The Metropolitan Museum Of Art, New York is one of the most famous and recognizable Museums in the world, after perhaps the Lourve in France. The Iconic museum has been the host of the countless swanky soirees and the set for many movies and Tv Shows, it’s always on any tour guide’s must-see lists, and tourists flock there in droves. But like many things in New York, most people know very little about the reality of the Museum, what exactly is on show, and if a visit is suitable for less arty types!
Our Metropolitan Museum Of Art Review aims to clarify all these points and more. We highlight the museum’s most recognizable exhibitions and wings. We show you all the MUST see Exhibits and what not to miss. and we try to explain what the museum is like to visit for regular folks and for those that as a little unsure if they want to devote half a day+ of their New York trip traipsing around a Museum looking at some Stuffy old paintings!
So whether you are an avid art lover looking to get the juices flowing before your first visit, a reluctant tag along, or just someone who is a little unsure of the realities of the Museum Our review should be perfect in getting under the skin of the Museum and deciding if the Met is the best fit for your New York Trip!
- Attraction: Metropolitan Museum Of Art
- Cost: Adults: $25 Seniors (62+): $17 Children (6-12): $0
- Location: 82nd Street, 5th Av – MAP
- Visit Duration: 4-8 Hours
What is the The Metropolitan Museum Of Art?
As one f the most Famous Museums in the world we are not overly sure how much introduction the Museum Needs? However the truth is, while most people know the museum exists and boasts a world-leading collection of artistic Pieces, but beyond that most people run out of things to say.
The Museum is incredibly iconic but most people do not really know what is on display in the hallowed halls. Even those who have dreamed of visiting the Met for years suddenly realize they know very little of the Museum’s works. The Truth is the Met actually doesn’t really have a standout piece or artifact that defines the Museum. The Lourve has the Mona Lisa, The British Museum has its treasure trove of Egyptian artifacts, even the Art Institute of Chicago has Hopper’s Nighthawks, The Met seems to lack that standout piece.
However, what it does have is an unfathomable quantity of art. The Museum is genuinely cavernous, with over 2 million pieces and 600,000 sq feet of exhibition space, it is colossal. That is twice the size of the natural history museum and 4 times the size of the MoMA!
And while there is now one standout piece, that does not make the museum all filler. The pieces are genuinely world-class with some incredibly important art, items of huge cultural and historic importance.
The most important thing to point out is what the definition of Art is. We find the vast majority of people imagine the Met is filled with gallery after gallery of Paintings. When people say art they think of oil on canvas, more often than not. This could not be further from what the Met is about. There are Large Galleries with many incredible paintings from the European masters, as one expects from an art museum, but that is just scratching the surface of what is on display at the Met.
Art constitutes the entirety of humanity’s creative endeavors. Whenever we create for a purpose other than function, this is art. And even when we do create for function, but express it in an aesthetically pleasing way, it is art. The Met is a gigantic collection of some of the finest examples of these expressions from throughout history.
From the ancient Egyptians, medieval Europe, feudal China and Japan, Renaissance Europe, the early united states to modern and contemporary periods. The entire history of our cultural importance is laid out with an incredible array of stunning exhibits, exhibitions, and individual works.
It really is a stunning achievement!
Who does the The Metropolitan Museum Of Art Suit?
As we have stated, the museum is anything but a bunch of old paintings and this means it should have great appeal to anyone with even a slight interest in our cultural history. Very few people have no appreciation of art when it is explained as such. Just because you don’t enjoy staring at old paintings does not mean you will not enjoy the Museum.
The huge variance and diversity of art on display usually means there is something for most people. The joy of the museum is exploring and discovering little exhibits buried away that delight and enthrall. From Egyptian temples, Ming Dynasty Courtyards, Knights on horseback, or entire period homes.
The Museum really is an eye-opener as to what the Art Word really represents, it never feels stuffy or pretentious. You are not made to feel uncultured if your knowledge is not that of an art professor. The exhibits are just laid bare for you to explore and enjoy.
This said it’s a hard-going experience. This is museuming at its heaviest! The cavernous nature means there is a huge amount of walking required in viewing the exhibitions. The Experience is enthralling and culturally enlightening, however, even the most optimistic advocate would struggle to label it fun!
The reality is you are spending the time looking at old things. They may be spectacular, hugely significant, and quite wonderful old things…but they are still old things. If spending several hours looking at old things sounds like hell to you. Maybe the museum is not your cup of tea. We don’t want to encourage people to visit something that would bore them Ridgid. But we worry some people who don’t consider themselves Arty, would skip the Met when in reality the vast collection of historical art would be hugely interesting to them.
