Metropolitan Museum of Art
Overview
 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially The Met) is a renowned art museum in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park
Central Park
Central Park is a public park in the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park initially opened in 1857, on of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan...

 along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the world's largest art galleries. There is also a much smaller second location at "The Cloisters
The Cloisters
The Cloisters is a museum located in Fort Tryon Park, New York City. The building, which is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was reconstructed in the 1930s from the architectural elements of several European medieval abbeys...

" in Upper Manhattan
Upper Manhattan
Upper Manhattan denotes the more northerly region of the New York City Borough of Manhattan. Its southern boundary may be defined anywhere between 59th Street and 155th Street. Between these two extremes lies the most common definitions of Upper Manhattan as Manhattan above 96th Street...

 that features medieval art
Medieval art
The medieval art of the Western world covers a vast scope of time and place, over 1000 years of art history in Europe, and at times the Middle East and North Africa...

.

Represented in the permanent collection are works of art from classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 and Ancient Egypt
Art of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egyptian art is the painting, sculpture, architecture and other arts produced by the civilization in the lower Nile Valley from 5000 BC to 300 AD. Ancient Egyptian art reached a high level in painting and sculpture, and was both highly stylized and symbolic...

, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European
Western painting
The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity. Until the mid-19th century it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor.Developments...

 masters, and an extensive collection of American
Visual arts of the United States
American art encompasses the history of painting and visual art in the United States. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, artists primarily painted landscapes and portraits in a realistic style. A parallel development taking shape in rural America was the American craft movement,...

 and modern
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

 art.
Encyclopedia
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially The Met) is a renowned art museum in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. Its permanent collection contains more than two million works, divided into nineteen curatorial departments. The main building, located on the eastern edge of Central Park
Central Park
Central Park is a public park in the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park initially opened in 1857, on of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan...

 along Manhattan's Museum Mile, is one of the world's largest art galleries. There is also a much smaller second location at "The Cloisters
The Cloisters
The Cloisters is a museum located in Fort Tryon Park, New York City. The building, which is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was reconstructed in the 1930s from the architectural elements of several European medieval abbeys...

" in Upper Manhattan
Upper Manhattan
Upper Manhattan denotes the more northerly region of the New York City Borough of Manhattan. Its southern boundary may be defined anywhere between 59th Street and 155th Street. Between these two extremes lies the most common definitions of Upper Manhattan as Manhattan above 96th Street...

 that features medieval art
Medieval art
The medieval art of the Western world covers a vast scope of time and place, over 1000 years of art history in Europe, and at times the Middle East and North Africa...

.

Represented in the permanent collection are works of art from classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 and Ancient Egypt
Art of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egyptian art is the painting, sculpture, architecture and other arts produced by the civilization in the lower Nile Valley from 5000 BC to 300 AD. Ancient Egyptian art reached a high level in painting and sculpture, and was both highly stylized and symbolic...

, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European
Western painting
The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity. Until the mid-19th century it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor.Developments...

 masters, and an extensive collection of American
Visual arts of the United States
American art encompasses the history of painting and visual art in the United States. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, artists primarily painted landscapes and portraits in a realistic style. A parallel development taking shape in rural America was the American craft movement,...

 and modern
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

 art. The Met also maintains extensive holdings of African
African art
African art constitutes one of the most diverse legacies on earth. Though many casual observers tend to generalize "traditional" African art, the continent is full of people, societies, and civilizations, each with a unique visual special culture. The definition also includes the art of the African...

, Asian
Asian art
Asian art can refer to art amongst many cultures in Asia.-Various types of Asian art:*Afghan art*Azerbaijanian art*Balinese art*Bhutanese art*Buddhist art*Burmese contemporary art*Chinese art*Eastern art*Indian art*Iranian art*Islamic art...

, Oceanic, Byzantine
Byzantine art
Byzantine art is the term commonly used to describe the artistic products of the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453....

, and Islamic
Islamic art
Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced from the 7th century onwards by people who lived within the territory that was inhabited by or ruled by culturally Islamic populations...

 art. The museum is also home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories, and antique weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

s and armor from around the world. Several 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.

As of 2007, the Met measures almost 1/4 mi long and occupies more than 2000000 ft2.

Collections

The Met's permanent collection is cared for and exhibited by seventeen separate curatorial departments, each with a specialized staff of curator
Curator
A curator is a manager or overseer. Traditionally, a curator or keeper of a cultural heritage institution is a content specialist responsible for an institution's collections and involved with the interpretation of heritage material...

s and scholars, as well as four dedicated conservation departments and a department of scientific research.

Represented in the permanent collection are works of art from classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

 and Ancient Egypt
Art of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egyptian art is the painting, sculpture, architecture and other arts produced by the civilization in the lower Nile Valley from 5000 BC to 300 AD. Ancient Egyptian art reached a high level in painting and sculpture, and was both highly stylized and symbolic...

, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European
Western painting
The history of Western painting represents a continuous, though disrupted, tradition from antiquity. Until the mid-19th century it was primarily concerned with representational and Classical modes of production, after which time more modern, abstract and conceptual forms gained favor.Developments...

 masters, and an extensive collection of American
Visual arts of the United States
American art encompasses the history of painting and visual art in the United States. In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, artists primarily painted landscapes and portraits in a realistic style. A parallel development taking shape in rural America was the American craft movement,...

 and modern art
Modern art
Modern art includes artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of...

. The Met also maintains extensive holdings of African
African art
African art constitutes one of the most diverse legacies on earth. Though many casual observers tend to generalize "traditional" African art, the continent is full of people, societies, and civilizations, each with a unique visual special culture. The definition also includes the art of the African...

, Asian
Asian art
Asian art can refer to art amongst many cultures in Asia.-Various types of Asian art:*Afghan art*Azerbaijanian art*Balinese art*Bhutanese art*Buddhist art*Burmese contemporary art*Chinese art*Eastern art*Indian art*Iranian art*Islamic art...

, Oceanic, Byzantine
Byzantine art
Byzantine art is the term commonly used to describe the artistic products of the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453....

 and Islamic art
Islamic art
Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced from the 7th century onwards by people who lived within the territory that was inhabited by or ruled by culturally Islamic populations...

. The museum is also home to encyclopedic collections of musical instruments, costumes and accessories, and antique weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

s 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.

In addition to its permanent exhibitions, the Met organizes and hosts large traveling shows throughout the year.

At present (January 2001), the director of the museum is Thomas P. Campbell
Thomas P. Campbell
Thomas P. Campbell, Ph.D. , is the ninth director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. After fourteen years as a curator in the Department of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, specializing in tapestries, he was elected Director and CEO on September 9, 2008...

, a long-time curator, who replaced Philippe de Montebello
Philippe de Montebello
Philippe de Montebello served from 1977 to 2008 as the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. On his retirement, he was both the longest-serving director in the institution's history, and the longest-serving director of any major art museum in the world...

 following his retirement at the end of 2008.

American decorative arts

The American Decorative Arts Department includes about 12,000 examples of American decorative art
Decorative art
The decorative arts is traditionally a term for the design and manufacture of functional objects. It includes interior design, but not usually architecture. The decorative arts are often categorized in opposition to the "fine arts", namely, painting, drawing, photography, and large-scale...

, ranging from the late 17th to the early 20th centuries. Though the Met acquired its first major holdings of American decorative arts via a 1909 donation by Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage
Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage
Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage was an American philanthropist. Upon the death of her husband Russell Sage she received a fortune estimated at more than $50,000,000, to be used as she saw fit...

, wife of the financier Russell Sage
Russell Sage
Russell Sage was a financier, railroad executive and Whig politician from New York, United States. As a frequent partner of Jay Gould in various transactions, he amassed a fortune, which passed to his second wife, Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage, when he died...

, a decorative arts department specifically dedicated to American works was not established until 1934. One of the prizes of the Department is its extensive collection of American stained glass
Stained glass
The term stained glass can refer to coloured glass as a material or to works produced from it. Throughout its thousand-year history, the term has been applied almost exclusively to the windows of churches and other significant buildings...

