The Temple of Dendar, which was rescued from the rising waters of Lake Nasser, is fully reconstructed inside gallery 131 of the Sacklar Wing. This represents one of the best architectural achievements of the entire museum, IMHO.
During my 4th of July visit an Alexander McQueen fashion special exhibit was extremely popular. Long lines waited to see the macabre and spectacular garments and video displays of this designer who had committed suicide just a year before.
At the time of our visit on a holiday, the museum was short staffed and so the galleries for Rembrandt and other Dutch masters were closed. But, I took a telephoto shot of a Rembrandt self-portrait anyway. The NYC Met collection of Impressionist painters is outstanding, including a number of very famous paintings. Van Gough is a particular favorite of mine, but I was pretty weary by this time in the first visit, so I promise a better update later.
In a labyrinth of galleries within the American wing, whole rooms of furniture and decorate parts are recreated to educate the visitor about life during the post colonial period. Red Oak hardwood floor planking squeak authentically as one explores this part of the museum. Furniture made from first growth cherry and other hardwoods from once virgin forests remind the visitor of what cannot be reproduced today. Major classic American paintings are also on display here.
NYC Met has one of the world's greatest collections of American art beginning with colonial period pottery crafts and decorative arts and ending with early 20th century decorative art by Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright. Gallery 700 is a huge glass ceiling open space with statues and the facade of an American stone mansion. On a second level mezzanine, there is a translucent nature light filled displays of American blow glass, folk pottery, and 18th century silver. It's important to note for those Europeans reading this that despite the apparent similarity between 18th century American art and European efforts during the same period, American art early on develops a folk quality and association with nature that is quite unique and stunning. The craftsmanship and design of glass, ceramic, and silver objects are deceptively simple or irregular in shape.
I also ran into confusion between the medieval or renaissance art sections and the more recent European arts galleries. This area has a lot of traffic heading to the bathrooms or into special exhibits. For example, the Rodin bronze sculptures (a significant if smaller collection than my hometown San Francisco's Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum) and some larger European portrait paintings were displayed along a corridor that led into the popular Alexander McQueen fashion art special exhibit on loan from England. I promise to resort and expand these tips after future visits.
I frankly got somewhat confused by the layout and overlap of the European arts and sculpture that ranged from Italy to England, Poland to Spain. I'll need help locating on the museum map exactly where I found this wonderful Spanish or Italian era mezzanine and courtyard gallery of outstanding European sculpture, for example. Here I bumped into a tourist from Madrid trying out here photographic appreciation of the room recreated from European stone elements.
American wealth and prosperity has allowed the well endowed Met to successfully bid at auction for whole rooms of furniture, and even the walls themselves, from European palaces. I suppose that much of this was all so much junk for the European collector, at one time. Thus, this section resembled Hearst Castle in California, where wooden panels, and even stone from Europe were imported and reassembled to provide space for European sculpture and decorative arts. The collection of marble statues is impressive.
Surprisingly small, given the resident importance of such a collection, the Americas are represented by a hodge podge and random collection of a few early Peruvian textiles, Arctic Circle tribal wear, Southwestern pottery, and some Mayan ceramics. I didn't find any baskets or tribal wear from the tribes of the United States. Much of the collection is dimly lit, presumably for preservation purposes, but otherwise I was unimpressed. The DeYoung Museum has a finer collection of Mexican ceramics, and as I recall, the Amerind Foundation's collection in Arizona is more impressive as well. Maybe I missed something. I'll look more closely the next time I visit the Met.
I found the NYC collection of art from Africa worthy of recommendation but surprisingly small in scale. The collections of similar art in my hometown museums in San Francisco were comparable in the number and quality artifacts, for example. Nevertheless, note the priceless examples here, many of which were Rockefeller donations. The Ghana gold objects were particularly impressive. I have an anteloped horned mask similar to the one in the last photo among my own home collection, purchased during a trip to Mali.
John David Rockefeller traveled to Indonesia and Pacific Island areas in search of tribal culture and art which he ultimately amassed into a collection of considerable value. Thus, the 40,000 sq ft Rockefeller wing is dominated by ocean going tribal vessels and other artifacts in a well lit room.