We have so far only addressed the type of people who do not consider themselves too cultural, who maybe do not consider Museums their natural home. For those who love art, history, and Museums in general, you may need little persuading. The Met is one of the best museums in the world and is an absolute treasure trove of wonders from the ancient, and not so ancient world of art. If you like culture and museums the Met will Blow you away!
How long does it take to visit The Metropolitan Museum Of Art?
The simple answer to this for the majority of people is half a day. Any less and you miss out on too much anymore and you will likely begin to fatigue.
The truth is though with a half-day visit you will only really get a basic grasp of the museum’s treasures. There is so much on display a half-day provides little more than an extensive highlights reel. The is a museum that begs to be visited multiple times. However much we want to spend longer in the museum after half a day both our mental and physical endurance is at an end.
The Museum is ever-changing, temporary exhibits pop up and disappear all the time, especially from the fashion institute, Galleries close for refurbishment and major works are taken off display, while this is disappointing at times, it simply begs for you to come back and take another look. After 100, visits you are likely to still find little treasures you missed on your other visits.
With 2 million pieces if we say 10 seconds apiece to view, which is very optimistic, then to view every piece would take 231 days, nearly a year! Realistically this means you will never see everything the museum has on offer, so your only limit is as we said your own mental and physical fortitude. And er really find after a good half-day, we stop taking things in and just focus on our tired achy legs and wanting to find something lighter to do. Some people will crash earlier, some last longer, but a half-day is a good amount of time to assign to the Met.
Booking The Metropolitan Museum Of Art
The Met currently requires you to book a time and day slot for visitation. This is due to Coronavirus restrictions to ensure social distancing. You can book your tickets directly through Tiqets.com and select your time and date below.
Alternatively, you might consider an Attraction Pass. These nifty little products allow you to visit a number of New York’s Top Attractions all for a set fee, saving you sometimes hundreds of dollars. We have a full comparison of all of New York Attractions Passes here. To see if a pass suits you and can save you money. The met is included on ALL passes.
What To See At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art
The simplest way to understand what the museum offers is to take a look at what is on display. With over 2 million pieces, there is a lot to see. However, there are a few truly outstanding examples of art, both in terms of individual pieces and exhibits.
Let’s take a look at the absolute best the museum has to offer
10 – Another Museum…
Well not just any Museum, but the Met Sister Museum, The Met Cloisters. Entry to the Met Includes entry to the Cloisters so it’s well worth checking out as part of the entry fee. The Museum is dedicated to Medieval Art particularly architecture and sculptures, but the whole gamut of Medievil culture is represented.
There is a lot of religious artifacts, representing the art of the era, and several chapels have been built to display pieces of inaccurate settings of the time. Many of which are of significant cultural importance.
The Museum is a wonderful alternative to the met and feels less like a museum and more like a visit t a historic place. The setting in Fort Tyron Park is a wonderful trip out of the main City area, right up in the far end of Manhattan island (Subway-Blue Line). It would be worth the entry fee on its own, to be included for free is incredible value. The distant location makes the museum far less visited than the met and you really do feel like you are exploring the dark medieval past.
9 – Roof Garden and Terrace
While this is not exactly “Museumy” the Roof Garden and Terrace is a really special place and not one to be missed. With stunning views over the park with the New York Skyline in the distance, the Bar is one of the most magical places in the park. It’s the highest (accessible) point in the park and really shows off the incredible contrast of Steel, glass, and Concrete against the Green of nature.
Museuming is hard work, after a few hours on your feet taking in the exhibitions and exhibits the chance to sit in one of the most beautiful spots in New York, enjoying an excellent cocktail, while soaking in the majesty of what you are doing is sure to be a real highlight of your whole New York trip.
So when those legs start to feel achy and you consider giving up, don’t head to the roof take a rest and a few refreshers, ready to push on for an hour or two more, it’s amazing what a few shots of rum can do to your endurance!
8 – The American Wing
The United States is not well known for its Artistic Masters or heritage, certainly not in the way we think of the European elite such as Van Gogh, DaVinci, Monet, etc… There are few big names, Hopper, Pollock, Wood, but these are few and far between. However, Art is far more than paintings and the American Wing showcases the real art of the earlier American periods.
The main hall is filled with curious items such as teapots, ceramics, furniture, jewelry, and such artifacts of everyday life as an American. At the head of the hall is the replica American house with a series of Period rooms dressed to reflect life in the particular period of American history.
There are also extensive Native American works from both contemporary and historical artists. This adds a respectable nod to the fact American history did not begin with the European settlers!
The American Wing is far from what you expect in an art Museum and while there are some paintings (the impressive 12x20ft Washington Crossing the Delaware River being a notable example) the majority of the wing is dedicated to showing that art is anything but dusty old paintings.