. This collection, probably the most comprehensive in the world, includes many pieces by Louis Comfort Tiffany
Louis Comfort Tiffany
Louis Comfort Tiffany was an American artist and designer who worked in the decorative arts and is best known for his work in stained glass. He is the American artist most associated with the Art Nouveau  and Aesthetic movements...

, Henry E. Sharp
Henry E. Sharp
Henry E. Sharp was a nineteenth-century American stained glass maker active with William Steele from c.1850 to c.1897.Sharp established himself with Steele as a glass stainer at offices at 216 Sixth Avenue....

, William Jay Bolton, and John LaFarge
John LaFarge
John La Farge was an American painter, muralist, stained glass window maker, decorator, and writer.-Biography:...

. The Department maintains twenty-five period rooms in the museum, each of which recreates an entire room, complete with furnishings, from a noted period or designer. The Department's current holdings also include an extensive silver
Silver
Silver is a metallic chemical element with the chemical symbol Ag and atomic number 47. A soft, white, lustrous transition metal, it has the highest electrical conductivity of any element and the highest thermal conductivity of any metal...

 collection notable for numerous pieces by Paul Revere
Paul Revere
Paul Revere was an American silversmith and a patriot in the American Revolution. He is most famous for alerting Colonial militia of approaching British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord, as dramatized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, Paul Revere's Ride...

 as well as Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co.
Tiffany & Co. is an American jewelry and silverware company. As part of its branding, the company is strongly associated with its Tiffany Blue , which is a registered trademark.- History :...


American paintings and sculpture

Since its founding, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has placed a particular emphasis on collecting American art. The first piece to enter the Met's collection was an allegorical sculpture
Allegorical sculpture
Allegorical sculpture refers to sculptures that symbolize and particularly personify abstract ideas as in allegory.Common in the western world, for example, are statues of 'Justice', a female figure traditionally holding scales in one hand, as a symbol of her weighing issues and arguments, and a...

 by Hiram Powers
Hiram Powers
Hiram Powers was an American neoclassical sculptor.-Biography:The son of a farmer, Powers was born in Woodstock, Vermont, on the July 29, 1805. In 1818 his father moved to Ohio, about six miles from Cincinnati, where the son attended school for about a year, staying meanwhile with his brother, a...

 titled California, acquired in 1870, which can still be seen in the Met's galleries today. In the following decades, the Met's collection of American paintings and sculpture has grown to include more than one thousand paintings, six hundred sculptures, and 2,600 drawings, covering the entire range of American art from the early Colonial period through the early 20th century. Many of the best-known American paintings are held in the Met's collection, including a portrait of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 by Gilbert Stuart
Gilbert Stuart
Gilbert Charles Stuart was an American painter from Rhode Island.Gilbert Stuart is widely considered to be one of America's foremost portraitists...

 and Emanuel Leutze's
Emanuel Leutze
Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze was a German American history painter best known for his painting Washington Crossing the Delaware.-Philadelphia:...

 monumental Washington Crossing the Delaware
Washington Crossing the Delaware
Washington Crossing the Delaware is an 1851 oil-on-canvas painting by German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze. It commemorates General George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River on December 25, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War...

. The collection also includes masterpieces by such notable American painters as Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer
Winslow Homer was an American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He is considered one of the foremost painters in 19th century America and a preeminent figure in American art....

, George Caleb Bingham
George Caleb Bingham
George Caleb Bingham was an American artist whose paintings of American life in the frontier lands along the Missouri River exemplify the Luminist style. Left to languish in obscurity, Bingham's work was rediscovered in the 1930s...

, John Singer Sargent
John Singer Sargent
John Singer Sargent was an American artist, considered the "leading portrait painter of his generation" for his evocations of Edwardian era luxury. During his career, he created roughly 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, as well as countless sketches and charcoal drawings...

, James McNeill Whistler
James McNeill Whistler
James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American-born, British-based artist. Averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, he was a leading proponent of the credo "art for art's sake". His famous signature for his paintings was in the shape of a stylized butterfly possessing a long stinger...

, and Thomas Eakins
Thomas Eakins
Thomas Cowperthwait Eakins was an American realist painter, photographer, sculptor, and fine arts educator...

.

Ancient Near Eastern art

Beginning in the late 19th century, the Met started to acquire ancient art and artifacts from the Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

. From a few cuneiform
Cuneiform
Cuneiform can refer to:*Cuneiform script, an ancient writing system originating in Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC*Cuneiform , three bones in the human foot*Cuneiform Records, a music record label...

 tablets and seals
Seal (device)
A seal can be a figure impressed in wax, clay, or some other medium, or embossed on paper, with the purpose of authenticating a document ; but the term can also mean the device for making such impressions, being essentially a mould with the mirror image of the design carved in sunken- relief or...

, the Met's collection of Near Eastern art has grown to more than 7,000 pieces. Representing a history of the region beginning in the Neolithic Period and encompassing the fall of the Sassanian Empire and the end of Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

, the collection includes works from the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian, Hittite
Hittites
The Hittites were a Bronze Age people of Anatolia.They established a kingdom centered at Hattusa in north-central Anatolia c. the 18th century BC. The Hittite empire reached its height c...

, Sassanian, Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

n, Babylonian and Elamite cultures (among others), as well as an extensive collection of unique Bronze Age
Bronze Age
The Bronze Age is a period characterized by the use of copper and its alloy bronze as the chief hard materials in the manufacture of some implements and weapons. Chronologically, it stands between the Stone Age and Iron Age...

 objects. The highlights of the collection include a set of monumental stone lammasu, or guardian figures, from the Northwest Palace of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II.http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/assy/hd_assy.htm

Arms and armor

The Met's Department of Arms and Armor is one of the museum's most popular collections. The distinctive "parade" of armored figures on horseback installed in the first-floor Arms and Armor gallery is one of the most recognizable images of the museum. The department's focus on "outstanding craftsmanship and decoration", including pieces intended solely for display, means that the collection is strongest in late medieval
Late Middle Ages
The Late Middle Ages was the period of European history generally comprising the 14th to the 16th century . The Late Middle Ages followed the High Middle Ages and preceded the onset of the early modern era ....

 Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an pieces and Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese pieces from the 5th through the 19th centuries. However, these are not the only cultures represented in Arms and Armor; the collection spans more geographic regions than almost any other department, including weapons and armor from dynastic Egypt
Early Dynastic Period of Egypt
The Archaic or Early Dynastic Period of Egypt immediately follows the unification of Lower and Upper Egypt c. 3100 BC. It is generally taken to include the First and Second Dynasties, lasting from the Protodynastic Period of Egypt until about 2686 BC, or the beginning of the Old Kingdom...

, ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, the ancient Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

, Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

, Oceania
Oceania
Oceania is a region centered on the islands of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Conceptions of what constitutes Oceania range from the coral atolls and volcanic islands of the South Pacific to the entire insular region between Asia and the Americas, including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago...

, and the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, as well as American firearms (especially Colt
Colt's Manufacturing Company
Colt's Manufacturing Company is a United States firearms manufacturer, whose first predecessor corporation was founded in 1836 by Sam Colt. Colt is best known for the engineering, production, and marketing of firearms over the later half of the 19th and the 20th century...

 firearms) from the 19th and 20th centuries. Among the collection's 15,000 objects are many pieces made for and used by kings and princes, including armor belonging to Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

, Henry II of France
Henry II of France
Henry II was King of France from 31 March 1547 until his death in 1559.-Early years:Henry was born in the royal Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, the son of Francis I and Claude, Duchess of Brittany .His father was captured at the Battle of Pavia in 1525 by his sworn enemy,...

 and Ferdinand I of Germany.

Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

Though the Met first acquired a group of Peruvian antiquities in 1882, the museum did not begin a concerted effort to collect works from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas until 1969, when American businessman and philanthropist
Philanthropist
A philanthropist is someone who engages in philanthropy; that is, someone who donates his or her time, money, and/or reputation to charitable causes...

