New York, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Statue Gallery in the Greek and Roman Art section

 

Trip Taken: 2010

This post was my roadblock to keeping this blog updated. I loved my day at the Met, but I didn’t know how was I was going to tackle this huge monster. I took over a hundred photos here and it’s problematic to pare it down to a few choice photos. That being said, I eventually just started writing. It won’t be as detailed as I would have hoped it would be, but it’ll be a good teaser.

I wonder why there is no direct subway stop at the Met. Could it be that it was just poor urban planning or could it be that there is a huge underground vault that wouldn’t accommodate a subway stop right next to it. My bet is that it’s because the uber rich folk on the Upper East Side with apartments facing Central Park lobbied against it. So I got off a few blocks south of the museum and walked along Fifth Avenue to the museum.

Approaching the museum, I definitely felt like I was slowly reaching the golden palace of New York. This was the top destination on my list of things to do in New York City. The main entrance is actually a bit unassuming compared to the entrances of the Louvre or the British National Museum. But what treasure it holds just beyond the door.

Tour through Oceania, Hopper, and Bruegel the Elder

Degas ballerina

 

I had a pre-paid ticket so I got my little pin to show that I paid for my entrance beyond the checkpoint. The first thing I do whenever I enter a museum is to check what kind of guided tours they have that day. They’re usually free and led by enthusiastic volunteers whose passion makes for a good hour or so of museum exploration. As luck would have it, they do have guided tours and one was starting in just a few minutes with the meeting point in the Greek/Roman art section.

The tour guide was passionate about her pieces like I thought she would be. We passed through the statues and learned that the statues were all actually painted. They look like they do now because the paint has worn off. We also saw a replica of an English parlor, some interesting modern art paintings, and she ended in the Dutch masters gallery.

Two paintings she took a lot of time explaining were an Edward Hopper piece called ‘Table for Ladies’ and a Bruegel the Elder piece called ‘The Harvesters’. Edward Hopper is better known for his piece ‘Nighthawks’ (which is in a Chicago museum). Hearing the tour guide talk about the social context of this piece makes it come alive. If you look at the painting in a historical context, it shows the shift toward women working on their own. The title also shows that women are starting to have more mobility in that they can dine without a male companion. History in one painting.

‘The Harvesters’ is a painting that I have actually seen in textbooks before. The tour guide points out how masterful Bruegel was by dividing the sections of the painting to show different depictions of a work day. One section where workers are sleeping and another where they are working. It’s quite a beautiful painting and a good tour guide will help form a deeper connection.

Temple of Dendur

Temple of Dendur

 

The Temple of Dendur is probably the Met’s most famous piece, if not the most recognizable. It’s the area of the museum that is used most often in TV and film. Even if you don’t know the name, you’ll surely know the place by just looking at it. It is probably the centerpiece of the museum’s Egyptian collection and has an entire room dedicated to it. A lot of people use it as a place to relax and unwind. I did as well. The Egyptian section in the Met is huge and it’s nice there’s a pause right in the middle of it.

Tiffany Stained Glass

Tiffany stained glass

 

One of the best surprises of my trip to the Met is finding the stained glass windows made by Tiffany’s. Today they might be more well known for their jewelry and the Audrey Hepburn movie, but I was blown away by these beautiful piece of stained glass. If I had a house and was wealthy, then I would definitely want a replica of some of these pieces. Maybe not so Gothic in its presentation but to have my rooms filled with this vibrant light would be brilliant. A lot of people walk right by these pieces. Maybe it has to do with the fact that it’s right next to a cafe, but it definitely caught my eye.

Big Bamboo

Bamboo installation

 

One of the special exhibitions was a rooftop bamboo installation that had a great view of Central Park. Unfortunately, when I arrived there, I didn’t realize you had to make an appointment to actually go on the bamboo structure. And it was too late to make one. I walked underneath the massive structure with the artists above me constantly working on the installation. The view of Central Park was worth the elevator ride up to the top of the Met.

Looking Back at The Met

Main Entrance from 5th Avenue

 

When I visit the Met again, I would take more time in the American Wing and Arms and Armor section. I only got to pass through them quickly as I was trying to see everything at once. Plus, I think I would have made an appointment to view the special exhibit on the roof.

A good friend told me a few months after I visited the Met that the twenty dollar admission fee is only recommended. The entrance price is actually just a donation. I could and probably would have paid less if I had known, but I don’t feel like I overpaid with my twenty dollars. It was a surreal experience to walk through the halls of the Met and I would gladly do it again when I’m back in New York.

Parting Words

This museum is huge and there is no question as to why it’s one of the most revered museums in the world. I could have come back the following day and still find something new to admire. Take your time and let the pieces speak to you.

Picture Gallery

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.