METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
Petit Futé's opinion on METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
This museum, a true institution with its magnificent collection on ancient Egypt, is considered as the American Louvre.
You could spend a whole week visiting this huge museum. The main entrance, opposite 82nd Street, is crowned with large stairs. You can also use the basement entrance in front of 81st Street. Everything is said in the slogan of the Met: 5,000 years of Art or "5,000 ans d'Art"! This New York institution, the local equivalent of our Louvre, was founded in 1870 by a group of prominent citizens from the worlds of finance, industry and the arts. It was then a strange little building, of which we have a glimpse in Scorsese's film, The Age of Innocence. The museum occupies the equivalent of four blocks. It is said that it would take a lifetime to discover the nearly 2 million works of art preserved in the 18 departments of the Met over an area of more than 600 km², and another life to immerse oneself in their significance in space and time: the museum brings together art objects from 5,000 years of the most diverse civilizations (China, Far East, Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Rome, Africa, Oceania, Europe, Islamic world, America), from prehistory to the present day. The Metropolitan accumulated its treasures for 90 years before building the galleries to display them. In other words, a visit of a few hours, if you wanted to see everything (assuming it was possible), would be a marathon that would be almost absurd. However, the Metropolitan Museum, like the rest of America, lacks works from the pre-Raphaelite school! Another difficulty: given the quantity of works in the museum's possession, some collections are only visible according to a rotation schedule. The Met includes five major collections: Egyptian antiquities, primitive arts, medieval art, European and American painting. More than just an exhibition, it offers a real immersion. Within the museum itself, for example, a medieval church has been partially rebuilt, the interior of a room from the time of Louis XIV or Louis XVI, or a villa in Pompeii. In addition to the five major collections, there are also entire wings dedicated to modern art, musical instruments, weapons and armour, the art of Islam, ancient art of the Middle East, Greek and Roman art (the second largest collection in the world after the Athens museums), European sculptures, decorative arts, etc. From Egyptian statuary to Byzantine jewellery, from Florentine and Venetian paintings and porcelains to primitive treasures gathered in the Michael C wing. Rockefeller (opened after the death of Nelson Rockefeller's son in New Guinea in 1961), 18th and 19th century American artists with an impressive collection of French impressionist and post-impressionist painters, English, Flemish, Dutch, Spanish and Italian painters... You could spend your entire stay visiting this fortress set in Central Park. The museum is so large that you will never feel like an overflow of tourists (except when you have to queue at the entrance, of course). The rooms are large and traffic is easy. Among the works not to be missed are the statue of Auguste Rodin Les Bourgeois de Calais in the sculpture wing, Jackson Pollock's famous painting Rythme d'automne, Vincent Van Gogh's self-portrait with straw hat, Claude Monet's La Grenouillère, Egyptian funeral portraits, the Sphinx of Hatshepsut, the Byzantine galleries, Self-portrait in 1660 by Rembrandt, Diptyquepar Van Eyck, Portrait of the Princess of Broglie by Ingres, the sculpture Seated Couple in the African arts section, Gertrude Stein by Picasso, Cypress by Van Gogh, the Impressionists' collection... The highlight of the collection's show on ancient Egypt is the gigantic temple of Dendur (or temple of Isis), a real Egyptian temple commissioned by Emperor Augustus and built around 15 BC, not far from the city of Aswan. In 1965, Egypt donated the Nubian temple to the United States, and the structure of more than 800 tons was brought by boat to America, before being installed at the Met in 1978.
Knowing all this, you will have to make a very subjective choice before rushing headlong into the museum. It is better to choose on the plan according to whether you prefer Japanese weapons or impressionist painters. It is impossible to see everything, unless you want to devote the entirety of your stay to the museum. Before going out, be sure to check out the museum's art shops, which offer beautiful reproductions at affordable prices. And then the Roof Garden Café on the panoramic terrace on the fifth floor offers a very beautiful view of Central Park and New York (open from May to the end of autumn, depending on the weather, from 11am to 4.30pm from Monday to Thursday and Sunday, and Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 10pm), especially since in this outdoor space contemporary works of art are also on display during the summer months. In 2008, for example, Jeff Koons' metal balloons found their place there for a few months. Note that audio commentary in French is very disappointing, and is only interested in a very small number of works, we do not recommend it.
Information on METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
Open from Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 5.30pm, Friday and Saturday from 10am to 9pm. Price: 25 US$.
Members' reviews on METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
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