 Nelson A. Rockefeller
Nelson Rockefeller
Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller was the 41st Vice President of the United States , serving under President Gerald Ford, and the 49th Governor of New York , as well as serving the Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower administrations in a variety of positions...

 donated his more than 3,000-piece collection to the museum. Today, the Met's collection contains more than 11,000 pieces from sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

, the Pacific Islands
Pacific Islands
The Pacific Islands comprise 20,000 to 30,000 islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands are also sometimes collectively called Oceania, although Oceania is sometimes defined as also including Australasia and the Malay Archipelago....

 and the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 and is housed in the 40000 square feet (3,716.1 m²) Rockefeller Wing on the south end of the museum. The collection ranges from 40,000-year-old Australian Aboriginal rock paintings, to a group of 15 feet (4.6 m) memorial poles carved by the Asmat people
Asmat people
The Asmat are an ethnic group of New Guinea, residing in the Papua province of Indonesia. Possessing one of the most well-known and vibrant woodcarving traditions in the Pacific, their art is sought by collectors worldwide...

 of New Guinea
New Guinea
New Guinea is the world's second largest island, after Greenland, covering a land area of 786,000 km2. Located in the southwest Pacific Ocean, it lies geographically to the east of the Malay Archipelago, with which it is sometimes included as part of a greater Indo-Australian Archipelago...

, to a priceless collection of ceremonial and personal objects from the Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

n Court of Benin
Benin Empire
The Benin Empire was a pre-colonial African state in what is now modern Nigeria. It is not to be confused with the modern-day country called Benin, formerly called Dahomey.-Origin:...

 donated by Klaus Perls
Klaus Perls
Klaus Gunther Perls was born in Berlin, Germany, where his parents were art dealers. He studied art history in Munich, but after the Nazis stopped granting degrees to Jews he moved to Basel, Switzerland and completed his studies...

. The range of materials represented in the Africa, Oceania, and Americas collection is undoubtedly the widest of any department at the Met, including everything from precious metals to porcupine
Porcupine
Porcupines are rodents with a coat of sharp spines, or quills, that defend or camouflage them from predators. They are indigenous to the Americas, southern Asia, and Africa. Porcupines are the third largest of the rodents, behind the capybara and the beaver. Most porcupines are about long, with...

 quills.

Asian art

The Met's Asian department holds a collection of Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n art that is arguably the most comprehensive in the US. The collection dates back almost to the founding of the museum: many of the philanthropists who made the earliest gifts to the museum included Asian art in their collections. Today, an entire wing of the museum is dedicated to the Asian collection, which contains more than 60,000 pieces and spans 4,000 years of Asian art. Every Asian civilization is represented in the Met's Asian department, and the pieces on display include every type of decorative art, from painting and printmaking to sculpture and metalworking. The department is well known for its comprehensive collection of Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 calligraphy and painting
Chinese painting
Chinese painting is one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world. The earliest paintings were not representational but ornamental; they consisted of patterns or designs rather than pictures. Early pottery was painted with spirals, zigzags, dots, or animals...

, as well as for its Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

ese and Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

an works. However, not only "art" and ritual objects are represented in the collection; many of the best-known pieces are functional objects. The Asian wing even contains a complete Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

-style Astor garden court
Astor Court
The Astor Court, located in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City New York, United States, is a re-creation of a Ming Dynasty-style, Chinese-garden courtyard.The first permanent cultural exchange between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China,...

, modeled on a courtyard in the Garden of the Master of the Fishing Nets
Master of the Nets Garden
The Master of the Nets Garden in Suzhou is among the finest gardens in China. It is located at Canglang District, Dai Cheng Qiao Road, No. 11 Kuo Jia Tou Xiang . It is recognized with other classical Suzhou gardens as a UNESCO World Heritage Site...

 in Suzhou
Suzhou
Suzhou , previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part...

.

The Costume Institute

The Museum of Costume Art was founded by Aline Bernstein
Aline Bernstein
Aline Bernstein was an American costume designer. She and Irene Lewisohn founded the Museum of Costume Art. -Early life and family:...

 and Irene Lewisohn
Irene Lewisohn
Irene Lewisohn was the founder of the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Museum of Costume Art.-Biography:She was the daughter of Rosalie Jacobs and Leonard Lewisohn. In 1905 she and her sister, Alice Lewisohn, began classes and club work at the Henry Street Settlement House in New York. They produced...

. In 1937, they merged with the Met and became its Costume Institute department. Today, its collection contains more than 80,000 costumes and accessories. The Costume Institute used to have a permanent gallery space in what was known as the "Basement" area of the Met because it was downstairs at the bottom of the Met facility. However, due to the fragile nature of the items in the collection, the Costume Institute does not maintain a permanent installation. Instead, every year it holds two separate shows in the Met's galleries using costumes from its collection, with each show centering on a specific designer or theme. In past years, Costume Institute shows organized around famous designers such as Cristóbal Balenciaga
Cristóbal Balenciaga
Cristóbal Balenciaga Eizaguirre was a Spanish Basque fashion designer and the founder of the Balenciaga fashion house....

, Chanel
Chanel
Chanel S.A. is a French fashion house founded by the couturier Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, well established in haute couture, specializing in luxury goods . She gained the name "Coco" while maintaining a career as a singer at a café in France...

, Yves Saint Laurent, and Gianni Versace
Gianni Versace
Gianni Versace was an Italian fashion designer and founder of Gianni Versace S.p.A., an international fashion house, which produces accessories, fragrances, makeup and home furnishings as well as clothes. He also designed costumes for the theatre and films, and was a friend of Madonna, Elton John,...

; and style doyenne like Diana Vreeland
Diana Vreeland
Diana Vreeland was a noted columnist and editor in the field of fashion. She worked for the fashion magazines Harper's Bazaar and Vogue and the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.Born as Diana Dalziel, Vreeland was the eldest daughter of American socialite mother Emily Key Hoffman...

, Mona von Bismarck
Mona von Bismarck
Mona Travis Strader , known as Mona Bismarck, was an American socialite and fashion icon. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1958.-Early life:...

, Babe Paley
Babe Paley
Barbara "Babe" Cushing Mortimer Paley was an American socialite and style icon. She was known by the popular nickname "Babe" for most of her life. She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1958....

, Jayne Wrightsman
Jayne Wrightsman
Jayne Wrightsman is an American philanthropist, fine arts collector and widow of philanthropist and art collector, Charles B. Wrightsman . She was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1965.-References:...

, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier "Jackie" Kennedy Onassis was the wife of the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and served as First Lady of the United States during his presidency from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Five years later she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle...

, Nan Kempner
Nan Kempner
Nan Kempner was a New York City socialite, famous for dominating society events, shopping, charity work and fashion.She was born as Nan Field Schlesinger in San Francisco, an only child from a wealthy family...

 and Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel
Iris Apfel is an American businesswoman, former interior designer, and fashion icon.-Background and early life:...

 have drawn significant crowds to the Met. The Costume Institute's annual Benefit Gala
Met Ball
The Costume Institute Gala , known as the Met Ball and nicknamed the "Oscars of the East Coast", is an annual ball that celebrates the annual opening of the Metropolitan Museum's fashion exhibit at the Costume Institute...

, co-chaired by Vogue
Vogue (magazine)
Vogue is a fashion and lifestyle magazine that is published monthly in 18 national and one regional edition by Condé Nast.-History:In 1892 Arthur Turnure founded Vogue as a weekly publication in the United States. When he died in 1909, Condé Montrose Nast picked up the magazine and slowly began...

editor-in-chief Anna Wintour
Anna Wintour
Anna Wintour, OBE is the British-born editor-in-chief of American Vogue, a position she has held since 1988. With her trademark pageboy bob haircut and sunglasses, Wintour has become an institution throughout the fashion world, widely praised for her eye for fashion trends and her support for...

