Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)

Friday, November 30, 2012
The Met, as it is universally known, is one of the truly great museums and galleries of the world. It is the largest museum in the USA with a brilliant location on the Eastern edge of Central park.
The collection combines elements of a traditional museum of antiquities, with a marvellous, wide ranging collection of art works ancient and modern. The Met covers no less than 2,000,000 square feet of interior space, and so it is no surprise that no visitor can hope to see everything in one day. To avoid 'museum fatigue', one needs to restrict one's visit to a particular section or sections, and leave the rest for another day. It will still be there as it has for more than a hundred years.
The History of the met began when a group of the great and the good, politician, artists, thinkers and businessmen, came together with the purpose of establishing a museum of art and artefacts in New York. The new museum was to benefit the people by educating them about culture, and so improving their minds. The ideals were high minded, and they would no doubt be happy to see the vast and successful institution, loved by New Yorkers and visitors alike that the Met is today.
When the present site was gifted to the museum by the city of New York, a red brick and stone mausoleum-like structure was built in 1880 to house the growing collection. The building was badly regarded as its gothic style had fallen out of fashion, and it was incorporated into a bigger building after about 20 years. Addition followed addition as the years went by and the collections grew, so that now the met is about 20 times the size of the original, which is buried deep within the structure which comprises 20 individual structures.

The range of areas and eras included in the collection is extremely wide ranging. There are 17 separately curated permanent sections, from classical antiquities through an extensive Egyptian section, and the Old European Masters, to modern and contemporary art. There are African, Asian, Oceanic and Islamic specialist sections. Among the other subject matter is a notable collection devoted to musical instruments. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the magnificent abundance on display.
The displays are not just wide-ranging, but they also posses depth. For such an eclectic collection, the depth in which certain artists are covered is notable, and one way to organize a visit is just to concentrate on a modern artist like Klee for example. The exhibition at the Met covers his life and art so comprehensively that you are bound to emerge with a better appreciation of his art. Then, perhaps take in some of the ancient artefacts, say the Egyptian collection. In that way you will have sampled some of the best the museum has to offer from the past and the near present, and you can also learn a lot about art, humanity and the creative impulse from experiencing the juxtaposition of ancient and modern.


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