. This version was painted a year before his death, in 1862, when he returned to a theme that had captured his imagination.

“Whalers” by J. M. W. Turner

“Whalers” by J. M. W. Turner depicts a whaling ship and her whaleboats pursuing a whale. The sperm whale appears to be wounded, thrashing in a sea of foam and blood.

The whale is alive in color while in the background is a ghostly white three-masted whaling vessel. Turner was seventy years old when be completed “Whalers” for the Royal Academy exhibition of 1845.

Turner undertook the painting, for a collector who had made his fortune in the whale-oil business. The painting was returned to him, and it had mixed critical reviews. As in other regards, Turner was ahead of his time in how he perceived the business of whaling.

“Picture Gallery with Views of Modern Rome” by Giovanni Paolo Panini

“Picture Gallery with Views of Modern Rome” by Giovanni Paolo Panini is the name given to each of three almost identical paintings by the celebrated Italian artists in the 1750s.

The picture gallery consists of a large number of paintings of buildings, monuments, and sculptures in Rome during the time that Panini painted this painting.

It is not a depiction of an actual gallery but rather an extravagant souvenir commissioned by the French ambassador to the Vatican to commemorate his stay in Rome.

The original painting shows the arrangement commissioned by the Count of Stainville. He was the ambassador to Rome from between 1753 and 1757.

MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection

Reclining Nude” by Amedeo Modigliani

“Reclining Nude” by Amedeo Modigliani is one of the dozens of nudes created by Modigliani in a modern style characterized by elongation of faces and figures that echo precursors such as Titian, Goya, and Velázquez.

However, Modigliani’s figures differ significantly in the level of raw sensuality they transmit.

Unlike depictions of female nudes from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century, where female nudity is couched in mythology or allegory, this series of paintings are without any such context, highlighting the painting’s eroticism.

Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love II)” by Wassily Kandinsky

Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love II) by Wassily Kandinsky (also spelled Vasily) is an expressive abstract that is independent of forms and lines.

It depicts three sets of embracing couples surrounded by serpentine shapes. One of the embracing couples is to the left of the sun in the center of the painting. A green and red pair are positioned on top of the sun.

The bottom right, a black figure is on top of a white figure. The painting’s subject is indicated in the subtitle “Garden of Love II,” which is a reference to biblical Eden.

Jeanne Hébuterne” by Amedeo Modigliani

“Jeanne Hebuterne” by Amedeo Modigliani depicts the artist’s partner, who was also his most frequent portrait subject.

Her white chemise suggests modesty while hiding her pregnancy. In this painting, Jeanne’s elongated face and highly simplified features derived from Modigliani’s study and fascination with Egyptian, African, and Oceanic sculpture.

The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne

“The Card Players” by  Paul Cézanne is one in a series of five oil paintings by the French Post-Impressionist artist painted during Cézanne’s final periods in the early 1890s. 

This version is composed of four figures, featuring three card players at the forefront, seated at a table, with one spectator behind. Cézanne added the spectator and the pipes on the wall to give depth to the painting.

There is tension in the way the various players are contrasted by color, light and shadow, the shape of hats, and the clothing all representing confrontation through opposites.

Bathers” by Paul Cézanne

Bathers by Paul Cézanne is a reinterpreting of a historical tradition of painting nude figures in the landscape by famous artists such as Titian and Poussin.

Historically artists took inspiration from classical myths. Cézanne, however, was not depicting a mythological story. He was more concerned with the harmony of the figures to the landscape. 

When this painting was exhibited in 1907, it became an inspiration for Picasso, Matisse, and other artists who were exploring and developing new art movements.

‘Bathers’ is reminiscent of earlier artist’s works, and comparisons can be made with more modern works such as Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

MET Greek and Roman Art Collection

Statue of a Kouros

This marble statue of a Kouros or youth is one of the earliest sculptures of a human figure carved in Athens from 590–580 B.C.