, is an extremely popular, if exclusive, event in the fashion world; in 2007, the 700 available tickets started at $6,500 per person.
Exhibits displayed over the past decade in the Costume Institute include:
Rock Style, in 1999, representing the style of more than 40 rock musicians, including Madonna
Madonna (entertainer)
Madonna is an American singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur. Born in Bay City, Michigan, she moved to New York City in 1977 to pursue a career in modern dance. After performing in the music groups Breakfast Club and Emmy, she released her debut album in 1983...

, David Bowie
David Bowie
David Bowie is an English musician, actor, record producer and arranger. A major figure for over four decades in the world of popular music, Bowie is widely regarded as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s...

, and The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

,
Extreme Beauty: The Body Transformed, in 2001, which exposes the transforming ideas of physical beauty over time and the bodily contortion necessary to accommodate such ideals and fashion,
The Chanel
Chanel
Chanel S.A. is a French fashion house founded by the couturier Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, well established in haute couture, specializing in luxury goods . She gained the name "Coco" while maintaining a career as a singer at a café in France...

 Exhibit, displayed in 2005, acknowledging the skilled work of designer Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel
Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel was a pioneering French fashion designer whose modernist thought, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important figure in 20th-century fashion. She was the founder of one of the most famous fashion brands, Chanel...

 as one of the leading fashion names in history,
Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy, exhibited in 2008, suggesting the metaphorical vision of superheroes as ultimate fashion icons,
and, most recently, the 2010 exhibit on the American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity, which exposes the revolutionary styles of the American woman from the years 1890 to 1940, and how such styles reflect the political and social sentiments of the time.
Each of these exhibits explores fashion as a mirror of cultural values and offers a glimpse into historical styles, emphasizing their evolution into today's own fashion world.

Drawings and prints

Though other departments contain significant numbers of drawing
Drawing
Drawing is a form of visual art that makes use of any number of drawing instruments to mark a two-dimensional medium. Common instruments include graphite pencils, pen and ink, inked brushes, wax color pencils, crayons, charcoal, chalk, pastels, markers, styluses, and various metals .An artist who...

s and prints
Printmaking
Printmaking is the process of making artworks by printing, normally on paper. Printmaking normally covers only the process of creating prints with an element of originality, rather than just being a photographic reproduction of a painting. Except in the case of monotyping, the process is capable...

, the Drawings and Prints department specifically concentrates on North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n pieces and western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

an works produced after the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. Currently, the Drawings and Prints collection contains more than 11,000 drawings, 1.5 million prints, and twelve thousand illustrated books. The collection has been steadily growing ever since the first bequest of 670 drawings donated to the museum by Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt
Cornelius Vanderbilt , also known by the sobriquet Commodore, was an American entrepreneur who built his wealth in shipping and railroads. He was also the patriarch of the Vanderbilt family and one of the richest Americans in history...

 in 1880. The great masters of European painting, who produced many more sketches and drawings than actual paintings, are extensively represented in the Drawing and Prints collection. The department's holdings contain major drawings by Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

, Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance...

, and Rembrandt, as well as prints and etchings by Van Dyck
Anthony van Dyck
Sir Anthony van Dyck was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England. He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next...

, Dürer
Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer was a German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist from Nuremberg. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance ever since...

, and Degas
Edgar Degas
Edgar Degas[p] , born Hilaire-Germain-Edgar De Gas, was a French artist famous for his work in painting, sculpture, printmaking and drawing. He is regarded as one of the founders of Impressionism although he rejected the term, and preferred to be called a realist...

 among many others.

Egyptian art

Though the majority of the Met's initial holdings of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian art came from private collections, items uncovered during the museum's own archeological excavations, carried out between 1906 and 1941, constitute almost half of the current collection. More than 36,000 separate pieces of Egyptian art from the Paleolithic
Paleolithic
The Paleolithic Age, Era or Period, is a prehistoric period of human history distinguished by the development of the most primitive stone tools discovered , and covers roughly 99% of human technological prehistory...

 era through the Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 era constitute the Met's Egyptian collection, and almost all of them are on display in the museum's massive wing of 40 Egyptian galleries. Among the most valuable pieces in the Met's Egyptian collection are 13 wooden models (of the total 24 models found together, 12 models and 1 offering bearer figure is at the Met, while the remaining 10 models and 1 offering bearer figure are in the Egyptian Museum
Egyptian Museum
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, known commonly as the Egyptian Museum, in Cairo, Egypt, is home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities. It has 120,000 items, with a representative amount on display, the remainder in storerooms....

 in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

), discovered in a tomb in the Southern Asasif in western Thebes
Thebes, Egypt
Thebes is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.-History:...

 in 1920. These models depict, in unparalleled detail, a cross-section of Egyptian life in the early Middle Kingdom
Middle Kingdom of Egypt
The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Fourteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate...

: boats, gardens, and scenes of daily life are represented in miniature. However, the popular centerpiece of the Egyptian Art department continues to be the Temple of Dendur
Temple of Dendur
The Temple of Dendur is a temple that was built by the Roman governor of Egypt, Petronius, around 15 BC and dedicated to Isis, Osiris, as well as two deified sons of a local Nubian chieftain, Pediese and Pihor...

. Dismantled by the Egyptian government to save it from rising waters caused by the building of the Aswan High Dam, the large sandstone
Sandstone
Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed mainly of sand-sized minerals or rock grains.Most sandstone is composed of quartz and/or feldspar because these are the most common minerals in the Earth's crust. Like sand, sandstone may be any colour, but the most common colours are tan, brown, yellow,...

 temple was given to the United States in 1965 and assembled in the Met's Sackler Wing in 1978. Situated in a large room, partially surrounded by a reflecting pool and illuminated by a wall of windows opening onto Central Park, the Temple of Dendur is one of the Met's most enduring attractions. The oldest items at the Met, a set of Archeulian flints from Deir el-Bahri
Deir el-Bahri
Deir el-Bahari or Deir el-Bahri is a complex of mortuary temples and tombs located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite the city of Luxor, Egypt....

 which date from the Lower Paleolithic
Lower Paleolithic
The Lower Paleolithic is the earliest subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. It spans the time from around 2.5 million years ago when the first evidence of craft and use of stone tools by hominids appears in the current archaeological record, until around 300,000 years ago, spanning the...

 period (between 300,000 - 75,000 BC), are part of the Egyptian collection.

European paintings

Though the Met's collection of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an paintings numbers only around 2,200 pieces, it contains many of the world's most instantly recognizable paintings. The bulk of the Met's purchasing has always been in this department, primarily focusing on Old Master
Old Master
"Old Master" is a term for a European painter of skill who worked before about 1800, or a painting by such an artist. An "old master print" is an original print made by an artist in the same period...

s and 19th century European paintings, with an emphasis on French, Italian and Dutch artists. Many great artists are represented in remarkable depth in the Met's holdings: the museum owns thirty-seven paintings by Monet, twenty-one oils by Cézanne
Paul Cézanne
Paul Cézanne was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cézanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th...

, and eighteen Rembrandts including Aristotle With a Bust of Homer. The Met's five paintings by Vermeer represent the largest collection of the artist's work anywhere in the world. Other highlights of the collection include Van Gogh's
Vincent van Gogh
Vincent Willem van Gogh , and used Brabant dialect in his writing; it is therefore likely that he himself pronounced his name with a Brabant accent: , with a voiced V and palatalized G and gh. In France, where much of his work was produced, it is...

 Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, Pieter Bruegel the Elder's The Harvesters
The Harvesters
The Harvesters is an oil on wood painting by Pieter Bruegel in 1565. The painting is one in a series of six works, five of which are still extant, that depict different times of the year. As in many of his paintings, the focus is on peasants and their work...

, Georges de La Tour's
Georges de La Tour
Georges de La Tour was a French Baroque painter, who spent most of his working life in the Duchy of Lorraine, which was temporarily absorbed into France between 1641 and 1648...

 The Fortune Teller
The Fortune Teller (de La Tour painting)
The Fortune Teller is an oil painting of circa 1630 by the French artist Georges de La Tour. The work was uncovered in about 1960 and purchased that year by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York...

