About The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – also known as the Met – in New York is one of the most famous art museums in the world, exhibiting pieces spanning over eight thousand years of history. From prehistoric art and that of the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans to medieval works, Asian art and art of the Americas, the Met explores ancient and historical cultures through their artwork.
History of the Met
The museum was founded in 1870 with the express purpose of “establishing and maintaining in said City a Museum and Library of Art, of encouraging and developing the Study of the Fine Arts, and the application of Art to manufacture and natural life, of advancing general knowledge…, and furnishing popular instruction and recreations.” The collections were also to be free of charge and open to the city’s inhabitants year round. Founders included notable businessmen of the time – Theodore Roosevelt Sr was one of these such men.
The long-awaited museum opened 2 years later, in February 1872. The Met’s collections quickly outgrew the initial space they had at 681 Fifth Avenue, moving to the Douglas Mansion at 128 West 14th Street following the acquisition of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriot antiquities.
The Met’s existing building, 1000 Fifth Avenue, was originally completed in High Victorian Gothic style, but was transformed in the early 20th century into its distinctive Beaux-Arts façade that is still seen and loved today.
The famous Costume Institute joined the Met in 1946, and remains one of its biggest draws – the museum hosts its annual Gala, in which the rich and famous are invited to attend in outrageous costumes designed around a designated theme. Its exhibitions are some of the Met’s most popular. Between 1976 and 1979, the Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibition was hosted by the Met, with over 8 million visitors attending.
The Met today
Containing an incredibly diverse and comprehensive collection, if you’re short of time it’s worth paying a little extra to join one of the Met’s guided tours – they give you a comprehensive overview of the museum or one of its collections, depending on what you’re interested in.
Collections are broadly organised by geography, with major collections of European, Asian, Egyptian, Oceanic and American art. Some of these are then
Entry isn’t cheap, but your tickets work for both the main Met gallery, and its offshoot, the Cloisters – you’ll get entry for both for 3 consecutive days. The Met gets extremely busy at weekends, so they’re best avoided if possible.
If you’re visiting between April and October, be sure to visit their gorgeous roof terrace, which has a rotating sculpture exhibition and excellent bar for a tipple as the sun sets over the city.
Getting to the Met
The Met is located at 1000 Fifth Avenue on the East Side of Central Park. It’s pretty hard to miss if you’re in New York: the nearest subway stations are 86th and 77th Street respectively: both are about a 10 minute walk from the museum. Otherwise, you can walk from anywhere in the Upper East Side or hail a cab if New York’s somewhat confusing metro system is too much of a challenge.
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