The statue was used to mark the grave of a young Athenian aristocrat. Kouros means youth, or boy, especially of noble rank, in ancient Greek.

Amathus Sarcophagus

This marble statue of a Kouros or youth is one of the earliest sculptures of a human figure carved in Athens from 590–580 B.C.

The statue was used to mark the grave of a young Athenian aristocrat. Kouros means youth, or boy, especially of noble rank, in ancient Greek.

Mycenaean Terracotta Female Figures

This marble statue of a Kouros or youth is one of the earliest sculptures of a human figure carved in Athens from 590–580 B.C.

The statue was used to mark the grave of a young Athenian aristocrat. Kouros means youth, or boy, especially of noble rank, in ancient Greek.

The Egyptian Art Collection

The Temple of Dendur

The Temple of Dendur is an Ancient Egyptian temple, constructed in 10 B.C. by the Roman governor of Egypt. The Temple is dedicated to Isis, Osiris, as well as two deified sons of a local Nubian chieftain. 

The Temple was gifted to the United States by Egypt in 1965, and it was awarded to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967 and installed in The Sackler Wing in 1978.

The gift was in recognition of the United States government’s help in saving many Nubian monuments from being submerged in the flooding of Lake Nasser through the Aswan Dam project.

Many monuments that were preserved were dismantled and moved to higher ground. The Temple of Dendur was disassembled and transported in over 660 crates to the U.S.

The Sphinx of Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut means “Foremost of Noble Ladies” was one of only two female pharaohs in Ancient Egyptian history, who ruled as full Pharaoh not just as a regent for a younger male relative.

She is the first significant female ruler in documented history. Born in 1507 BC, Hatshepsut came to the throne of Egypt in 1478 BC.

Officially, she ruled jointly with Thutmose III, who had ascended to the throne the previous year as a child of about two years old. Hatshepsut declared herself king sometime between the ages 2 and 7 of the reign of her stepson and nephew, Thutmose III.

William the Faience Hippopotamus

This Egyptian faience hippopotamus from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt was discovered in a shaft associated with the tomb chapel of “The Steward, Senbi” at Meir, Upper Egypt, and dates from c. 1961 – 1878 B.C. 

This blue statuette may have held some religious significance, as the Hippopotamus was sometimes associated with one of the forms of the god Seth.

Black paint has been used to enhance the eyes and to decorate the body with lotus flowers, buds, and leaves symbolizing its natural surroundings of the Nile.

MET Asian Art Collection

Luohan – Yixian Glazed Ceramic Sculpture

This life-size, glazed pottery sculpture of a seated figure represents a Luohan, which is a Chinese term for an arhat, one of the historical disciples of the Buddha. As Buddhist tradition developed, the most important were regarded as almost bodhisattvas or fully enlightened beings, with a wide range of supernatural powers. The understanding of these Buddhist concepts has changed over the centuries and varies between different schools of Buddhism and different regions

Pillow with Landscape Scenes – Zhang Family Workshop

This porcelain pillow was made nearly 800 years ago by members of the Zhang family who are among the few potters and painters whose names are recorded in Chinese ceramic history. This pillow is richly decorated with a landscape showing four people among trees and mountains. The ownership of a porcelain pillow and the images on it attest to the person’s status in life and death. A Porcelain Pillow had multiple meanings within the bedroom, depending on its design. It also had significance and cultural purpose within a grave and the afterlife.  In the tomb, the porcelain pillow demonstrated the success and the worth to the ancestors in their earthly role.

Jar with Dragon

This storage Jar with Dragon painted with cobalt blue on a porcelain body was produced for the court. The painting depicts a mighty dragon whirling through clouds and sky. This mighty dragon face was popular in China in the early fifteenth century. It may derive from the Kirtimukha iconography, which translates to a “glorious face” that is found in Indo-Himalayan imagery.