The expansive and recently rebuilt Leon Levy and Shelby White Court (162) is studded with marble and bronze statues and columns, a central black reflecting pond filled with tourist coins as tribute, and a mezzanine of Etruscan art on the second floor (170-172). Prior to entry to the court is a stair and elevator lobby (160) with a substantial bronze of a nude warrior king, a favorite for tourist photographs, an object of debatable origin whose upper right hand probably held a spear. In any case, the courtyard also serves as center for surrounding galleries (163-169) of mostly Roman art inspired by Greek traditions. It's a substantial collection that resembles the efforts by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to retrieve and evaluate looted artwork, because the descriptions of many works are speculative in nature. Other aspects of the collection are genuine, in the sense that the objects came from sponsored archeological digs throughout the Mediterranean.
Turn immediately to the left past the ticket booth in the 82nd street entrance and one enters the Greek and Roman collection of antiquities. The arched and skylit hallway (150-153) is flanked by 8 smaller galleries (152 to 159) filled with substantial works covering thousands of years of period ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, and even architectural remnants. To the right galleries have windows and natural lighting for mostly early Greek ceramic and bronze art, while to the left are spot lighted display cases of mostly small stone cut artifacts from Minoan and other pre-Greek Mediterranean antiquity.
A relative late-comer founded in 1870, the NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most comprehensive collections of art from earliest antiquity to current era of any in the world. Although it's tempting to draw critical comparisons with collections in Europe, particularly in London and Paris, I would rather point out simply that this museum has 2 million square feet of familiar, exotic, and valuable paintings and objects found nowhere else. As the museum website claims, Its collections include more than two million works of art spanning five thousand years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe. The museum is so large that a single visit simply isn't possible, even for a general survey. I spent 5 hours on my first visit, and became so weary of my study that major collections on the second and third floors were at best simply walked through with a weary glance. This comprehensiveness of this museum is thus both its greatest advantage and greatest weakness. By putting such a wide variety of art under one roof, some collections are liable to be ignored or forgotten in some museum warehouse space. The building itself has been expanded several times and a glass roof built over what appear to be former garden areas.
The museum is closed on Mondays, except during holidays, so it was fortunate for me that on the July 4th on which I arrived, the Met Museum was open for normal business hours from 9:30AM to 5:30PM. On normal Fridays and Saturdays, the museum has extended hours to 9PM.
Arrival to the Museum is best by subway, since buses and subway trains converge in this area which is on the east side of Central Park--see website for details. There is a parking garage, the price parking in which will easily exceed the price of an adult admission for most visits--see website for details.
Despite the overwhelming amalgamation of building architecture, the meticulous and thoughtful effort shown in architecture and display of objects also reveals the museum to be very well endowed. Some of the world's wealthiest families have given substantial sums to this museum, allowing it to bring from all parts of the world treasured collections of palace furniture and even wood and stone walls from monasteries and tombs. Entrance fees are a tax deductible "recommended" donation, for adults being a substantial $25-, children and senior citizens being cheaper. So while the credit card swiping clerk and signs make the recommendation, remember also that this busy museum has a long list of major wealthy donors and so is not short of funding. So make whatever donation you can afford and be sure to clip the metal lapel button to show that you've paid.
Cameras are allowed although flash photography is not. Fortunately, many of the rooms are naturally lit by skylight windows, so photography is pretty easy. However, the low-E UV blocking windows do cause a polarizing blue cast on many objects, requiring slight adjustment of color either within the digital camera menu, or during photoshop editing.
Just returned from the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met yesterday. What a wonderful display of this genius's work. The flow of the exhibit may need some improvement, for example, it's only 1 way towards the exit but there are two sides to view so you are pretty much doing one side first in each room and then u turning back to look at the other side. I of course picked the busiest day to go, the first saturday. With all that aside, it was a very moving/inspiring display of the Mcqueen world. Some of the pieces are just beyond fashion. Where his mind took him to design some of the pieces was beyond comprehension. Alot of Philip Treacy headpieces on display of course and alot of the infamous shows like the Kate Moss hologram plus the recreation of the mirrored show Spring 2001 etc.
The compilation book at the end of the visit is worth a buy too at $45.