An early architectural contribution to the NYC Met was the Temple of Pernab (1913) which was removed from near the Tomb of Djoser, one of the step pyramids at Saqqara. The worn labyrinth of partially restored stones is less impressive than the Temple of Dendar, but worthwhile nevertheless. Also in the Egyptian North wing of the First Floor are hallways of reproduced copies of papyrus pages from the Egyptian Book of the Dead and other recovered documents too fragile to display in a museum.
New York City residents shouldn't flatter themselves too greatly, after all their collection of Egyptian antiquities certainly doesn't substitute well for a trip to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. But, the Cairo museum regularly loans NYC artifacts, and the NYC Met has a pretty good collection of its own, some of which were found by NYC Met sponsored digs, some of which are looted works recovered from private collections. The emphasis in this part of the museum is as much on education as on display of art.
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.