MET Ancient Near Eastern Art Collection

Sumerian Standing Male Worshiper

This Standing Male Worshiper carved from gypsum alabaster is shown with clasped hands and a wide-eyed gaze. It was placed in a temple and dedicated to a Sumerian god, to pray perpetually on behalf of the person it represented.

This statue is one of twelve figures known collectively as the Tell Asmar Hoard, dating back to 2900–2550 BC and was discovered in 1933 at Eshnunna in eastern Iraq.

It is historically unique because it is one of a few definitive examples of the abstract style of Early Dynastic temple sculpture.

Head of a Beardless Royal Attendant – Eunuch

This relief fragment shows the head of a beardless male royal attendant, possibly a Eunuch. The attendant is depicted with a hairstyle typical for an Assyrian courtier and with a large earring.

Similar earrings with three projecting studs have been discovered in the royal tombs at Nimrud, where they are made of gold and set with colorful stones.

Human-Headed Winged Bull (Lamassu)

This Human-Headed Winged Bull is a Lamassu, which is an Assyrian protective deity, often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull or a lion, and bird wings.

The horned cap attests to its divinity, and the motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East. The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria as a symbol of power.

MET American Wing Collection

Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze

“Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze commemorates General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River with the Continental Army on the night of Christmas 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. 

The composition shows General Washington highlighted by the white clouds in the background, as his face is lit by the upcoming sun. The distant boats and dramatic sky all provide heroic depth to the painting.

Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent

“Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent shows a socialite named Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, an American expatriate who was married to a French banker.

The portrait shows a woman posing in a black satin dress with jeweled straps. The pale flesh tone of the subject contrast with her dark-colored clothing and background.

The model was who became notorious in Parisian high society for her beauty and rumored infidelities. Her beauty made her an object of fascination for artists.

Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt

“Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt depict a mother washing a child after getting up from his nap. The mother holds the child firmly and protectively while washing the child’s feet.

The right arm of the child embraces the mother’s neck and shoulder, while the other hand is used to balance its weight on the bed. The painting reflects the dignity of motherhood.

Cassatt’s artistic portrayal of women consistently reflected pride in the women’s role and the suggestion of a broader, more meaningful inner life.

Fur Traders Descending the Missouri” by George Caleb Bingham

“Fur Traders Descending the Missouri” by George Caleb Bingham is one of his most famous paintings, originally entitled, “French Trader, Half-breed Son.”

It reflects the reality of fur trappers and traders frequently marrying Native American women.

In Canada, the ethnic Métis people, who trace their descent to First Nations peoples and European settlers, have been recognized by the government as a distinct group with a status similar to First Nations.

The painting recalls a foundation era in American history, especially with the liberty cap worn by the older man and a cub seated at the end of the boat, secured by a chain.

The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer

“The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer shows a lone man in a dismasted rudderless boat struggling against the waves of the sea.

The marine theme was of interest to Homer for more than a decade as he often vacationed in Florida, Cuba, and the Caribbean. 

Homer crossed the Gulf Stream many times, and his trips usually inspired several related works. A visit to Nassau and Florida preceded this painting and being the year after the death of his father. It may be revealing his sense of vulnerability.

MET Islamic Art Collection

Blue Qur’an

This leaf is from the 600 paged Blue Qur’an, which is a one-thousand-year-old Fatimid Caliphate Qur’an manuscript in Kufic calligraphy.

Created in North Africa for the Great Mosque of Kairouan, also known as the Mosque of Uqba in Tunisia, it is written in gold and decorated in silver on vellum colored with indigo. It is among the most famous works of Islamic calligraphy.

Marble Jar of Zayn al-Din Yahya Al-Ustadar

This sizeable carved marble jar was used to store drinking water, intended for use at a Cairo mosque. 

The inscription on this jar states that it was an endowment by the amir Zain al‑Din Yahya al‑Ustadar, who served as steward and official during the reign of Sultan Jaqmaq (r. 1438–53) and later rulers of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt.