7 – Priceless Ming Vases
The Asian Art Collection is one of the finest in the museum. The pieces represent some of the finest, intricate and Painstaking art humanity has ever created. The Mindful, detailed, and Attentive pieces from the Far East are every bit as wonderful as the European Masters but offer a completely different take on fine art.
For the Japanese and Chinese, the Artist is all but irrelevant and pieces are stand by themselves not because of who created them. The level of detail and sheer precision of the artwork shines through in the collection. The collection is almost devoid of painting sand instead is one of fine pottery, including the iconic Ming Dynasty Vases, Tapestries, Sculptures, CArvings, and Jewelry.
The Centerpiece is the Garden Court, where intricate Zen landscaping brings a real calm to the courtyard as small fountains bubble and Dragon Pagodas Drama and contrast to the court.
5 – Arms and Armor
At the Center of the Arms and Armour Collection is the 4 imperious knights on horseback. Clad in full Suits of Armor, including the horses, and armed with Jousting Lances. It’s an impressive sight and shows the full pomp and pageantry of war in the middle ages.
The Artistic nature of war is a curious phenomenon but one repeated throughout all cultures, with the exception of perhaps our latest industrial campaigns. The Arms and Armor collections detail this trail in spectacular detail.
From regal suits of armor to the ritualistic apparel of the Japanese Samurai. The collection shows even the darkest side of or nature allows the brighter side of us to still shine. Although we question whether it is better to be killed by a beautiful decorative sword or a plain one?
Still, despite their gruesome purpose, some of the pieces on display show are really wondrous craftsmanship and stunning detail and beauty.
4 – Anna Wintour Costume Institute
As a further expression of the variety and extent of art, the Anna Wintour Costume Institute is devoted to Fashion as an enduring and everlasting Art Form. The Collection includes over 33,000 garments and includes some of the most valuable and important articles of dress in existence. Unfortunately, the vast majority are not on public display. The Institute cites the delicate nature of the fabrics and the probability that permanent display will permanently damage the integrity of many items.
Instead, the Met hosts regular special exhibitions. These often rank as the most visited Exhibition the museum hosts as the cultural importance of the exhibits is huge. Make no mistake these are haughty high fashion exhibits that take themselves very seriously. However, if that sounds a bit poncy, the exhibits are still usually incredible, the impact the exhibits have is extremely strong even if you don’t quite “get” fashion (Guilty as charged!). Recent Blockbusters have been:
Heavenly Bodies – 1.65 Million Visitors – A look at Medieval Costume Art, religious Garbs, and stunning outfits of the Medieval Religious sects
China Through the Looking Glass – 815,992 Visitors – A look at the impact Chinese Fashion has had on Global Fashion.
Manus x Machina – 752,995 Visitors – A look at the contrast between hand-sewn and machine-made fashion
Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty – 661,509 visitors – A celebration of the huge impact the late fashion goliath had on the industry.
These Exhibitions are constantly changing and Evolving, the only constant is they are incredibly popular and culturally seismic!
The other well-known element of the Fashion institute is the Met Gala. A yearly starstudded invite-only event that attracts the highest names in fashion and A-listers. Even if we could wangle an invite the $35,000 ticket price is a bit steep for us, and the $300,000 price to have a table to sit at clinches it. The money raised goes towards funding the institute so the giants of high fashion happily cough up and being seen at the event is worth its weight in gold to those in the industry.
3 – Amazing Modern Art
Pablo Picasso – The most famous modern artist has a very good representation at the Met, some of his most famous works are all on display including Women in White, Still Life With a Bottle of Rum, Woman in a Chemise, and Gertrude stein.
Claude Monet – Monet has a particular soft spot for us, while we are not experts on art in any way, there is just something about Monet’s style that speaks to us. The met has some of his best works on display, with several from his Lilleys Collection, including Bridge over a Pond of Water Lillies, one of his most famous pieces. There is also a Haystacks piece and several other seminal works, The Four Trees, Bouquet of Sunflowers, Morning on the River Seine, Camille Monet on a Garden Bench, and Garden at Sainte Adresse.
Vincent Van Gogh – Van Gogh is not instantly associated with Modern art, most people think of his work as much older, but this mainly stems from a misunderstanding of what Modern art is, and Van Gogh is the grandfather of the era. Some of his best pieces are on display including his self-portrait with a straw hat and wheat field with cypresses. Van Gogh’s works are incredibly striking and just a glimpse of them can unlock something inside, even for people who do not consider themselves too arty (us).
Paul Cézanne – Another Titan of the Modern art world. The Met has a huge collection of incredible and striking images. Mont Sainte-Victoire, The House with the Cracked Walls, and the Card Players are notable highlights.
