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The inspiring triumph of art in the Metropolitan Art Museum New York

9 Mins read
met museum lay flat photo

There is something sincerely special when you make your dream come true, despite all the hardships that might have flooded the road to a destination. The new philosophy teaches us that to be happy and enjoy the triumph of achievements, first of all, we must love the journey, the road, every step along the way, and occasional bumps. 

So, to visit the Metropolitan Art Museum, I had to apply that idea in action. 

From the Caribbean beach to the largest museum in the United States – Metropolitan Art Museum.

Being an art student 18 years ago, I read about the MET. Yet growing up in a restrained society (former USSR), I never allowed myself to dream of visiting it. It wasn’t until I moved to Cancun in 2013, where I established my own photography business and was exposed to international tourism, that I started dreaming big. And though living in a tropical destination might sound alluring to those of you who live in a cold climate, with many rainy days and no direct access to the beach, there are some pitfalls. And one of them is the limited number of museums, galleries, and other places that represent different art, including classy. At some point living in Cancun, I clearly realized I have a visual hunger! I needed more art and all it encompasses – beauty, diversity, inspiration, variety of texture and forms, creative communication, and the hidden message that tickles my curious mind. And I started actively dreaming, which was interrupted by a Global Pandemic. However, I am a true believer in the power of thoughts and the magic formula “dream+act=victory” So, despite all the circumstances that were against me traveling to New York, I made it happen. I patiently waited for my visa appointment for a year, working, doing “Empowering Flying Dress photoshoots,” and staying true to my dream. And it worked out, as always it works out when you combine dreams with actions. 

I imagined myself visiting the Metropolitan Art Museum for many years. So, when it finally happened, I was super excited, and it became a gently nourishing experience for me. And I didn’t expect less than that. After all, going to the MET symbolized my first solo trip to New York and the United States, the country I had been so curious about since I was a teenager. 

New York, New York – a city that never sleeps, with skyscrapers reaching high to the sky, yellow taxis creating a colorful puzzle mood, and infinite geometric patterns formed by a city skyline.

My trip was in March 2022, and it was still cold in New York. I was a first-time visitor, and coming from Cancun, I wasn’t well prepared for this weather. My friend, a long-time new yorker, said: “It’s because a cold front is passing by, but don’t worry, it will be gone in a couple of days.” I continued our conversation: “Sounds good, if I wouldn’t be leaving by then”. So, I couldn’t postpone my visit to the MET and went there the next day after its day off. 

On vacation, I allow myself to sleep in, but on that magical day, I woke up around 6.30 AM. I wanted to arrive at MET at least thirty minutes before opening to ensure I didn’t have to stand in a long line. So I took a hot shower, did my makeup, and put on a dress and several casual blouses underneath to keep me warm because my spring coat was just not enough. Living in Cancun for nine years, I almost forgot why one needs a warm coat and how cold weather feels. But I realized I should have prepared better for this trip when I stepped outside the JFK airport and saw little snowflakes dancing in the air. But anyway, even this minor weather-type misunderstanding couldn’t stop me from enjoying the Big Apple and visiting the MET NYC

Brrrr … freezing, look at the ice icicles on the edges of the fountain. The first time I was wearing a warm hat and scarf since 2013.

The West Side YMCA hostel New York where I stayed, is located at 1.3. miles away from the Metropolitan Museum and on a warm day, I would easily walk there, even wearing heels. However, the cold and terrifyingly strong wind made it impossible. 

So, after having breakfast, I took an Uber, and in fifteen minutes, I was at the MET’s main entrance. 

I didn’t expect a long line entering a museum, but I was glad it was there because it gave me just enough time to purchase a ticket online. That was the best option. Otherwise, I would have spent more time outside in the cold waiting in line at a ticket office. I added detailed information about the MET hours and tickets at the end of the article. 

Inside the MET New York

When I entered the Metropolitan museum, I thought – hello, her Majesty, The palace of art. It’s one thing when you read about a museum and different when you visit it. “It’s real,” I thought, “I am real, and my experience traveling in New York is real.” I was 100% present in the moment, and it was magical. 

Art and history are romantically connected, so in writing about the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s, it’s important to mention how it was established. 

1 – behind me woman’s portrait Claude Monet The Stroller (Suzanne Hoschedé, later Mrs. Theodore Earl Butler) 1868–1899
2 – John Singer Sargent “Madame X” 1883­-1884.