The Damascus Room

The Damascus Room is a residential winter reception chamber, called a “Qa’a” typical of the late Ottoman period. 

The Qa’a is a roofed reception room found in the domestic architecture of affluent residences of the Islamic world. It is the most common hall type in medieval Islamic domestic architecture.

They were used to welcome male guests, where they would sit on the raised platform. The Damascus Room is a winter Qa’a from Damascus, Syria.

MET Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas Collection

Benin Ivory Mask

This Benin Ivory Mask is a miniature sculptural portrait of the Queen Mother Idia of the 16th century Benin Empire.

The sculpture takes the form of a traditional African mask and features a beaded headdress and choker at her neck. The forehead shows ritual scarification highlighted by iron inlay on the forehead.

The mask is framed by the flange of symbolic beings and with heads representing the Portuguese, symbolizing Benin’s alliance with the Europeans.

 This type of hip-mask was worn by the King, on the hip, during important ceremonies. The mask has double loops at each side for attachment of the pendant.

African Face Mask – Kpeliye’ e

This African Face Mask, known as Kpeliye’ e, features an oval face with geometric projections at the sides.

Raised and incised scarification patterns ornaments the smooth, glossy wood surface. Considered a feminine mask, it honors deceased Senufo elders with finely carved traditional art. 

The feathers and animal horns attached to this example are unusual and may have reflected its owner’s specific powers and role in the community.

Sican Funerary Mask – Peru

This Sican Funerary Mask once adorned the body of a deceased ruler on Peru’s north coast. This mask was made of an alloy of gold (74%), silver (20%), and copper (6%), which was hammered into a flat sheet and shaped into the form of a facemask.

Cinnabar, a red mineral pigment, covers parts of this mask in the pattern of the face paint worn by the deceased person in life. Much of the red dye would have been removed in modern times to highlight the gold in the mask.

Ceremonial Axe – Papua New Guinea

This ceremonial axe has a greenstone blade and a carved wooden haft. The axe blade is made of polished stone sourced from a volcanic island and fitted into the slit axe’s head and wrapped with fibers to secure the blade in place.

The axe handle is made of red hardwood and carved in bas-relief with a serpentine motif known as mwata, a mythical snake. The axe’s knob at the very bottom of the handle has a traditional Massim carving stylized with an open mouth.

This Ceremonial Axe from the Massim region of southeast Papua New Guinea was highly prized.

The European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Collection

Hercules the Archer” by Antoine Bourdelle

“Hercules the Archer” by Antoine Bourdelle depicts Herakles bending his bow to shoot at the Stymphalian birds, a task which, according to the myths of Hercules, was one of the Six Labors of Hercules.

In Greek mythology, the birds were monstrous and used their sharp-pointed feathers as arrows, to kill men and beasts, and then devour them.

These horrible birds were infesting the woods surrounding the lake Stymphale, in Arcadia, a region of Greece. According to myth, Heracles shot the birds with feathered arrows tipped with poisonous blood from the slain Hydra.

Orpheus and Eurydice” by Auguste Rodin

“Orpheus and Eurydice” by Auguste Rodin depicts the ancient Greek legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. Rodin shows Eurydice’s spirit floating in the underworld as Orpheus hesitates and turns to see if his beloved is following.

An instant later, Eurydice will vanish as Orpheus broke Hades’s rule, to not look at his wife until they reached the light. This carved sculpture is the only marble example of this Rodin composition.

Perseus with the Head of Medusa” by Antonio Canova

Perseus, with the Head of Medusa by Antonio Canova, depicts the Greek mythological story of Perseus beheading Medusa, a hideous woman-faced Gorgon whose hair was turned to snakes and anyone that looked at her was turned to stone.

Perseus stands naked except for a cape hanging from his arm, sandals and a winged hat, triumphant with Medus’s snakey head in his raised hand.

