The Met

October 10, 2010

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, known colloquially as The Met, is an art museum located on the eastern edge of Central Park, along what is known as Museum Mile in New York City. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works of art, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, often referred to simply as “the Met”, is one of the world’s largest art galleries.

Represented in the permanent collection are works of art from classical antiquity and Ancient Egypt, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and modern art. The Met also maintains extensive holdings of African, Asian, Oceanic, Byzantine, and Islamic art. The museum is also home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories, and antique weapons and armor from around the world. A number of notable interiors, ranging from 1st century Rome through modern American design, are permanently installed in the Met’s galleries.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens. The founders included businessmen and financiers, as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day, who wanted to open a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. It opened on February 20, 1872, and was originally located at 681 Fifth Avenue.  The distinctive Beaux-Arts facade, designed by architect and Met trustee Richard Morris Hunt was completed in 1902.

I had the pleasure of visiting the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park this weekend when I was exploring the Hudson River Valley and was taken by how similar the Beaux-Arts architecture was the that of the Met.  The Vanderbilt Mansion is one of America’s premier examples of the country palaces built by wealthy industrialists during the Gilded Age.  The severe classicism, balance, and heavy ornamentation of Hyde Park, designed for Frederick Vanderbilt by McKim, Mead & White, is a typical example of Beaux-Arts architecture.

The 54-room mansion by the distinguished architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, with Charles Follen McKim laying out the plan and Stanford White assisting by serving as an antiques buyer. Designed and built between 1896-1899, the house is a perfect example of the Beaux-Arts architecture style and one of the architects’ finest residential projects. The interiors of the mansion are archetypes of the American Renaissance, incorporating a range of European antiques and finely crafted period reproductions.


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