THE MET

MUSEUM

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's earliest roots date back to 1866 in Paris, France, when a group of Americans agreed to create a "national institution and gallery of art" to bring art and art education to the American people.

The lawyer John Jay, who proposed the idea, swiftly moved forward with the project upon his return to the United States from France.

The Met

150 years

of history

The Met presents over 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy.

The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City—The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters. Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online.

About The Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on April 13, 1870, "to be located in the City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts

the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction."

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on April 13, 1870, "to be located in the City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction."

Today, tens of thousands of objects are on view at any given time in the Museum's two-million-square-foot building.

History of the Museum

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's earliest roots date back to 1866 in Paris, France, when a group of Americans agreed to create a "national institution and gallery of art" to bring art and art education to the American people.

The lawyer John Jay, who proposed the idea, swiftly moved forward with the project upon his return to the United States from France. Under Jay's presidency, the Union League Club in New York rallied civic leaders, businessmen, artists, art collectors, and philanthropists to the cause.

The Met Breuer

On March 18, 2016, The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened The Met Breuer

The Breuer building has proved its status as a singular museum experience unlike any other, and remains one of the most recognizable modern icons in New York and one of the world's landmark arts buildings.

The Breuer building has proved its status as a singular museum experience unlike any other, and remains one of the most recognizable modern icons in New York and one of the world's landmark arts buildings.

History of the Building

When the great Bauhaus architect Marcel Breuer (1902–1981) received the prestigious commission to build a new museum of American art in New York in 1963, it was the beginning of one of the defining decades of the century. All over Manhattan, dizzying monuments to consumerism, television, and commerce were constructed in glass and steel.

5 Amazing Secrets

About the Met

The Met’s First Home
Was Not On Fifth Avenue

Now synonymous with its sprawling digs on Fifth Avenue, the Met didn’t actually get its start there. The museum was incorporated in 1870 by a group of forward-thinking financiers, philanthropists, and art enthusiasts, and opened two years later in a comparatively diminutive building at 681 Fifth Avenue. There it housed fewer than 200 European paintings and its first acquisition—a Roman sarcophagus that is still on view. But the collection grew while the building did not and the museum then briefly resided in the Douglas Mansion estate on West 14th Street until its Fifth Avenue home was completed in 1879.

An Ancient Egyptian Hippopotamus Named
William is the Museum’s Mascot

Though this blue statuette of a hippopotamus is undeniably adorable, for ancient Egyptians the gargantuan creature was a real threat even in the afterlife, liable to trample fisherman in the marshes of the Nile or those on the journey in the afterlife. This blue-glazed lotus-decorated little guy was found in the outer-workings of a tomb in Upper Egypt with three of its legs broken (now repaired), likely a measure to keep it from harming the deceased in the afterlife. William garnered his nickname in a 1931 humor magazine, which referred to him as an oracle. Ever since, he’s been the museum’s mascot of sorts—which has got us wondering about the mascots of other museums in the city.

The Museum is Home to a Resident Florist

The art is what’s meant to keep our attention, but sometimes visitors should stop and smell the roses (or whatever flowers are in the jaw-dropping bouquets) in the Great Hall of the Met. First things first: these towering floral displays are most certainly real and, since 2003, the hand behind these living still lifes is none-other than the Met’s in-house resident florist, Remco van Vliet.

The Met’s Original Fifth Avenue
Structure Is Barely Visible Today

In 1880, 10 years after it was incorporated, the museum opened its doors at its current location on Fifth Avenue and Central Park. But the building today would be unrecognizable. The Ruskian Gothic original was designed by Calvert Vaux (a designer of Central Park) and Jacob Wrey Mould and characterized by its red-brick facade. Expansions began soon after the building was completed, however (the earliest beginning as soon as 1888), and today almost all of the original structure has been encompassed by expansions. but for those eager to see a glimpse of what was, the west facade of the original building is still visible in the Robert Lehman Wing.

A Medieval Garden Awaits

As many visitors know, the Met sprawls beyond its Fifth Avenue location. It also encompasses the Cloisters in Fort Tyron park in northern Manhattan, and (for the time being) the Met Breuer, on 75th Street and Madison. Visitors to the Cloisters will be pleased to discover three gardens (each planted in 1938, the year it opened) based on Medieval gardening traditions. Among these the Bonnefont Cloister garden will especially appeal to any millennial witches out there—it runneth over with nearly 300 species of plant, many of which were used in Medieval times, for magic, as well as medicine, food, and artistic purposes. You’re not allowed to touch, but keep your eyes open for such potent plants as Deadly Nightshade.