“The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin

“The Burghers of Calais” by Auguste Rodin is one of his most famous sculptures. It commemorates a historical incident during the Hundred Years’ War, when Calais.

It is a prominent French port on the English Channel, which was under siege by the English for over a year and was forced to surrender.

The victors offered to spare the city if six of its leaders would surrender themselves and walk out wearing nooses around their necks, carrying the keys to the town and castle.

Spinario (Boy Pulling a Thorn from His Foot) by Antico

This beautiful statue is one of the few surviving examples of a Spinario by Antico. It is a small copy of the 3rd century B.C. bronze figure from the Capitoline Museums, Rome.

The composition is the same as that of the Hellenistic bronze, but Antico subtly animates the figure, conveying the boy’s tension as he performs his painful task.

Antico renders the piece, by gilding the boy’s curling hair and silvering his eyes. The Spinario became an ornament in high demand by lovers of Greco-Roman bronze sculptures.

The Medieval Art Collection at the MET

The Last Supper” by Ugolino di Nerio

“The Last Supper” by Ugolino di Nerio shows the scene of the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles, as it is told in the Gospel of John. 

This painting formed part of the predella, which is the lowermost horizontal part of a dismembered altarpiece.

In this scene, Christ, on the left, informs his disciples that one of them will betray him, a prophecy that was fulfilled by Judas, who is positioned at Christ’s right without a halo.

In this painting, we can also see how Ugolino explored how to paint perspective as seen with the ceiling and the table settings. Leonardo da Vinci was born over 100 years after this painting was made in Florence.

Plaque with the Journey to Emmaus and Noli Me Tangere

This ivory plaque shows the Journey to Emmaus and Jesus telling Mary Magdalene not to touch him or “Noli me tangere,” which is Latin for “Don’t Touch Me.”

According to the Gospels, Jesus appeared to his disciples several times after the Resurrection. Including on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

The top of this plaque shows the disciples lament the Crucifixion, while Jesus explains the redemptive nature of his sacrifice. The bottom of this plaque shows the scene where Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene, who when she recognizes him, he tells her not to touch him since the Ascension has not yet occurred.

Doorway from the Church of San Nicolò, San Gemini

The Doorway from the Church of San Nicolò, San Gemini, is an example of the reuse of materials during the life of medieval buildings, including churches.

All of the marble used to make this doorway originally came from the ruins of nearby Roman buildings. The doorway marbles displaying an array of styles and techniques; the principal elements were carved at different times in the eleventh century.

Lion Aquamanile – North German

This North German Aquamanile is in the form of a Lion. The lion was associated in the Middle Ages with Christ and was the animal most frequently employed for aquamanilia.

The vessel was filled through the opening at the top of the head, and water was poured from the spout in the mouth. 

Aquamanilia, from the Latin words meaning “water” and “hands,” served to pour water over the hands of priests before celebrating Mass and of diners at an aristocratic table.

Equestrian Knight Aquamanile – Lower Saxony

This Equestrian Knight Aquamanile in the form of a horse and rider exemplifies the courtly ideals of knighthood that permeated Western medieval culture.

The knight holds his feet thrust forward in the stirrups in contrast to the massive body and curves of the horse in this accomplished metalwork sculpture.

The type of armor depicted in this Aquamanile disappeared toward the third quarter of the thirteenth century. Knighthood iconography influenced luxury objects designed for the court.

The shield for this Equestrian Knight Aquamanile with a display the arms of the owner and the lance have been lost over the last 800 years.

MET Drawings and Prints Collection

Album of Tournaments and Parades in Nuremberg

The “Album of Tournaments and Parades in Nuremberg” is a 112-sheet manuscript which includes depictions of contestants equipped for tournaments called a “carousel.”

The manuscript shows a parade of participants in tournaments known as “bachelors’ jousts,” held in Nuremberg between 1446 and 1561. The depictions include pageant sleighs used in ceremonies.

