Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art (114)

Five thousand years of art. This is how the Metropolitan Museum of Art is defined, which is the largest museum in the United States and one the largest in the world with its more than 200,000 square metres.

Indeed, without considering the temporary exhibitions, its permanent collection includes more than 2 million works of art from all corners of the world and of all times, from the Palaeolithic to the present day.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of artists and philanthropists, though it did not open until 1880 at the inauguration of the first building on Fifth Avenue and 82nd. The original building was built by Calvert Vaux in a Victorian Gothic style, but it was soon covered with different extensions.

The imposing and monumental facade on Fifth Avenue you see today was built by Richard Morris Hunt in 1902, as well as the majestic Great Hall you will encounter as soon as you get in, where the information office, the box office, the library and the gift shop are located. If you would like to see part of the original facade, you have to go to the room dedicated to European sculpture and, apart from admiring the works, let yourself be surprised with the old red brick facade.

To tour the museum completely, experts recommend at least 3 to 4 days, but we can assure you that art is appreciated and enjoyed best in small doses. Choose well what you would like to visit and leave other rooms for another day, or perhaps for another trip. It will be an excellent excuse to come back to Manhattan. Indeed, as you will soon notice, the MET is so big that there are even rebuilt temples inside.

If this is your first time at the MET, a good idea is to book a guided tour or the museum's audio guide to get oriented and informed. However, you should not miss under any circumstance the Temple of Dendur from more than 3,500 years ago, which has been displayed here since 1978 within a glass enclosure, with the Central Park in the background. It is a small Egyptian sandstone temple dismantled by the Egyptian government to save it from the water of the Aswan Dam, which was donated to the United States in 1965 in gratitude for their assistance with the construction of the dam. Moreover, you will be able to find mummies, sarcophagi, papyri and other Egyptian relics from thousands of years ago. 

Besides, you must see the galleries devoted to European painting, where you will find more than 2,500 exquisite works. Among them, we recommend "The Last Judgment" by Jan Van Eyck, from 1525, "View of Toledo" by El Greco, from 1597, "Juan de Pareja" by Velazquez, from 1648, and "Aristotle with a Bust of Homer" by Rembrandt, from 1653. In addition, there are excellent works of impressionism and post-impressionism, many of them are key works by artists such as Cézanne, Monet, Manet, Seurat or even Van Gogh's genius. Getting a little closer to our present time, in the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing, a must-see visit is certainly the famous "Portrait of Gertrude Stein" by Pablo Picasso, from 1906.

But, if you are more into classical civilisations, the Greek and Roman art rooms are real jewels. Mythological 2,500-year-old urns from ancient Greece, statues and busts of myths and historical milestones, Roman frescos from excavations at the foot of the Vesuvius ... For many, they constitute the most spectacular exhibits of all museums in New York, together with the Temple of Dendur.

In the museum, there is also space for Asian art, of course. Of all these works, we would like to highlight the reproduction of a courtyard of the Ming Dynasty: The Astor Court Chinese Garden. The atrium of this garden was made by Chinese craftsmen using ancestral techniques and even local materials. All this with the aim of creating and recreating the perfect microcosm of nature. You will love it.

Egyptian, Etruscan, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Chinese, Japanese and even Oceanic art. As you can see, here there is room for everything and everyone. Whatever your style, your visit will be most revealing. The Metropolitan Museum of New York is a gem in every sense and for all senses. Its location, overlooking the park, its different rooms and galleries and, of course, its contents are absolutely exceptional.

One last thing. Please note that the entrance to the MET gives you the right to visit the museum of The Cloisters on the same day. It is located at 99 on Margaret Corbin Drive, within the Fort Tryon Park, in the far north of Manhattan, and is dedicated to Medieval European art and architecture. Besides paintings, stained glass windows and other works of art, there French cloisters, the Romanesque apse of a Spanish church and other structures have been rebuilt that will fully immerse you in the Middle Ages. It is a real trip back in time some 1,000 years ago.

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