The Met’s First Home
Was Not On Fifth Avenue

Now synonymous with its sprawling digs on Fifth Avenue, the Met didn’t actually get its start there. The museum was incorporated in 1870 by a group of forward-thinking financiers, philanthropists, and art enthusiasts, and opened two years later in a comparatively diminutive building at 681 Fifth Avenue. There it housed fewer than 200 European paintings and its first acquisition—a Roman sarcophagus that is still on view. But the collection grew while the building did not and the museum then briefly resided in the Douglas Mansion estate on West 14th Street until its Fifth Avenue home was completed in 1879.

An Ancient Egyptian Hippopotamus Named
William is the Museum’s Mascot

Though this blue statuette of a hippopotamus is undeniably adorable, for ancient Egyptians the gargantuan creature was a real threat even in the afterlife, liable to trample fisherman in the marshes of the Nile or those on the journey in the afterlife. This blue-glazed lotus-decorated little guy was found in the outer-workings of a tomb in Upper Egypt with three of its legs broken (now repaired), likely a measure to keep it from harming the deceased in the afterlife. William garnered his nickname in a 1931 humor magazine, which referred to him as an oracle. Ever since, he’s been the museum’s mascot of sorts—which has got us wondering about the mascots of other museums in the city…

The Museum is Home to a Resident Florist
The art is what’s meant to keep our attention, but sometimes visitors should stop and smell the roses (or whatever flowers are in the jaw-dropping bouquets) in the Great Hall of the Met. First things first: these towering floral displays are most certainly real and, since 2003, the hand behind these living still lifes is none-other than the Met’s in-house resident florist, Remco van Vliet.

The Met’s Original Fifth Avenue
Structure Is Barely Visible Today
In 1880, 10 years after it was incorporated, the museum opened its doors at its current location on Fifth Avenue and Central Park. But the building today would be unrecognizable. The Ruskian Gothic original was designed by Calvert Vaux (a designer of Central Park) and Jacob Wrey Mould and characterized by its red-brick facade. Expansions began soon after the building was completed, however (the earliest beginning as soon as 1888), and today almost all of the original structure has been encompassed by expansions. but for those eager to see a glimpse of what was, the west facade of the original building is still visible in the Robert Lehman Wing.

A Medieval Garden Awaits
As many visitors know, the Met sprawls beyond its Fifth Avenue location. It also encompasses the Cloisters in Fort Tyron park in northern Manhattan, and (for the time being) the Met Breuer, on 75th Street and Madison. Visitors to the Cloisters will be pleased to discover three gardens (each planted in 1938, the year it opened) based on Medieval gardening traditions. Among these the Bonnefont Cloister garden will especially appeal to any millennial witches out there—it runneth over with nearly 300 species of plant, many of which were used in Medieval times, for magic, as well as medicine, food, and artistic purposes. You’re not allowed to touch, but keep your eyes open for such potent plants as Deadly Nightshade.

SAHEL:

Art and

Empires on

the shores

of the Sahara

At The Met Fifth Avenue
UNTIL AUGUST 23, 2020

The exhibition bring together

an array of cross-disciplinary

perspectives on the material

From the first millennium, the western Sahel—a vast region in Africa just south of the Sahara Desert that spans what is today Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Nigerwas the birthplace of a succession of influential polities. Fueled by a network of global trade routes extending across the region, the empires of Ghana (300–1200), Mali (1230–1600), Songhay (1464–1591), and Segu (1640–1861) cultivated an enormously rich material culture.

Highlights include loans from the region's national collections, such as a magnificent ancient terracotta equestrian figure (third through eleventh century) from the Institut de Recherches en Sciences Humaines, University of Niamey, Niger; and a dazzling twelfth-century gold pectoral that is a Senegalese national treasure, from the Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire, in Dakar.

female figure

Exhibition Objects

Beads
Date unknown

Pair of Heads
3rd–11th century, excavated 1985

Pendant: Equestrian
19th century

Snake Head
3rd–11th century

Bracelet
3rd–11th century

Beads
Date unknown

Pair of Heads
3rd–11th century, excavated 1985

Pendant: Equestrian
19th century

Snake Head
3rd–11th century

Bracelet
3rd–11th century

Rayyane

Tabet Alien

Property

At The Met Fifth Avenue
UNTIL JANUARY 18, 2021

Examining the circuitous journey four of these reliefs took to arrive at The Met under the aegis of the World War II–era Alien Property Custodian Act, the presentation also highlights the very personal connection of the reliefs to contemporary artist Rayyane Tabet.

This exhibition tells the story of the ninth-century B.C. stone reliefs excavated in the early twentieth century at Tell Halaf, Syria and their subsequent destruction, loss, or dispersal to museum collections around the world.

Exhibition Objects

Orthostates, 2017–on going
Date: 2017

Orthostates, 2017–on going
Date: 2017

Orthostat relief: winged human-headed lion
Date: ca. 10th−9th century B.C.

Orthostat relief: seated figure holding a lotus flower
Date: ca. 10th−9th century B.C.

Orthostat relief: lion-hunt scene
Date: ca. 10th−9th century B.C.