The illustrations are the work of a letter painter, whose chief occupation was creating official documents and coats-of-arms.

Canvassing for Votes” by William Hogarth

“Canvassing for Votes” by William Hogarth is a print from a series of four oil paintings called “The Humor of an Election” that were later engraved, which illustrate the election of a member of parliament in Oxfordshire, England in 1754.

The oil paintings were created in 1755. This print demonstrates the corruption endemic in parliamentary elections in the 18th century, before the Great Reform Act.

Christ and the Woman of Samaria” by Rembrandt

“Christ and the Woman of Samaria” by Rembrandt depicts a scene of an old Bible tale from the New Testament. The Samaritan woman at the well is a figure from the Gospel of John.

In Eastern Christian traditions, she is venerated as a saint with the name Photine meaning “the luminous one.”

MET Costume Institute Collection

Bodice

This silk bodice from the 1770s is most probably from France and reflected the fashion of the period and the French style. 

A bodice covered the body from the neckline to the waist and was a fashionable upper garment typical in Europe during the 16th to the 18th century.

The term comes from a pair of bodies because the garment was initially made in two pieces that fastened together, often by lacing. The bodice was different from the corset of the time because it was intended to be worn over the other garments.

Cardinal Cape

This Cape form was a popular item of dress in the American colonies from the time of the early settlers. This cape is called a “cardinal” because of its color.

It is made of a tightly woven wool cut on the bias and left with a raw edge along the hem. The hooded cape is gathered in a circular shape at the back to stand high without crushing the coiffure underneath.

By the late 18th century, cardinals could be bought ready-made in England.

Doublet

This doublet is from the 1620s made of luxurious silk embellished with pinking and decorative slits. Pinking, or the intentional slashing of fabric, was a favorite decorative technique used to show colorful linings and shirts.

The doublet had a long history of over 300 years with a variety of styles and cuts.

MET Arms and Armor Collection

Blade and Mounting for a Sword (Katana)

This katana is a Japanese sword with a curved, single-edged blade with a circular guard and long grip to accommodate two hands.

The associated lacquered wood scabbard and sword is worn in a waist sash with the cutting edge facing up. A samurai could draw the sword and strike the enemy in a single motion.

Double-Barreled Flintlock Shotgun

This Double-Barreled Flintlock Shotgun is one of the richest and ornate firearms made after the Restoration of the monarchy in France in 1815.

Its decoration is reminiscent of the style fashionable before the French Revolution.

The owner prized this gun so much that he commissioned skilled gun makers to produce a similarly decorated set of barrels and locks using percussion caps, after a more advanced method of ignition were developed.

MET Photograph Collection

Loie Fuller Dancing

This photograph is of the American dancer Loie Fuller demonstrating her famous dance in which she manipulates with bamboo sticks an immense skirt made of over a hundred yards of translucent, iridescent silk.

Loie Fuller (1862-1928) was an actress and dancer who was a pioneer of both modern dance and theatrical lighting techniques. This early photograph captures shapes reminiscent of chalices and butterflies.

It was taken in the middle of an urban park and is part of a group of pictures attributed to Samuel Joshua Beckett, a photographer working in London.

Sala Delle Statue, Vatican

This photograph shows the  Gallery of Statues (Sala Delle Statue) at the Vatican, taken over 150 years ago. James Anderson (1813–1877) made this photograph in the 1850s using an albumen print from a glass negative.

Today this view at the Gallery of Statues, which is part of the Vatican Museum, has not changed substantially, most of these statues from 150 years ago can be seen in modern photographs of this gallery.

The Gallery of the Statues holds various famous statues, including Sleeping Ariadne, the bust of Menander, and The Chiaramonti Caesar.

Gardner’s Photographic Sketchbook of the War

This photograph by Timothy O’Sullivan shows a view of Union Army soldiers lined up in their morning guard mount in front of the camp. Behind the formation, soldiers are scattered among the tents and huts.

