New York City has long been a prime mover and a recognized leader in the development of the arts, not just in the United States but in the entire world. Nearly everywhere you go when you visit New York City, you will definitely bump into a place or an establishment that is dedicated to the arts, whether to music, the visual arts or performance arts. In Manhattan alone, there is a spot along Fifth Avenue at Carnegie Hill and near Central Park that is called the Museum Mile. At this Museum Mile. At this Museum Mile is located one of the largest and finest art museums in the world, which is none other than the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, often spoken of simply as “The Met,” is a very popular tourist attraction in New York City. Every year, the Met entertains visitors numbering to approximately five million, all coming from different parts of the world. These visitors come to the Met to see its collection of around two million paintings and pieces of sculpture. This collection is very eclectic, sourced from different parts of the world and amply representing different world cultures across different time periods.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art first opened its doors to the public on February 20, 1872, under the guardianship of its founding superintendent, George Palmer Putnam, and its first president, John Taylor Johnson, whose personal art collection became the first contents put up for exhibit at the Museum. The aim of the museum is to make art and art education available to the American people.
Soon after, on 1873, with the support of the leading businessmen and creative minds of the time, the Met was able to expand its collections, which necessitated them to vacate their present premises and relocate to a larger site. After acquiring land from the City of New York, the Met established its permanent home, a Gothic Revival edifice that is nearly a quarter of a mile long, with floor space of two million square feet.
What can you expect to see when visiting the Met? Below are some of the permanent collections of the Met:
The American Decorative Arts
- . This collection displays 12,000 pieces representing American decorative art, including furniture, silverware, textiles and ceramics from the late seventeenth century to early twentieth century.
European Paintings. Though containing only 2,200 pieces, the European paintings collection is the prize of the Met. It contains easily recognizable works, if not the best works, of the Old Masters, such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Monet.
Asian Art. The Asian art collection of the Met is the largest and said to be the most comprehensive that is found in the West. The entire collection is housed in its own wing and contains not just decorative pieces but also items that had functional uses.
Egyptian Art. The Egyptian art collection is an assortment of bequests and gifts to the Met, as well as items discovered in Egypt through the Met’s own excavations in the early 1900s. There are around 36,000 items on display in this collection, the greatest prize of which is the reconstructed Temple of Dendur.
Lovers of art who are visiting New York City should allot a day or two exploring the wings of the Met. It should not be missed.