, El Greco's View of Toledo
View of Toledo
View of Toledo, is one of the two surviving landscapes painted by El Greco. The other, called View and Plan of Toledo lies at Museo Del Greco, Toledo, Spain....

, Raphael's Colonna Altarpiece
Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints (Raphael)
The Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints , also known as the Colonna Altarpiece, is a painting by the Italian High Renaissance artist Raphael, circa 1504. It is housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City...

, Botticelli's Last Communion of St Jerome
Last Communion of St Jerome (Botticelli)
The Last Communion of St. Jerome is a painting by the Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli, finished around 1494-1495. It is housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City....

, and Jacques-Louis David's
Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David was an influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the preeminent painter of the era...

 The Death of Socrates
The Death of Socrates
The Death of Socrates is a 1787 painting by the French painter Jacques-Louis David.It represents the scene of the death of Greek philosopher Socrates, condemned to die by drinking hemlock, for the expression of his ideas against those of Athens' and corrupting the minds of the youth...

. In recent decades, the Met has carried out a policy of deaccessioning its "minor" holdings in order to purchase a smaller number of "world-class" pieces. Though this policy remains controversial, it has gained a number of outstanding (and outstandingly expensive) masterpieces for the European Paintings collection, beginning with Velázquez's
Diego Velázquez
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period, important as a portrait artist...

 Portrait of Juan de Pareja
Portrait of Juan de Pareja
The Portrait of Juan de Pareja is a painting by Spanish artist Diego Velázquez, dating from around 1650 and currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, United States.-History:...

in 1971. A more recent purchase is Duccio
Duccio
Duccio di Buoninsegna was one of the most influential Italian artists of his time. Born in Siena, Tuscany, he worked mostly with pigment and egg tempera and like most of his contemporaries painted religious subjects...

's Madonna and Child
Madonna and Child (Duccio)
Madonna and Child is a panel painting by Italian medieval artist Duccio di Buoninsegna. Painted in tempera with gilding on wood panel around the year 1300, it depicts Mary, the mother of Jesus holding the infant Jesus...

, which cost the museum more than $45 million, more than twice the amount it had paid for any previous painting. The painting itself, which is only slightly larger than 9 by, has been called "the Met's Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa is a portrait by the Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is a painting in oil on a poplar panel, completed circa 1503–1519...

".

European sculpture and decorative arts

The European Sculpture and Decorative Arts collection is one of the largest departments at the Met, holding in excess of 50,000 separate pieces from the 15th through the early 20th centuries. Though the collection is particularly concentrated in Renaissance sculpture—much of which can be seen in situ surrounded by contemporary furnishings and decoration—it also contains comprehensive holdings of furniture, jewelry, glass and ceramic pieces, tapestries, textiles, and timepieces and mathematical instruments. In addition to its outstanding collections of English and French furniture, visitors can enter dozens of completely furnished period rooms, transplanted in their entirety into the Met's galleries. The collection even includes an entire 16th century patio
Patio
A patio is an outdoor space generally used for dining or recreation that adjoins a residence and is typically paved. It may refer to a roofless inner courtyard of the sort found in Spanish-style dwellings or a paved area between a residence and a garden....

 from the Spanish castle of Vélez Blanco, reconstructed in a two-story gallery, and the intarsia studiolo from the ducal palace at Gubbio. Sculptural highlights of the sprawling department include Bernini's Bacchanal, a cast of Rodin's
Auguste Rodin
François-Auguste-René Rodin , known as Auguste Rodin , was a French sculptor. Although Rodin is generally considered the progenitor of modern sculpture, he did not set out to rebel against the past...

 The Burghers of Calais
The Burghers of Calais
Les Bourgeois de Calais is one of the most famous sculptures by Auguste Rodin, completed in 1889. It serves as a monument to an occurrence in 1347 during the Hundred Years' War, when Calais, an important French port on the English Channel, was under siege by the English for over a year.-History:The...

, and several unique pieces by Houdon
Jean-Antoine Houdon
Jean-Antoine Houdon was a French neoclassical sculptor. Houdon is famous for his portrait busts and statues of philosophers, inventors and political figures of the Enlightenment...

, including his Bust of Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

and his famous portrait of his daughter Sabine.

Greek and Roman art

The Met's collection of Greek and Roman art contains more than 35,000 works dated through AD 312. The Greek and Roman collection dates back to the founding of the museum—in fact, the museum's first accessioned object was a Roman sarcophagus
Sarcophagus
A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σαρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγειν phagein meaning "to eat", hence sarkophagus means "flesh-eating"; from the phrase lithos sarkophagos...

, still currently on display. Though the collection naturally concentrates on items from ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, these historical regions represent a wide range of cultures and artistic styles, from classic Greek black-figure
Black-figure pottery
Black-figure pottery painting, also known as the black-figure style or black-figure ceramic is one of the most modern styles for adorning antique Greek vases. It was especially common between the 7th and 5th centuries BC, although there are specimens dating as late as the 2nd century BC...

 and red-figure
Red-figure pottery
Red-figure vase painting is one of the most important styles of figural Greek vase painting. It developed in Athens around 530 BC and remained in use until the late 3rd century BC. It replaced the previously dominant style of Black-figure vase painting within a few decades...

 vases to carved Roman tunic
Tunic
A tunic is any of several types of clothing for the body, of various lengths reaching from the shoulders to somewhere between the hips and the ankles...

 pins. Highlights of the collection include the monumental Amathus sarcophagus and a magnificently detailed Etruscan chariot known as the "Monteleone chariot
Monteleone Chariot
The Monteleone chariot is an Etruscan chariot dated to ca. 530 BC. It was originally uncovered at Monteleone di Spoleto and is currently part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City...

". The collection also contains many pieces from far earlier than the Greek or Roman empires—among the most remarkable are a collection of early Cycladic
Cyclades
The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece; and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos...

 sculptures from the mid-third millennium BCE, many so abstract as to seem almost modern. The Greek and Roman galleries also contain several large classical wall paintings and reliefs from different periods, including an entire reconstructed bedroom from a noble villa
Villa
A villa was originally an ancient Roman upper-class country house. Since its origins in the Roman villa, the idea and function of a villa have evolved considerably. After the fall of the Roman Republic, villas became small farming compounds, which were increasingly fortified in Late Antiquity,...

 in Boscoreale
Boscoreale
Boscoreale is a comune and town in the province of Naples, Campania, located in the Parco Nazionale del Vesuvio under the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, known for the fruit and vineyards of Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio...

, excavated after its entombment by the eruption of Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius
Mount Vesuvius is a stratovolcano in the Gulf of Naples, Italy, about east of Naples and a short distance from the shore. It is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years, although it is not currently erupting...

 in AD 79. In 2007, the Met's Greek and Roman galleries were expanded to approximately 60000 square feet (5,574.2 m²), allowing the majority of the collection to be on permanent display.

Islamic art

The Met's collection of Islamic art
Islamic art
Islamic art encompasses the visual arts produced from the 7th century onwards by people who lived within the territory that was inhabited by or ruled by culturally Islamic populations...

 is not confined strictly to religious art, though a significant number of the objects in the Islamic collection were originally created for religious use or as decorative elements in mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

s. Much of the 12,000 strong collection consists of secular items, including ceramics and textiles, from Islamic cultures ranging from Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 to North Africa
North Africa
North Africa or Northern Africa is the northernmost region of the African continent, linked by the Sahara to Sub-Saharan Africa. Geopolitically, the United Nations definition of Northern Africa includes eight countries or territories; Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, South Sudan, Sudan, Tunisia, and...

 to Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

. The Islamic Art department's collection of miniature paintings from Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Mughal India
Mughal Empire
The Mughal Empire ,‎ or Mogul Empire in traditional English usage, was an imperial power from the Indian Subcontinent. The Mughal emperors were descendants of the Timurids...

 are a highlight of the collection. Calligraphy
Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

 both religious and secular is well-represented in the Islamic Art department, from the official decrees of Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman I was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver" , for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system...

 to a number of Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 manuscripts reflecting different periods and styles of calligraphy. As with many other departments at the Met, the Islamic Art galleries contain many interior pieces, including the entire reconstructed Nur Al-Din Room from an early 18th century house in Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

. The Islamic Arts galleries have been undergoing refurbishment since 2001 and were reopened on November 1, 2011. Until that time, a narrow selection of items from the collection are on temporary display throughout the museum. However, the museum has confirmed to the New York Post
New York Post
The New York Post is the 13th-oldest newspaper published in the United States and is generally acknowledged as the oldest to have been published continuously as a daily, although – as is the case with most other papers – its publication has been periodically interrupted by labor actions...

that it has withdrawn from public display all paintings depicting Muhammad and may not rehang those that were displayed in the Islamic gallery before the renovation.