The barrel chimneys appear across the slope of the hill of the encampment. This photograph is titled Guard Mount, Head-Quarters Army of the Potomac, and was one of the pictures in Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War, Vol. II, American, 1865–1866.

MET Musical Instrument Collection

Ming-Dynasty Pipa

This Ming-Dynasty (1368 – 1644) Pipa is a four-stringed musical instrument, with a pear-shaped wooden body with several frets. The pear-shaped instrument may have existed in China as early as the Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE). 

The name “pipa” is made up of two Chinese syllables, “pí” (琵) and “pá” (琶). These refer to the way the instrument is played. “Pí” is to strike outward with the right hand, and “Pá” is to pluck in towards the palm.

Grand Piano

This Grand Piano is an acoustic, stringed musical instrument created by the first inventor of the piano Bartolomeo Cristofori from Italy. The piano was invented in 1700 with the innovation that hammers strike the strings.

The word piano is a shortened form of pianoforte, the Italian term for the early 1700s versions of the instrument. This piano, as built by Cristofori in the 1720s, has almost all the features of the modern instrument.

It differed in being of very light construction, lacking a metal frame; this meant that it could not produce an especially loud tone.

Bass Fluegel Horn in B-flat

This figure-eight Bass Fluegel Horn came into use in Austria and southern Germany during the 1840s. As Lombardy was part of Austria until 1857, Austrian models such as this one were made in northern Italy. 

The flugelhorn is a brass instrument pitched in B♭ , which resembles a trumpet but with a broader, conical bore.

The instrument is a descendant of the valve bugle, which had been developed from a valveless hunting horn known in eighteenth-century Germany as a Flügelhorn.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Museum:         Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET
  • City:                 New York City
  • Country:          United States of America
  • Established:     1780; Over 148 years ago
  • Locations:
    • The Met Fifth Avenue:     1000 Fifth Avenue, New York City
    • The Met Breuer:                   945 Madison Avenue, New York City
    • The Met Cloisters:              99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan, New York City
  • Collection:       2 million works
  • Visitors:           7 million annually

The History of The MET

The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City, commonly referred to as “the Met,” is the largest art museum in the United States. Its official history began when the New York State passed the Metropolitan Museum of Art an Act of Incorporation in 1870 for:”

“establishing and maintaining … a Museum and Library of Art, of encouraging and developing the Study of the Fine Arts, and the application of Art … and to that end of furnishing popular instruction and recreations”.

Later Legislation added the requirement that the Museums collections:

“shall be kept open and accessible to the public free of all charge throughout the year.”

The reason for this additional legislation was because founders wanted to make art and art education accessible to all the people.  The guiding founders included businesspeople as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day.

The museum first opened in 1872, after negotiations with the City of New York in which the Met was granted the land on Fifth Avenue, and between 79th and 85th Street Transverse Roads in Central Park.

A red-brick and stone building was designed in the High Victorian Gothic style. Within 20 years, a new architectural plan engulfing the first building was constructed.

Since that time, many additions have been made, including the distinctive Beaux-Arts Fifth Avenue facade, Great Hall, and Grand Stairway.

The wings that completed the Fifth Avenue facade were completed in the 1910s, followed in time by new wings and renovations, including the American Wing, Greek, and Roman Court, and recently opened Islamic Wing.

The Met now covers a length of almost 1⁄4-mile (400 m) long and with more than 2,000,000 square feet (190,000 m2) of floor space.

These dimensions are more than 20 times the size of the original 1880 building. The museum building is a gradual accumulation of over 20 re-structures, most of which are not visible from the exterior.

The museum’s main building was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The City of New York owns the museum building and contributes to some of the costs.

In 2018, the museum announced that the century-old policy of free admission to the museum would be replaced by a new admission policy that would need a charge of $25 to out-of-state and foreign visitors to the museum.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 to bring art and art education to the American people. It first opened in 1872 and was originally at 681 Fifth Avenue.