Many others – The collection is absolutely huge and holds works by artists we barely recognize along with the titans of the era. Like most collections here the Modern Art could easily be a stand-alone museum all by itself.
2 – An Entire Egyptian Temple
The Temple of Dendur is the centerpiece of the Museums extensive ancient Egyptian Art Collection. The Temple was removed from its original location due to fears it would be lost to rising floodwaters due to t a new dam. The painstaking operation transported the entire 800 tons of sandstone block to new york as a thank you for saving several other important sites also threatened due to flooding.
The Entire Temple was assembled inside the Sackler Building, in itself a must-see. This is a stunning installation, the old temple contrasted against the modern hall, with a reflecting pool and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the park. This has been the setting for a host of TV shows and Films, being the go-to location when the Met needs to be on screen.
To accompany the Temple are over 26,000 artifacts from one of mankind’s most artistic periods. The splendor and wonder of the opulent tastes of the Egyptian aristocracy are on clear display with the finer pieces of the collection. The highlight of which is the Egyptian Faience Models, including William the Hippo (The Museums Mascot).
There are over 40 Egyptian Wings and the Museum is highly proud of its extensive collection, one of the best outside Egypt. It is one of the real highlights with the stunning temple being the real centerpiece.
1 – Works by the Old Masters – European Paintings
We have been at great length to point out the Met is anything but a collection of old paintings. We hope we have conveyed this message well, there is s much to see at the museum that is varied, interesting, and unique. However, the top billing is still the European paintings gallery.
These are works by some of the grandest artists the world has known. These are genuine masterpieces, near priceless wonders from the titans of the art world.
- Eugène Delacroix
- Jacques Louis David
- El Greco
- Rogier van der Weyden
While the Museum lacks a “Mona Lisa” or “Last Supper” style wonder there are simply thousands of masterpieces waiting to be discovered in the galleries. When viewing paintings of this caliber even the uninitiated in Art will find themselves drawn into the paintings, this is far less about really appreciating the art, but simply liking what you see. Art at this level simply ticks most people’s aesthetics box, like a beautiful sunset, or azure blue ocean scene, it is not easy to explain the power of the visual but you just know, it’s wonderful.
There is no need to be knowledgeable and cultured to feel the power and gravity of works at this level, you simply know you are in the presence of greatness, and the feeling of awe that accompanies this is enough.
Of course, people more initiated in the art world will simply be bowled over by what is on display in the European Art Galleries. These are examples of the finest works ever created by the finest artists on the planet.
Overall, Is the The Metropolitan Museum Of Art Worth It?
The Met is without a doubt an absolute world-class destination. For anyone with a passing interest in history, art or culture the museum is a must-see without a doubt. The paltry $25 entry fee gets you two museums and is one of the best value entry fees in the City. and if you visit the museum as part of an attraction pass then it’s even better.
There is of course the question of is it worth your time. City Visits are usually fleeting and how you spend your time is often more important than how you spend your dime! Again we can categorically say that a half-day at the met is one of the most valuable ways to spend your time in the City. The museum can really change your appreciation of Art and how it has impacted every facet of our culture.
However, the simple fact is these sorts of heavy museums are not everyone’s cup of tea. If you have read our list of top things to see and drawn no interest, no excitement from our explanations of the Museum’s offerings then you are unlikely to be further moved by seeing them in person. For you may be a trip to the met will be a long walk around some dusty halls looking at old things. With so much to see and do in the City don’t waste your time on the things that do not interest you.
However, if the article has piqued your interest then the actual experience is far more moving than simply seeing it online. The worry we have is if a group is split on this if one half thinks the Museum sounds amazing, and the other is firmly on the “not getting it” side, there is little to say to warm the mind of the negative. It is very likely they will not enjoy the Museum. For all its wonder the museum is very much a collection of old items, and if that is not enough to interest someone there is no way of spinning it so they can.
In this instance, bargaining must be employed. The museum should be part of the itinerary but other things more akin to the tastes of the uninterested party should also be included. We do what I want, but then we can also do your thing too! Of course the variety and scope f the museum may change their mind and they may open up to the idea, however after witnessing so many glum faces being dragged around the halls, it is probably unlikely.
Of course finally for the real art fanatics and cultural connoisseurs, do not think too much, you will adore the museum. Its collection is one of the finest in the world, Yes it is probably second to the Louvre, and maybe a tie with the British Museum, but these are exulted competitors to even be tangling with shows how incredible the collection truly is!
Have Your Say
Let us know your thoughts and experiences on visiting the Metropolitan Museum Of Art. How did you find your visit? What were the highlights and standout pieces? What did you enjoy most and what did you find less exciting? Maybe the Museum was a letdown? If so what did you find disappointing? Whatever your opinion, feel free to let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear from you.
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