The Metropolitan Museum of Art, aka “The Met,” is the United State’s largest art museum and one of the largest art museums anywhere in the world. Naturally, this was at the top of our list of things to do on our most recent visit to New York City because Robin and I are huge fans of the arts. The Met is 2.2 Million square feet large and houses more than 2 million works of art, archaeological finds, statues, pieces of jewelry, historical garments, rare texts, weapons, small replica buildings inside, and even the world’s oldest surviving piano from the same Italian man who invented the instrument. Here’s everything you need to know before visiting The Met, along with some of my favorite things about this incredible museum.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
aka “The MET”
Location: New York City, New York
Address: 1000 5th Ave
New York, NY 10028
Admission: $25+ per Adult Ticket
Hours: See hours here
Parking: Nearby Lots for Non-Members
(use SpotHero app for discounted rate)
Our Visit to The Metropolitan Museum of Art
We parked at a nearby parking garage and walked to the met on a foggy day in New York City. We were in town for the day, and at the top of our list of things to see and do was visit the Met, a place we hadn’t had time to visit during previous visits. Upon arrival at the museum, we waited outside in line for maybe 20 minutes before making our way inside. We were so impressed with the size of the museum and the incredible variety of objects from around the world that now reside within this museum.
Although we spent around 5 hours walking through the museum, moving rather quickly compared to how slowly we normally like to explore museums, we only saw about half of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I hope we can spend more time in the city over the winter and spend an entire day here. I’d love to take the time to appreciate each and every item in the museum more carefully. I recommend spending at least an entire day at the museum, and since the museum rotates exhibits frequently, it’s something I think we will at least pop into each time were are in New York City.
Art & Artifacts at The Met
Spanning more than 5,000 years of human history, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is like traveling the world through time and art, without ever leaving New York City. Amidst the more than 2 million items in the museum’s permanent collection, visitors will find some of the most famous works of art in existence, like Water Lillies (1919) by Claude Monet, Cypresses (1889) by Vincent van Gogh, Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, the massive Buddha of Medicine Bhaishajyaguru tapestry from circa 1319, Young Mother Sewing by Mary Cassatt (1900), Vincent van Gogh’s Self Portrait with a Straw Hat from 1887, and hundreds more. These are just a few famous paintings in this museum; we’ll get to some incredible sculptures and other artifacts later.
Above: Water Lillies by Claude Monet (1919)
Speaking of Claude Monet, during our visit, we were able to see one of my favorite paintings by Claude Monet, arguably one of his most famous works of art, Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lillies, from sometime between 1840-1842 amongst the museum’s massive Monet collection. It was much bigger than I thought it would be in person, and his neater, smaller brush strokes tell us that it was one of his earlier paintings before his vision began decaying from a severe case of cataracts. In fact, you can more or less figure out when this master French painter created a work of art by how sharp or blurry the details seem. As his vision worsened, he used much larger strokes and softer colors, which created almost a blurry effect as he painted what was visible to him at the time.
Above: Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lillies (1899), Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (1894), View of Vétheuil (1880) all by Claude Monet
If you’re as much of a fan of French or Dutch impressionist and post-impressionist artists like Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Édouard Manet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, then you’ll be very pleased to know that The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has one of the world’s largest collections of their works. It was truly a delight to see so many of their artworks all in one place.
Above: Painting Entitled Young Girl Bathing by Auguste Renoir
Sculptures & Architecture
I mentioned above that there are some incredible sculptures and busts and impressive replicas of some of the most famous and intricately carved sculptures in the world at The Met. The Statue of Athena Parthenos, The Fragmentary Colossal Head of a Youth, Dancing Celestial Deity, Venus Italica, Marble Statue of Aphrodite, and hundreds more await visitors at the Met.
Above: The Fragmentary Colossal Head of a Youth by Unknown Sculptor
Perhaps it’s because in my all-girls dormitory at the University of Michigan, Martha Cook, I lived in the room just behind the replica marble statue of Venus de Milo on the ground floor. I grew up surrounded by marble garden statues and frequent visits to museums. Still, I’ve always felt such comfort and inspiration when looking at marble statues, particularly those by Roman and Greek sculptors. The way they’re able to capture and immortalize even the smallest details like the folds of fabric or individual strands of hair, with a material that should be cold and hard, but appears so soft and supple, has always mesmerized me. If you love admiring sculptures, you’ll love the Met’s collections.
While on the topic of incredible stoneworking techniques, one of the most impressive examples of stoneworking and relocating said stonework is The Temple of Dendur in the Ancient Egypt wing of the museum. This temple entrance was given as a token of appreciation to the United States by the Egyptian government after the United States helped plan, fund, and execute the building of the Aswan Dam in the 1960s. This was an effort that also included relocating, cataloging, and preserving artifacts and buildings from this region which would have been flooded by the intentional rerouting of the Nile River. I haven’t yet had the chance to visit Egypt myself yet, although I hope to visit someday soon; in the meantime, this was an incredible architectural achievement to behold.
Another incredible exhibit inside The Met is the Astor Court, a Chinese Garden Court, which brings the outdoors inside in a style similar to moon gardens 400 years ago in China. This beautiful display of architecture was created by craftsmen from China who brought all of their supplies with them and recreated this beautiful space without using a single nail, just as skilled artisans would have done centuries ago. This guide to this part of the Asian Art Gallery is geared towards children, but it’s not only fun to read, but it also has lots of great information for everyone of all ages, so check it out here if you want to know more about this gorgeous space.
Other Facts About The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Due to the pandemic, there were many changes to the museum that made our visit atypical and prevented me from giving more comprehensive information about this museum. Normally, there is a restaurant and two cafés inside The Metropolitan Museum of Art, but they were all closed. There was also an outdoor garden space that was closed during our visit, along with several galleries that didn’t have enough space for social distancing.
With this in mind, I intend to visit this fall or winter again and not only see the rest of the museum but also update this guide with more information about the other activities around the museum. If you plan to visit for several hours, you won’t experience much of an interruption to the services the museum offers, so I hope these temporary closures don’t discourage you from visiting soon.
In the meantime, please explore my museum archives to find other incredible museums worth exploring around the world.