Departments of the MET

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is organized into departments as follows:

  • European Paintings
  • Ancient Near Eastern Art
  • Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
  • Asian Art
  • Egyptian Art
  • European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
  • American Wing
  • Greek and Roman Art
  • Islamic Art
  • Drawings and Prints
  • Costume Institute
  • Arms and Armor
  • Medieval Art
  • The Cloisters Museum
  • Modern and Contemporary Art
  • Photographs
  • Met Breuer
  • Musical Instruments

(Note: The Metropolitan Opera in New York is also nicknamed “The Met,” so take care to avoid confusion when discussing the Met.)

Tips for visiting the MET

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET  is visited by over seven million people every year.  The main building is on the eastern edge of Central Park in Manhattan.

A second smaller location, The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, has an extensive collection of art and architecture from Medieval Europe.

The third location is called the Met Breuer museum on Madison Avenue on the Upper East Side; its focus is the MET’s modern and contemporary art program.

Before your visit, please check the museum’s website to confirm hours of operations.

The MET Fifth Avenue

  • 1,000 5th Avenue, New York City

The MET Breuer

  • 945 Madison Avenue, New York City

The MET Cloisters

  • 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, Manhattan, New York City

Tips for visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Avoid Peak Times

The Met is open seven days a week, and weekday mornings usually are the least crowded time. Avoid holiday travel season. Late-night options should also be considered for the nights that the museum has extended hours. 

Before your visit, please check the museum’s website to confirm hours of operations.

Admission Fees

‘Pay What You Wish Admission’ is ONLY For NY/NJ/CT Residents. This policy changed recently; previously, it was by donation for everybody. Now everyone else has an admission fee. Explore the options for the many N.Y. visitor passes.

Photography Policy

Photography is not permitted in special exhibitions or other areas designated “No Photography.” The use of flash photography is not allowed inside the Museum.

Where to Start

The entrance to Met leads to the Great Hall, which then provides a choice of three directions: left to Greek and Roman Art, right to Egyptian Art, or forward to Medieval art.

Alternatively, collect a map from information and head to one of the galleries in the periphery of the museum that is of specific interest to avoid the crowds and photograph without other people in your masterpiece picture.

Tours

Take advantage of the Met’s multiple daily guided tours. The guided tours focus on the highlights of specific collections and can provide useful insights.

Best places to take Photos

  • Temple of Dendur
  • Velez Blanco Patio
  • Astor Chinese Garden Court
  • The Glass-enclosed American Wing Court
  • The European Sculpture Court
  • The Great Hall
  • The Rooftop Garden
  • The Water Fountains outside in front of the Museum

Just-in-time-Information

Use the Free wi-fi to download the “Joy of Museums” book on the MET.

Warning

You will not be able to see the whole museum in one day and also spend quality time exploring key highlights. Plan for breaks and multiple visits. Don’t forget to see the MET Cloisters.

What You Should Bring

  • A Camera
  • Bottle of Water
  • A Tablet or Mobile with the “Joy of Museums” Guide

HIGHLIGHTS TOUR of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the MET)

The Cloisters Museum and Gardens of the MET

MetCollects — Video Episodes

~~~

“The Metropolitan Museum of Art is unsurpassed at presenting more than 50 centuries of work.
I go there constantly, seeing things over and over, better than I’ve ever seen them before.
– Jerry Saltz

~~~


Photo Credit: By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (Outside the Metropolitan Museum Of Art) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Popular this Week

Kritios Boy
National Archaeological Museum, Athens
Museums, Art Galleries & Historical Sites
Imaginary Gallery of Ancient Roman Art by Giovanni Paolo Panini
Antikythera Mechanism
Artemision Bronze
Moschophoros - The Calf Bearer
Tutankhamun's Mask
Ancient Historical Artifacts

SEARCH