The Met in Brief

From the outside, the Metropolitan Museum of Art looks just like any other museum, and to tell the honest truth, museums have never been my favorite pasttime. But the operative word is definitely “metropolitan,” because here there is something for everyone. While walking through in awe, I felt the offhanded and slightly frustrated comment of an older woman to her husband summed up my thoughts exactly: “you’d need a week in this place!” she huffed.
It started out like any other museum with all the basics: the Egyptian rooms, the Italian paintings, the Greek and Roman statues. But who can compete with an entire Egyptian tomb inside a glass courtyard? We are talking surrounded by a moat! The tomb itself, complete with a Sphinx, and period grafiti, wasn’t even that spectacular, but the setting and the presentation made it awe inspiring. The museum was simply massive, the presentation of the pieces superb. They presented some absolutely huge pieces, or just massive amounts of smaller ones. The collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany, for example, did not simply contain his popular lamps and vases as expected, but mosaic fountains, monstrous stained glass windows, and full size columns! They seemed to import whole building facades just because they could, and even use theatrical means to present their more modern collections. Their special exhibit, titled “American Woman” sounded as if it would be a selection of artful black and white photography of women performing every day duties. Instead, as you entered the first room you encountered a period salon, styled as a Victorian era house. The room, titled “The Heiress,” was a collection of full size dolls modeling the period clothing of the wealthy heiress archetype, and the next few rooms followed this model. We walked through “the Gibson Girl,” “the Flapper,” “the Suffragette” and others, all styled wearing exquisite but representative clothing of their time. The exhibit culminated in modern influential woman, shown as a photo montage. But for those preferring the more traditional art in an art museum, their Picaso collection was huge. Spanning an impressive five or more rooms, his work was all inclusive, complete with lesser known etchings and realistic portraits alongside famous pieces. The Impressionist room featuring Van Gogh and Monet, contained lesser known works from these artists that were almost more interesting than the famous paintings attracting all the attention. It was easy to lose yourself in the labyrinthine corridors and forget that there were not simply many more rooms, but many more floors to traverse. To make a day of it, the best way to get to the Met is to approach from the side adjoining Central Park, after having taken a midday walk through the park. The Met can be seen sparkling through the trees, promising new discoveries and glimpses into time almost the way the original pieces must have been in all their glory. While I thoroughly enjoyed myself and could return again and again, I will traverse the MOMA tomorrow instead. Again, modern art is not my thing, but maybe this museum will wow me too. Expect a compare and contrast.

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