“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” ~ Pablo Picasso
One of the draws of New York City is that their are literally a gazillion museums exhibiting a wide range of art. Every time I think of leaving, I am always drawn back because of the abundance of culture the Concrete Jungle exhibits. One of the most iconic, is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Or the Met as it is known.
The largest Museum in the United States, as well as one of the most visited in the world, it opened in 1872 as a way to bring art to the American people. The building itself is iconic with the famous front Fifth Avenue entrance having been built in the Beaux Arts style giving it a Neoclassical European flare. It isn’t just a requisite tourist destination, but one that every day New Yorkers, including celebrities, love going too.
The Met has over seventeen curated departments over seeing a vast array of exhibits. This a museum that really does have something for everyone. You could spend the whole day there and still not experience everything. Luckily I narrowed it down to my five favorite exhibits for you to see.
Temple Of Dendur
By far my most favorite part of the museum is the Temple of Dendur which is located in the Egyptian wing. While the temple itself is impressive, having been dismantled in 1965, transported across the ocean, and finally (finally!) reassembled in 1978, the room it resides is what beckons me to visit.
With a moat around the temple, one wall is completely made out of glass, not only making the room light and airy, but giving stunning views of Central Park and the city. It is a place I love to go to just sit and reflect.
And of course I always have to take the requisite picture and even…gasps a selfie!
or a selfie of a selfie….
Greek and Roman Gallery
Another exhibit I love and which dates back to the founding of the Met, is that of the Greek and Roman gallery, which just so happens to be located on the opposite side of the Egyptian wing. With over 17,000 artifacts, there is always something new to discover. It is also another place I love to just sit and reflect. The contrasting white and dark marble makes for a bright and airy space.
In fact much like the Egyptian exhibit, it is an amazing display of talent, creativity and ingenuity in a time when many artists could only use hand held tools as they worked marble and granite into stunning sculptures. I am always amazed at how even during such a primitive period when they didn’t have drills or excavators, they were able to create such beauty.
Located in a tiny corner of the Met on the first floor nestled between the Greek and Roman and the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, exhibits case, is the small but no less stunning Fabergé collection. As a Russian history major, I have read countless books on Fabergé and the tradition of Imperial Easter Eggs being gifted to the tsaristas from the tsars.
Based on records it was Alexander III who originally commissioned from atelier Peter Carl Fabergé the tradition of an Easter egg which was kept up when his son and heir assumed the throne. Out of the fifty eggs created for the Imperial family, the Met owns three.
Each egg would take over a year to make and is a display of opulence and artistic detail. Fabergé left nothing unfinished. Each egg also had a hidden compartment which would open up to reveal a small gift. Sometimes another egg, or figurines, many times portraits of locations or people special to the tsarinas.
As a renown jeweler, Fabergé created many luxurious items, from hair brushes, to necklaces, to figurines which are also on display at the Met.
The Lady in Blue
As a museum the Met has a variety of paintings to see, from Impressionism, to Modern Art, to the Renaissance you will see many paintings which have been featured in Art History Books. But there is one painting in particular that I have to visit each time I go. I always call her the “Lady in Blue,” but the portrait is simply titled Princesse de Broglie.
Painted by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, a famous french neoclassical artist known for his portraits, the painting was commissioned by the model’s husband. The innate detail Ingres gives the painting is truly stunning. He not only captures the shy beauty of De Broglie, but the attention to detail brings her dress and surroundings to life. I always want to reach out and touch the lace on her dress, and feel the velvet of the chair she sits in. This painting is also a symbol of love. Shortly after it was finished, Pauline passed away leaving her grieving husband to cover the painting for years. It remained in the de Broglie family until a collector acquired it and then gifted it to the Met.
I have written at length about the Costume Institute and the exhibits it puts on every year, most notably the one in the Spring where the Met also hosts a huge Gala. Featuring a new designer and theme it is a fashionista’s paradise! You can read about the Art of the In-Between and last years Manus X Machina.
Have you been to the Met? What is your favorite exhibit? What is your favorite type of art you like to see?