Robert Lehman Collection

On the passing of banker Robert Lehman
Robert Lehman
Robert Lehman was an American banker, head of Lehman Brothers for decades and a notable race-horse owner, and important art-collector and philanthropist.-Biography:...

 in 1969, his Foundation donated close to 3,000 works of art to the museum. Housed in the "Robert Lehman Wing," the museum refers to the collection as "one of the most extraordinary private art collections ever assembled in the United States". To emphasize the personal nature of the Robert Lehman Collection, the Met housed the collection in a special set of galleries which evoked the interior of Lehman's richly decorated townhouse
Townhouse
A townhouse is the term historically used in the United Kingdom, Ireland and in many other countries to describe a residence of a peer or member of the aristocracy in the capital or major city. Most such figures owned one or more country houses in which they lived for much of the year...

; this intentional separation of the Collection as a "museum within the museum" met with mixed criticism and approval at the time, though the acquisition of the collection was seen as a coup for the Met. Unlike other departments at the Met, the Robert Lehman collection does not concentrate on a specific style or period of art; rather, it reflects Lehman's personal interests. Lehman the collector concentrated heavily on paintings of the Italian Renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

, particularly the Sienese
Siena
Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena.The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008...

 school. Paintings in the collection include masterpieces by Botticelli and Domenico Veneziano
Domenico Veneziano
Domenico Veneziano was an Italian painter of the early Renaissance, active mostly in Perugia and Tuscany.Little is known of his birth, though he is thought to have been born in Venice, hence his last name. He then moved to Florence in 1422-23 as a boy, to become a pupil of Gentile da Fabriano. He...

, as well as works by a significant number of Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 painters, El Greco
El Greco
El Greco was a painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance. "El Greco" was a nickname, a reference to his ethnic Greek origin, and the artist normally signed his paintings with his full birth name in Greek letters, Δομήνικος Θεοτοκόπουλος .El Greco was born on Crete, which was at...

 and Goya
Francisco Goya
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes was a Spanish romantic painter and printmaker regarded both as the last of the Old Masters and the first of the moderns. Goya was a court painter to the Spanish Crown, and through his works was both a commentator on and chronicler of his era...

 among them. Lehman's collection of drawings by the Old Masters, featuring works by Rembrandt and Dürer
Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer was a German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist from Nuremberg. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance ever since...

, is particularly valuable for its breadth and quality. Princeton University Press
Princeton University Press
-Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

 has documented the massive collection in a multi-volume book series published as The Robert Lehman Collection Catalogues.

Libraries

The main library at the Met is the Thomas J. Watson
Thomas J. Watson
Thomas John Watson, Sr. was president of International Business Machines , who oversaw that company's growth into an international force from 1914 to 1956...

 Library, named after its benefactor. The Watson Library primarily collects books related to the history of art, including exhibition catalogues and auction sale publications, and generally attempts to reflect the emphasis of the museum's permanent collection. The library has about 690,000 items. Several of the museum's departments have their own specialized libraries relating to their area of expertise. The Watson Library and the individual departments' libraries also hold substantial examples of early or historically important books which are works of art in their own right. Among these are books by Dürer
Albrecht Dürer
Albrecht Dürer was a German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist from Nuremberg. His prints established his reputation across Europe when he was still in his twenties, and he has been conventionally regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance ever since...

 and Athanasius Kircher
Athanasius Kircher
Athanasius Kircher was a 17th century German Jesuit scholar who published around 40 works, most notably in the fields of oriental studies, geology, and medicine...

, as well as editions of the seminal Surrealist magazine VVV and a copy of Le Description de l'Egypte, commissioned in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte and considered one of the greatest achievements of French publishing.

Several of the departmental libraries are open to members of the public without prior appointment. The Library and Teacher Resource Center, Ruth and Harold Uris Center for Education, is open to visitors of all ages to study art and art history and to learn about the Museum, its exhibitions and permanent collection. The Robert Goldwater Library
Robert Goldwater Library
The Robert Goldwater Library in the department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a noncirculating research library dedicated to the documentation of visual arts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands, and Native and Precolumbian America...

 in the department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas documents the visual arts of sub-Saharan Africa
African art
African art constitutes one of the most diverse legacies on earth. Though many casual observers tend to generalize "traditional" African art, the continent is full of people, societies, and civilizations, each with a unique visual special culture. The definition also includes the art of the African...

, the Pacific Islands, and Native and Precolumbian America
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

. It is open to adult researchers, including college and graduate students. Most of the other departmental libraries are for museum staff only or are open to the general public by appointment only.

Medieval art

The Met's collection of medieval art consists of a comprehensive range of Western art from the 4th through the early 16th centuries, as well as Byzantine
Byzantine art
Byzantine art is the term commonly used to describe the artistic products of the Byzantine Empire from about the 5th century until the Fall of Constantinople in 1453....

 and pre-medieval European antiquities not included in the Ancient Greek and Roman collection. Like the Islamic collection, the Medieval collection contains a broad range of two- and three-dimensional art, with religious objects heavily represented. In total, the Medieval Art department's permanent collection numbers about 11,000 separate objects, divided between the main museum building on Fifth Avenue and The Cloisters
The Cloisters
The Cloisters is a museum located in Fort Tryon Park, New York City. The building, which is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, was reconstructed in the 1930s from the architectural elements of several European medieval abbeys...

.

Main building

The medieval collection in the main Metropolitan building, centered on the first-floor medieval gallery, contains about six thousand separate objects. While a great deal of European medieval art is on display in these galleries, most of the European pieces are concentrated at the Cloisters (see below). However, this allows the main galleries to display much of the Met's Byzantine art side-by-side with European pieces. The main gallery is host to a wide range of tapestries and church and funerary statuary, while side galleries display smaller works of precious metals and ivory, including reliquary
Reliquary
A reliquary is a container for relics. These may be the physical remains of saints, such as bones, pieces of clothing, or some object associated with saints or other religious figures...

 pieces and secular items. The main gallery, with its high arched ceiling, also serves double duty as the annual site of the Met's elaborately decorated Christmas tree.

The Cloisters


The Cloisters was a principal project of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
John Davison Rockefeller, Jr. was a major philanthropist and a pivotal member of the prominent Rockefeller family. He was the sole son among the five children of businessman and Standard Oil industrialist John D. Rockefeller and the father of the five famous Rockefeller brothers...

, who was a major benefactor of the Met. Located in Fort Tryon Park
Fort Tryon Park
Fort Tryon Park is a public park located in the Washington Heights section of the borough of Manhattan in New York City, USA. It is situated on a 67 acre ridge in Upper Manhattan, with a commanding view of the Hudson River, the George Washington Bridge, the New Jersey Palisades and the Harlem River...

 and completed in 1938, it is a separate building dedicated solely to medieval art. The Cloisters collection was originally that of a separate museum, assembled by George Grey Barnard
George Grey Barnard
'George Grey Barnard was an American sculptor, "an excellent American sculptor", the French art dealer René Gimpel reported in his diary , "very much engrossed in carving himself a fortune out of the trade in works of art." His lasting monument, rather than any sculpture of his own, is the...

 and acquired in toto by Rockefeller in 1925 as a gift to the Met.

