Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Outside the Metropolitan Museum Of Art (5893442271)

Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Today the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection includes over two million works divided among seventeen curatorial departments. It is a museum where every visit brings something new. This book will cover the key highlights of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) and provide background information to help you to better appreciate its many exhibits.

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 museum in the world. Its collection has over two million works of art from antiquity to modern times, consisting of paintings, sculptures, musical instruments, costumes, and accessories, and antique weapons and armour from around the world. Highlights include large gallery installations, ranging from first-century Rome through modern American design.

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


The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Museum:         Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City or The 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 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 which would need a charge of $25 to out-of-state and foreign visitors to the museum.

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


“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