Orthostates, 2017–on going
Date: 2017

Orthostates, 2017–on going
Date: 2017

Orthostat relief: winged human-headed lion
Date: ca. 10th−9th century B.C.

Orthostat relief: seated figure holding a lotus flower
Date: ca. 10th−9th century B.C.

Orthostat relief: lion-hunt scene
Date: ca. 10th−9th century B.C.

Photography’s

last

century

At The Met Fifth Avenue
UNTIL AUGUST 23, 2020

This exhibition will celebrate the remarkable ascendancy of photography in the last century, and Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee's magnificent promised gift of over sixty extraordinary photographs in honor of The Met's 150th anniversary in 2020. The exhibition will include masterpieces by the medium's greatest practitioners, including works by Paul Strand, Dora Maar, Man Ray, and László Moholy-Nagy; Edward Weston, Walker Evans, and Joseph Cornell; Diane Arbus, Andy Warhol, Sigmar Polke, and Cindy Sherman.

Exhibition Overview

The collection is particularly notable for its breadth and depth of works by women artists, its sustained interest in the nude, and its focus on artists' beginnings. Strand's 1916 view from the viaduct confirms his break with the Pictorialist past and establishes the artist's way forward as a cutting-edge modernist.

Walker Evans's shadow self-portraits from 1927 mark the first inkling of a young writer's commitment to visual culture; and Cindy Sherman's intimate nine-part portrait series from 1976 predates her renowned series of "film stills" and confirms her striking ambition and stunning mastery of the medium at the age of twenty-two.

Listen to an improvisational musical component written and produced for the exhibition by Icelandic composer Davíð Þór Jónsson.

Exhibition Objects

Trip to Florida with Jack Kerouac
1958

[Nude]
1958

Identical twins, Roselle, N.J. 1966
December 1966

Nude (Negative)
1927–29

Trip to Florida with Jack Kerouac
1958

[Nude]
1958

Identical twins, Roselle, N.J. 1966
December 1966

Nude (Negative)
1927–29

Arte del

mar: Artistic

Exchange in

the Caribbean

At The Met Fifth Avenue
UNTIL AUGUST 23, 2020
Exhibition Overview

Arte del mar ("art of/from the sea") explores the artistic exchange around the rim of the Caribbean Sea before the sixteenth century between the Taíno civilizations of the Antilles archipelago and their powerful peers on the continental mainland. Recent archaeological, ethnohistorical, and art-historical research has deepened our understanding of indigenous Caribbean concepts of ritual knowledge, ceremonial performance, and political power.

Artists in the region—which includes the modern Antilles archipelago and countries such as Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, and Honduras—sought to express the distinct force of their deities and ancestors, known to the Taínos as zemí   (or cemí), which pervaded the environment and was crucial to the foundation of communities.

Pendants and other objects worn and used by leaders in ceremonies were created from imported luxury materials and share a formal grammar that is inextricably linked with deeply rooted mythological narratives.

Works of art on view in the exhibition, largely drawn from The Met collection, celebrate the region's ancestral traditions, and a twentieth-century painting by an Afro-Caribbean artist explores their enduring legacy.

Exhibition Objects

Trophy Head Pendant
4th–7th century

Bird Pendant
4th–7th century

Eagle Pendant
11th–16th century

Flying Panel Metate
1st–5th century

Trophy Head Pendant
4th–7th century

Bird Pendant
4th–7th century

Eagle Pendant
11th–16th century

Flying Panel Metate
1st–5th century

art of

native

america

At The Met Fifth Avenue
OCTOBER 4, 2018–JANUARY 26, 2021

The exhibition is made possible by

The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, the

Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund

This landmark exhibition in the Museum's American Wing showcases 116 masterworks representing the achievements of artists from more than fifty cultures across North America. Ranging in date from the second to the early twentieth century, the diverse works are promised gifts, donations, and loans to The Met from the pioneering collectors Charles and Valerie Dike.

Long considered to be the most significant holdings of historical Native American art in private hands, the Diker Collection has particular strengths in sculpture from British Columbia and Alaska, California baskets, pottery from southwestern pueblos, Plains drawings and regalia, and rare accessories from the eastern Woodlands.

Intrinsic to the American Wing's evolving collecting focus and expanding definition of historical American art is our long-term commitment to ongoing dialogues with source communities, artists, and scholars who inform and expand our understanding of diverse Indigenous cultures—a critical component of caring for and displaying these distinct expressions of culture and identity.

Exhibition Catalogue

With all new photography, this beautifully illustrated book provides key insights into the art, culture, and daily life of Indigenous Americans.

The catalogue is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Exhibition Objects

Shaman's amulet
ca. 1840–70

War shirt
ca. 1840–70

Shoulder bag
ca. 1780

Comb
ca. 1680

Shaman's amulet
ca. 1840–70

War shirt
ca. 1840–70

Shoulder bag
ca. 1780

Comb
ca. 1680

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