The Metropolitan Museum of art is the largest museum in the western hemisphere. Its collection, some two million items, is not only board-the entire world, from antiquity to the present-but deep with holdings so large in a number of areas that some way to approach this vast repository is to understand the museum’s arrangement and select a limited number of areas to see during your visit. Those who do not, usually come away feeling overwhelmed.
The museum itself is a very large structure. Study it from a fifth avenue side before you go in. Large hanging banners announce inportant temporary exhibits. You might decide to choose one of these, but if you plan to stay longer, orient yourself to the building and identify basic loctions for some of the most popular collections. Think of the museum as a rectangle with a central stairway in the middle that divides left and right. Then divide each side into front and back . Look at the twin columns flanking the entrance. On the front right side of those columns is the Egyptian Collection, and on the back side, the American Wing. To the front left side of the columns you will find Greek and Roman art and then a self service cafeteria and restuarant. On the back left side is the Lila Atcheson Wallace Wing with 20th-century art. In between are the arts of Africa, Ocenia, and the Americas.
Once you enter and pay your admission, if you walk up the grand staircase immediately in front of you, you will be on the second floor in what many consider to be the heart of this museum, its superior collection of European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts.
Planning What to See
When you enter, pick up a floor plan and take time to look it over and write your choices on it and then plan where to start . If you do not want to go on your own , there are guides and recorded tours to take you through almost every tours to take you through almost every part of the museum. A relaxing way to enjoy the ambience , architecture, and sheer beauty of the interior is to visit after 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday . Then you can tae tea or have drinks on the balcony, while in the Great Hall a tring quartet performs classical music, often playing on ancient instruments from the Metropolitan’s own collections. Many people are drawn by blockbuster shows. Some of these-the 1978 ” Treasures of Tutankhamun,” for example, or the Mona Lisa’s frantic visit to the Metropolitan in 1963-are major events in the cultural life of the city. But just as important to the world of art are works unveiled for the first time, such as those in the 2005 ” Master Photographs from the Gilman Collection: A Landmark Acquisition.”
There are even reasons other than art to visit the Met. In addition to lectures, concerts, and films, there is a reference facility and print study rooms. The Uris Center on the ground floor has its own library and classrooms and publishes educational books and films. The museum also offers an array of shopping options. The first floor museum store is stocked to overflowing with separate boutique shops and features not just books and reproductions covering the whole history of world art, but fien jewelry, scarves, children’s toys and games, recordings, three dimensional reproductions, and more. It is a unique source of gifts for all occassions, with a mail order catalog as well . Food options include the rooftop cafe’ and the first floor cafeteria and restuarant. But there is no truer New Yor pastime than buying food from a vendor outside and sitting on the steps, often never even venturing a foot inside.
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