The MET Museum was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens that included businessman John Taylor Johnston, painter Jonathan Eastman and art collector William Tilden Blodgett. Their main objective was to establish, encourage and promote the knowledge and study of Fine Art in the city. The first collection was purchased in 1872 and consisted of 174 paintings. It’s estimated that the current MET collection includes almost 2 million works of art covering 5000 years of world culture. The museum was first housed in the building at 681 Fifth Avenue, but smart leadership and management led to its fast expansion, and in 1880, it moved into its current building located at 1000 Park Avenue, New York City. By the 20th century, the Metropolitan Art Museum has become one of the world’s prominent art centers. 

In 1967 a grand plan for expansion of the major building was approved, and the architect Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo & Associates was in charge of the MET’s renovation. It took them 26 years of continuous work to complete the project. The result was the construction of the Robert Lehman Wing, The Sackler Wing, The American Wing, The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, the Lila Acheson Wallace Wing, and the Henry R. Kravis Wing. The new space allowed the MET museum to refine and reorganize its collection. 

The Metropolitan Art Museum recorded 2.11 million visitors in 2021, compared to 2019 when it received around 7 million visitors.

 

MET major collections.

The MET’s primary permanent collection is curated by seventeen departments, each with its own group of scholars. 

  • African Art in The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing
  • The American Wing
  • Ancient Near Eastern Art
  • Arms and Armor
  • Ancient American Art in The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing
  • Asian Art
  • The Costume Institute
  • Drawings and Prints
  • Egyptian Art
  • European Paintings
  • European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
  • Greek and Roman Art
  • Islamic Art
  • The Robert Lehman Collection
  • Medieval Art and The Cloisters
  • Modern and Contemporary Art
  • Musical Instruments
  • Oceanic Art in The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing
  • Photographs
oldest piano metropolitan museum
Period Rooms in MET

What can be a better representation of a period in time other than a room?! And in the Metropolitan Art Museum, there are 29 “period” and historic rooms of different sizes. The decoration of each of them reflects a particular epoch and artistic style. They are curated by scholars and partly inspired by museological trends and MET’s collections. In most “period rooms,” the furnishings are not original but have been selected to give visitors an idea of what it might look like. 

Here are photos of some of the rooms that I visited. As a kind reminder, note that a video recording is not allowed.    

I spent all day in the Metropolitan Art Museum and still didn’t get to see it all. The statistics say that, on average, a person spends 3-4 hours in MET, and with that schedule, you probably need at least a week to walk around every hall. If I lived in New York, I am sure I would have a membership as I did in the High Museum of Art Atlanta. 

I needed more time to see all the famous paintings and take a detailed look at Egyptian art, as those are of special interest to me. 

Egyptian art at the Metropolitan museum.

A relatively small initial collection of Egyptian collections in MET museum was represented by seals and scarabs acquired in 1874 by its first director – Luigi Palma di Cesnola. Later, in 1884 the Egyptian art collection extended when the museum bought important items directly from the Egyptian Government. By 1905 there were 4400 objects in the Egyptian art collection at the Metropolitan museum. It’s important to note that the Egyptian department was one of the earliest in MET. 

The modern-day collection consists of 26000 items dating from the Paleolithic to the Roman period. And most parts of it were acquired through the museum’s thirty-five-year archeological work in Egypt that started in 1906 and was interrupted in 1936 by the problems that resulted from the Depression. It took fifty years for MET to reinitiate its archeological explorations in Egypt. 

The most prominent item in the Egyptian collection of the Metropolitan Art Museum is the Temple of Dendur, awarded to MET in 1967. 

MET costume exhibit – In America: An Anthology of Fashion

Do you remember that feeling when you visit a beautiful and alluring place for the first time? For me visiting the MET Museum was one such experience. And I didn’t have time to get ready: to map out what I wanted to see and where it was located within the museum’s building, what are the temporary exhibitions, or how much time I needed to allocate for every collection. I just went there and was exploring it step by step, hall by hall, feeling like an art traveler lost in the space of a magnifying charm. And at some point, I entered a gallery with a temporary exhibition – In America an Anthology of Fashion. It was a must-see for me, now that I am interested in and passionate about personal style. I am not a fashionista and don’t spend days looking through fashion magazines. However, allocating a certain time of my life to dress nice has become an importantly-nourishing habit after a divorce. It helps me to generate more enthusiasm for life. So, I was happy to look at distinctive dresses and other clothes for thirty minutes. Let me share with you my favorites. 