The Cloisters are so named on account of the five medieval French cloisters whose salvaged structures were incorporated into the modern building, and the five thousand objects at the Cloisters are strictly limited to medieval European works. The collection exhibited here features many items of outstanding beauty and historical importance; among these are the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry
Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry
The Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, or Belles Heures of Jean de Berry is an early 15th century illuminated manuscript book of hours commissioned by John of France, Duke of Berry...

illustrated by the Limbourg Brothers
Limbourg brothers
The Limbourg brothers, or in Dutch Gebroeders van Limburg , were famous Dutch miniature painters from the city of Nijmegen. They were active in the early 15th century in France and Burgundy, working in the style known as International Gothic...

 in 1409, the Romanesque
Romanesque art
Romanesque art refers to the art of Western Europe from approximately 1000 AD to the rise of the Gothic style in the 13th century, or later, depending on region. The preceding period is increasingly known as the Pre-Romanesque...

 altar cross known as the "Cloisters Cross
Cloisters Cross
The Cloisters Cross, also referred to as the Bury St. Edmunds Cross, is an unusually complex 12th century ivory Romanesque altar cross in The Cloisters, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The cross is carved from walrus ivory and measures 22 5/8 x 14 1/4 in...

" or "Bury Cross," and the seven heroically detailed tapestries
Tapestry
Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven on a vertical loom, however it can also be woven on a floor loom as well. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length and those parallel to the width ; the warp threads are set up under tension on a...

 depicting the Hunt of the Unicorn
The Hunt of the Unicorn
The Hunt of the Unicorn, often referred to as the Unicorn Tapestries, is a series of seven tapestries dating from 1495–1505. The tapestries show a group of noblemen and hunters in pursuit of a unicorn. It is believed the tapestries were made in the Southern Netherlands.-Production:The...

.

Modern art

With more than 10,000 artworks, primarily by European and American artists, the modern art collection occupies 60000 square feet (5,574.2 m²), of gallery space and contains many iconic modern works. Cornerstones of the collection include Picasso's portrait of Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein was an American writer, poet and art collector who spent most of her life in France.-Early life:...

, Jasper Johns's
Jasper Johns
Jasper Johns, Jr. is an American contemporary artist who works primarily in painting and printmaking.-Life:Born in Augusta, Georgia, Jasper Johns spent his early life in Allendale, South Carolina with his paternal grandparents after his parents' marriage failed...

 White Flag, Jackson Pollock's
Jackson Pollock
Paul Jackson Pollock , known as Jackson Pollock, was an influential American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement. During his lifetime, Pollock enjoyed considerable fame and notoriety. He was regarded as a mostly reclusive artist. He had a volatile personality, and...

 Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), and Max Beckmann's
Max Beckmann
Max Beckmann was a German painter, draftsman, printmaker, sculptor, and writer. Although he is classified as an Expressionist artist, he rejected both the term and the movement...

 triptych
Triptych
A triptych , from tri-= "three" + ptysso= "to fold") is a work of art which is divided into three sections, or three carved panels which are hinged together and can be folded shut or displayed open. It is therefore a type of polyptych, the term for all multi-panel works...

 Beginning. Certain artists are represented in remarkable depth, for a museum whose focus is not exclusively on modern art: for example, the collection contains forty paintings by Paul Klee
Paul Klee
Paul Klee was born in Münchenbuchsee, Switzerland, and is considered both a German and a Swiss painter. His highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included expressionism, cubism, and surrealism. He was, as well, a student of orientalism...

, spanning his entire career. Due to the Met's long history, "contemporary" paintings acquired in years past have often migrated to other collections at the museum, particularly to the American and European Paintings departments.

Musical instruments

The Met's collection of musical instruments, with about five thousand examples of musical instruments from all over the world, is virtually unique among major museums. The collection began in 1889 with a donation of several hundred instruments by Lucy W. Drexel
Lucy Wharton Drexel
Lucy Wharton Drexel was a Manhattan socialite.She was the second daughter of Lucy Wharton, and Joseph William Drexel, her sister was Elizabeth Wharton Drexel. She married Eric Bernard Dahlgren, Sr. on November 27, 1890 and they sought a divorce after 22 years of marriage in 1912. Eric was the son...

, but the department's current focus came through donations over the following years by Mary Elizabeth Adams, wife of John Crosby Brown. Instruments were (and continue to be) included in the collection not only on aesthetic grounds, but also insofar as they embodied technical and social aspects of their cultures of origin. The modern Musical Instruments collection is encyclopedic in scope; every continent is represented at virtually every stage of its musical life. Highlights of the department's collection include several Stradivari
Antonio Stradivari
Antonio Stradivari was an Italian luthier and a crafter of string instruments such as violins, cellos, guitars, violas, and harps. Stradivari is generally considered the most significant artisan in this field. The Latinized form of his surname, Stradivarius, as well as the colloquial, "Strad", is...

 violin
Violin
The violin is a string instrument, usually with four strings tuned in perfect fifths. It is the smallest, highest-pitched member of the violin family of string instruments, which includes the viola and cello....

s, a collection of Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

n instruments made from precious metals, and the oldest surviving piano
Piano
The piano is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It is one of the most popular instruments in the world. Widely used in classical and jazz music for solo performances, ensemble use, chamber music and accompaniment, the piano is also very popular as an aid to composing and rehearsal...

, a 1720 model by Bartolomeo Cristofori
Bartolomeo Cristofori
Bartolomeo Cristofori di Francesco was an Italian maker of musical instruments, generally regarded as the inventor of the piano.-Life:...

. Many of the instruments in the collection are playable, and the department encourages their use by holding concerts and demonstrations by guest musicians.

Photographs

The Met's collection of photograph
Photograph
A photograph is an image created by light falling on a light-sensitive surface, usually photographic film or an electronic imager such as a CCD or a CMOS chip. Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene's visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of...

s, numbering more than 20,000 in total, is centered on five major collections plus additional acquisitions by the museum. Alfred Stieglitz
Alfred Stieglitz
Alfred Stieglitz was an American photographer and modern art promoter who was instrumental over his fifty-year career in making photography an accepted art form...

, a famous photographer himself, donated the first major collection of photographs to the museum, which included a comprehensive survey of Photo-Secessionist
Pictorialism
‎Pictorialism is the name given to a photographic movement in vogue from around 1885 following the widespread introduction of the dry-plate process. It reached its height in the early years of the 20th century, and declined rapidly after 1914 after the widespread emergence of Modernism...

 works, a rich set of master prints by Edward Steichen
Edward Steichen
Edward J. Steichen was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator. He was the most frequently featured photographer in Alfred Stieglitz' groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917. Steichen also contributed the logo design and a custom typeface...

, and an outstanding collection of Stieglitz's photographs from his own studio. The Met supplemented Stieglitz's gift with the 8,500-piece Gilman Paper Company Collection
Gilman Paper Company Collection
The Gilman Paper Company collection is an archive of original photographic prints and negatives, and it was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The collection was formed over the course of two decades by Howard Gilman , chairman of the Gilman Paper Company.-External links:*...

, the Rubel Collection, and the Ford Motor Company Collection, which respectively provided the collection with early French and American photography, early British photography, and post-WWI
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 American and European photography. The museum also acquired Walker Evans's
Walker Evans
Walker Evans was an American photographer best known for his work for the Farm Security Administration documenting the effects of the Great Depression. Much of Evans's work from the FSA period uses the large-format, 8x10-inch camera...

 personal collection of photographs, a particular coup considering the high demand for his works. Though the department gained a permanent gallery in 1997, not all of the department's holdings are on display at any given time, due to the sensitive materials represented in the photography collection. However, the Photographs department has produced some of the best-received temporary exhibits in the Met's recent past, including a Diane Arbus
Diane Arbus
Diane Arbus March 14, 1923 – July 26, 1971) was an American photographer and writer noted for black-and-white square photographs of "deviant and marginal people or of people whose normality seems ugly or surreal." A friend said that Arbus said that she was "afraid.....

 retrospective and an extensive show devoted to spirit photography.

