The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as “The Met,” in New York City is arguably the best art museum in the United States. Founded in 1870, the Museum continues to expand as it collects more and more artwork. This past April, 2020, The Met turned 150 years old.
Published in 1967, the children’s novel, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler won the prestigious American children’s literature award, the Newbery Medal, in 1968. E. L. Konigsburg’s beloved book is about two siblings who decide to run away and live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. During my visit to The Met, it did not take me long to want to live there too.
Reminiscent of The British Museum in London, The Met’s collection ranges from ancient archaeology to modern art. Unfortunately, because the Museum is so large, I was only able to see a small portion of it. I was especially sad that I was unable to see The Met Cloisters, which is a separate building that opened in 1938 and displays Medieval European architecture and replicated Medieval gardens. In 2016, the Met opened a third building called The Met Breuer, which solely displays modern and contemporary art.
One of the highlights that I saw during my visit to The Met were its Period Rooms in the American Wing. These recreated rooms provide you a peak into what certain rooms, such as a bedroom or dining room, would have looked like during different periods of American history. Items in these rooms include furniture and lamps from varying periods. Another section of The Met, similarly, recreates historic European rooms.
Unfortunately, I did not have time to go through these, but The Met has a Greek and Roman Art section, an Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas section, an Egyptian Art section, an Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia section, an Asian Art section, a Photographs section, and many other sections. However, I did get to briefly go through the European Paintings, 1250-1800 section and The American Wing. As I went through them, I surprised myself by recognizing many of the paintings, which are obviously famous if I immediately recognized them.
I spent most of my time in the Ancient Near Eastern Art section. As its name implies, it has archaeological objects from the Ancient Near East (the Middle East today). The Met purchased some of these objects, received some as gifts, and acquired other by participating in archaeological digs. Some of the objects that were acquired from England were dug by Sir Max Mallowan, a British archaeologist from the 20th century, and husband of the famous mystery writer, Agatha Christie.
Because The Met is so large, visitors have the option of taking guided or audio tours. I am not 100% sure, but I think the guided tours are part of admission, but the audio tours are an additional fee. The audio tour is available in up to ten languages. The Met also offers tours, for a fee, to a select number of visitors prior to opening to the public each day.
I want to mention that The Met has a research library, which primarily serves staff members and students.
The Met is currently closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, as of right now, it plans to reopen in August, 2020. Until then, The Met’s website provides detailed information about the items that it houses. It also provides a virtual tour through Google Arts & Culture.
Sources and Further Reading
“American Wing Period Rooms.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/curatorial-departments/the-american-wing/period-rooms (accessed June 20, 2020).
Gannon, Devin. “The Metropolitan Museum of Art Plans to Reopen in August.” 6SQFT. May 21, 2020. https://www.6sqft.com/the-metropolitan-museum-of-art-plans-to-reopen-in-august/ (accessed June 20, 2020).
“History of the Museum.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-met/history (accessed June 20, 2020).
Konigsburg, E. L. From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. New York: Atheneum Publishers, 1967.
“Maps.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://maps.metmuseum.org/ (accessed June 20, 2020).
“The Metropolitan Museum of Art.” Google Arts & Culture. https://artsandculture.google.com/streetview/metropolitan-museum-of-art/KAFHmsOTE-4Xyw?hl=en&sv_lng=-73.9624786&sv_lat=40.7803959&sv_h=100.63371660655334&sv_p=0&sv_pid=KeFx8oXHzeuY8L5rfepHaA&sv_z=0.9990314232325763 (accessed June 20, 2020).
“Thomas J. Watson Library.” The Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/libraries-and-research-centers/thomas-j-watson-library (accessed June 20, 2020).