14 most famous paintings at the MET

While writing this article, I realized that you probably need a week to see just the paintings in the MET museum. With every new room you step into, the number of paintings seems to double. And that’s so tempting and confusing at the same time. I remember thinking: “I want to see them all, but I also want to see other pieces of art.” So, again it’s all about balance and allocating an equal amount of time to see some of the paintings at MET.   

  • Washington Crossing Delaware, Emanuel Leutze 1851
  • The Death of Socrates – Jacques-Louis David. This Neoclassical work is one of the most famous paintings at The Met. It portrays the moments just before the death of the great philosopher Socrates, based on his student Plato’s record of the event.
  • Gertrude Stein – Pablo Picasso 1905-06
  • The Dancing Class – Edgar Degas
  • Autumn Rhythm – Jackson Pollock 1950
  • Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints – Raphael
  • Olive Trees at Collioure – Henri Matisse 1906
  • Two Young Girls at the Piano – Auguste Renoir 1892
  • The Musicians – Caravaggio 1595
  • Venus and the Lute Player – Titian – 1565 
  • Vincent Van Gogh | 1887 – Self-portrait with a straw hat.
  • Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies – Claude Monet 1899
  • No. 13 (White, Red on Yellow) – Mark Rothko 1958
  • View of Toledo, El Greco 1596-1600

               My favorite paintings are the following:

1- Claude Monet “Chrysanthemums” 1882
2- Auguste Renoir “In the Meadow” 1888-92
1 – John Fredercik Kensett “Hudson River Scene” 1857
2- Sanford R Gifford “Isola Bella in Lago Maggiore” 1871 and “Tivoli” 1870
1 – John Singer Sargent “The Wyndham Sisters: Lady Elcho, Mrs. Adeane, and Mrs. Tennant” 1899
2 – Auguste Renoir “Tilla Durieux (Ottilie Godeffroy, 1880–1971)” 1914
1 – Claude Monet “The Path through the Irises” 1914-17
2- Paul Signac “The Jetty at Cassis, Opus 198” 1889
2 – Berthe Morisot “Young Woman Seated on a Sofa” 1879
Metropolitan Museum of Art tickets

Multiple webs offer online tickets to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Usually, they appear on the right side of a Google search and might offer a discount. However, I prefer to buy tickets directly, so I booked my visit to MET online while waiting in line next to the main entrance. Follow this link to get your Metropolitan Museum of Art ticket

Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday 10 AM – 5 PM

Wednesday – Day off

Friday- Sunday 10 AM -9 PM

It is closed on Thanksgiving Day, December 25, January 1, and the first Monday in May. 

Address: 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street

New York, NY 10028

As of September 2022, masks are recommended but not required.

At the end of my first visit to MET, I clearly felt that going to a museum can revive my creative spirit like nothing else.

No matter how many speculations are going around the founders and finances of the museum, I was there to look at art, inhale the tangible past, and exhale enthusiasm for the future. And I would love to go there again. I love going to museums as a random visitor and admirer of art and all things beautifully creative. It’s a visual food for my spirit and allows me to grow and explore all the kaleidoscopic angles of life. 

And besides that, you can’t travel to New York and not visit the Metropolitan Art Museum; it’s like going on a beach vacation and never touching the sea. It would be confusing, do you agree?!

The power of art can’t be overestimated. It inspires you to dream and fantasize beyond the ordinary. And a museum is a place that unites and attracts those of us who need that magical touch of the muse. 

After visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I started brimming with a renewed passion for exploring art. And I confirmed my thought that the beach, the Caribbean Sea, the palm trees, theaters, and museums are nice in moderation. All that has to be in life. And merged together, like pieces of a puzzle, create a balance in life.

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About author
I believe that fine art, creative and aesthetically beautiful activities can empower you to make positive changes in your life. I created “Fine Art Lifestyle” to inspire you with visual ideas and stories shared with love to help you flourish. The way I express my creativity in writing, speaking and photography has a direct connection to my Master's degree in art. I am inspired by colors, flowers, light, words and people.
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