Sunday, February 19, 2012

A day at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

We're in NYC for a couple of days. Today was museum day for us, and after much waffling, we finally chose the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The alternate choice was the Museum of Art and Design, a charmingly funky little museum, and the American Folk Art Museum, where I've never been. I'm sure they would both have been lovely, but still, we made the perfect choice.

First of all, there's the new American Wing, housing an amazing comprehensive collection of iconic works of art beyond my wildest expectations. The collection is extensive but there is nothing frivolous. This new wing is a collection of art worth seeing, and you can spend half a day there without ever exploring any other part of the Met.

Below, paintings by Mary Cassatt, Thomas Hart Benton, and Thomas Eakins

But oh, there's the contemporary galleries, the 20th Century galleries, European galleries, costume galleries, decorative arts, an amazing Egyptian collection including a whole temple plus mummies galore, Greek & Roman art, Islamic art, arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Asian art, arms and armor, and many, many special exhibitions.

Here's something fun from the contemporary galleries:

Does a trip to the Met sound overwhelming? It can be. This is a HUGE amazing museum. If you go to the Met, go with a plan, and don't expect to see the whole collection. It's impossible to do in one day. Last time we were there, we explored Egypt for 1/2 our visit, so this time we decided to skip it completely. Except we had to go through the Egyptian galleries to get to where we were going, and my husband had to remind me not to stop. So there's no photos here of the mummies or temple or any other Egyptian artifacts.

I explored without photographing rooms full of: Rembrandt paintings, Van Gogh paintings, photographs, caricature art, Renaissance portraiture, and more. And we saw works by Lichtenstein, Oldenburg, Calder, Pollock, and a heap of other of the most well-known artists. We totally skipped most of the antiquities and decorative arts, and I missed seeing the magnificent Tiffany window. But here's a little more of what I did see today:
George Segal's "3 people on a 4 benches" plus a color field piece; above.

Paintings by Stuart Davis and Childe Hassam

I fell in love with this little Picasso, titled Girl Asleep at a Table (above). And below, here's a couple more fun Picasso paintings: Dora Maar in an Armchair, and Man with Lollipop.

Above, a trump l'oeil piece, a painting by Hans Hoffman (who I adored when I was in college), and a beautiful airy Matisse (my hero). And below, a couple of interesting pieces that caught my eye. The one on the left is a wax encaustic with ink.

Each year we visit a different art museum during our NYC visit. Last year it was the (fabulous, wonderful) Brooklyn Museum, which includes a huge Egyptian exhibit, Judy Chicago's "The Dinner Party", and 2 carved heads by my talented grandfather Harry Levine in the Henry Luce Visible Storage Center. The year before was the Guggenheim (not my favorite, but a nice Kandinsky collection), and before that, MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). But I think the Met might outrank them all, not just in sheer volume, but also in the number of iconic pieces, straight out of your art history textbooks. Wow, wow, wow.

I passed this fun purple and red vacuum cleaner, and this funky foam peacock chair, and this "Kongo Power Figure"

If you also have time off this week, I hope you are doing something fun too!


  1. Looks like you had a wonderful trip! I love the MET, but I always leave exhausted! One of my favorite things to do is draw in the Greek/Roman wing(s).

    1. What a grand thing to do! I've never done that. And yes, the Met is exhausting. We ate dinner in a little diner and then sat in our hotel room watching TV and playing on the internet. Too tired to go out.

  2. Thank you so much for taking me to the Met just for a bit, I love the reuse WallArt in the contemporary gallery.
    I filled this visit with my memories while living in New York.

  3. Gorgeous post. I am so envious of your trip. Hope you're still having fun.

  4. The Met is my favorite museum in the city! One of my favorite wings was the American Wing, I could sit forever and take in the beauty of the Louis Comfort Tiffany windows. I only live a short way from the city but have not been there for quite sometime. I used to go a lot but 9/11 and my husband being stuck there that day with no way out left a haunting impression on us. Maybe a summer day trip? We'll see.... Glad you are having a good trip!

  5. It is like going to a rock concert and meeting your favorite stars I am always starstruck at the MET. Have fun! I think once you've been a bunch of times it is a little less exhausting because you know the layout. It is too huge for one trip. We will have to set up a place/time for us all (bloggers) to meet for coffee tea or a workshop in NY. Getting excited thrilled beyond!

  6. Phyl, Thanks for showing us the AWESOME photos- The Picasso's ROCK! Glad you are having an awesome time. We have one day off can't travel anywhere so your post was a nice treasure to read. :) P.S. The Hans Hoffman is another favorite!

  7. I LOVE the peacock chair!!! I'm sure there is an art project hidden in that design somewhere!! Hope you continue to have a great time:))