Roof Garden

The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden
Metropolitan Museum of Art Roof Garden
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Roof Garden is a rooftop terrace, art venue and restaurant open in the warm weather months at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Roof Garden offers "breathtaking" views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline. The garden is the gift of philanthropists...

 is located on the roof towards the southwestern corner of the museum. It offers views of Central Park and the Manhattan skyline, and features an annual summertime single artist sculpture exhibition. The Garden's cafe and bar is a popular museum spot during the mild-weathered months, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings when large crowds can lead to long lines at the elevators.

Special exhibitions

The museum regularly hosts notable special exhibitions, often focusing on the works of one artist that have been loaned out from a variety of other museums and sources for the duration of the exhibition. These exhibitions are part of the attraction that draw people both within and outside Manhattan to explore the Met. Such exhibitions include displays especially designed for the Costume Institute, paintings from artists from across the world, works of art related to specific art movements, and collections of historical artifacts. Exhibitions are commonly located within their specific departments, ranging from American Decorative Arts, Arms and Armor, Drawings and Prints, Egyptian Art, Medieval Art, Musical Instruments, and Photographs. Typical exhibitions run for months at a time and are open to the general public. Each exhibition provides insight into the world of art as a transformative, cultural experience and often includes a historical analysis to demonstrate the profound impact that art has on society and its dramatic transformation over the years.

Early History

The New York State Legislature
New York Legislature
The New York State Legislature is the term often used to refer to the two houses that act as the state legislature of the U.S. state of New York. The New York Constitution does not designate an official term for the two houses together...

 granted the Metropolitan Museum of Art an Act of Incorporation on April 13, 1870 "for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said City a Museum and Library of Art, of encouraging and developing the Study of the Fine Arts, and the application of Art to manufacture and natural life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and to that end of furnishing popular instruction and recreations".

The museum first opened on February 20, 1872, housed in a building located at 681 Fifth Avenue in New York City. John Taylor Johnston
John Taylor Johnston
John Taylor Johnston was born on April 8, 1820, the son of John Johnston, a prominent merchant banker in New York City. Johnston was the founding president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1870, as well as the President of the Central Railroad of New Jersey from 1848 to 1877...

, a railroad executive whose personal art collection seeded the museum, served as its first President, and the publisher George Palmer Putnam
George Palmer Putnam
George Palmer Putnam was an important American book publisher.-Biography:Putnam was born in Brunswick, Maine. On moving to New York City, Putnam was given his first job by Jonathan Leavitt, who subsequently published Putnam's first book...

 came on board as its founding Superintendent. The artist Eastman Johnson
Eastman Johnson
Eastman Johnson was an American painter, and Co-Founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, with his name inscribed at its entrance...

 acted as Co-Founder of the museum. The former Civil War officer, Luigi Palma di Cesnola
Luigi Palma di Cesnola
Luigi Palma di Cesnola , an Italian-American soldier and amateur archaeologist, was born in Rivarolo Canavese, near Turin...

, was named as its first director. He served from 1879 to 1904. Under their guidance, the Met's holdings, initially consisting of a Roman stone sarcophagus and 174 mostly European paintings, quickly outgrew the available space. In 1873, occasioned by the Met's purchase of the Cesnola Collection
Luigi Palma di Cesnola
Luigi Palma di Cesnola , an Italian-American soldier and amateur archaeologist, was born in Rivarolo Canavese, near Turin...

 of Cypriot
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 antiquities, the museum decamped from Fifth Avenue and took up residence at the Mrs. Nicholas Cruger mansion also known as the Douglas Mansion (James Renwick, 1853-54, demolished) at 128 West 14th Street. However, these new accommodations proved temporary, as the growing collection required more space than the mansion could provide.

The Present Building

After negotiations with the City of New York in 1871, the Met was granted the land between the East Park Drive, Fifth Avenue, and the 79th and 85th Street Transverse Roads in Central Park
Central Park
Central Park is a public park in the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park initially opened in 1857, on of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan...

. A red-brick and stone "mausoleum" was designed by American architect Calvert Vaux
Calvert Vaux
Calvert Vaux , was an architect and landscape designer. He is best remembered as the co-designer , of New York's Central Park....

 and his collaborator Jacob Wrey Mould
Jacob Wrey Mould
Jacob Wrey Mould was an architect, illustrator, linguist and musician, noted for his contributions to the design and construction of New York City's Central Park...

. Vaux's ambitious building was not well-received; the building's High Victorian Gothic style being already dated prior to completion, and the president of the Met termed the project "a mistake." Within 20 years, a new architectural plan engulfing the Vaux building was already being executed. Since that time, many additions have been made including the distinctive Beaux-Arts Fifth Avenue facade, Great Hall, and Grand Stairway. These were designed by architect and Met trustee Richard Morris Hunt
Richard Morris Hunt
Richard Morris Hunt was an American architect of the nineteenth century and a preeminent figure in the history of American architecture...

, but completed by his son, Richard Howland Hunt in 1902 after his father's death. The wings that completed the Fifth Avenue facade in the 1910s were designed by the firm of McKim, Mead, and White. The modernistic sides and rear of the museum were the work of Roche, Dinkeloo, and Associates in the 1970s and 1980s.

As of 2010, the Met measures almost 1/4 mi long and with more than 2000000 ft2 of floor space, more than 20 times the size of the original 1880 building. The museum building is an accretion of over twenty structures, most of which are not visible from the exterior. The City of New York owns the museum building and contributes utilities, heat, and some of the cost of guardianship.

The Museum Corporation

The collections are owned by a private corporation of Fellows and Benefactors which totals about 950 persons. The museum is governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of 41 elected members, several officials of the City of New York, and persons honored as Trustees by the museum. The 2009-10 operating budget is $221 million. The museum's endowment is $2–3 billion and provides much of the income for operations while admissions account for only 15%.

Acquisitions and deaccessioning

During the 1970s, under the directorship of Thomas Hoving
Thomas Hoving
Thomas Pearsall Field Hoving was an American museum executive and consultant and the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.-Biography:...

, the Met revised its deaccessioning
Collection (museum)
A museum is distinguished by a collection of often unique objects that forms the core of its activities for exhibitions, education, research, etc. This differentiates it from an archive or library, where the contents may be more paper-based, replaceable and less exhibition oriented...

 policy. Under the new policy, the Met set its sights on acquiring "world-class" pieces, regularly funding the purchases by selling mid- to high-value items from its collection. Though the Met had always sold duplicate or minor items from its collection to fund the acquisition of new pieces, the Met's new policy was significantly more aggressive and wide-ranging than before, and allowed the deaccessioning of items with higher values which would normally have precluded their sale. The new policy provoked a great deal of criticism (in particular, from the New York Times) but had its intended effect.

Many of the items then purchased with funds generated by the more liberal deaccessioning policy are now considered the "stars" of the Met's collection, including Velázquez
Diego Velázquez
Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez was a Spanish painter who was the leading artist in the court of King Philip IV. He was an individualistic artist of the contemporary Baroque period, important as a portrait artist...

's Juan de Pareja
Juan de Pareja
Juan de Pareja was a Spanish painter, born in Antequera, near Malaga, Spain. He is primarily known as a member of the household and workshop of painter Diego Velázquez. His 1661 work The Calling of St. Matthew is currently on display at the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain...

and the Euphronios krater
Euphronios krater
The Euphronios krater is an ancient Greek terra cotta krater, a bowl used for mixing wine with water. Created around the year 515 BC, it is considered one of the finest Greek vase in existence artifacts and is the only complete example of the surviving 27 vases painted by the renowned Euphronios...

 depicting the death of Sarpedon
Sarpedon
In Greek mythology, Sarpedon referred to at least three different people.-Son of Zeus and Europa:The first Sarpedon was a son of Zeus and Europa, and brother to Minos and Rhadamanthys. He was raised by the king Asterion and then, banished by Minos, his rival in love for the young Miletus, he...

 (which has since been repatriated to the Republic of Italy). In the years since the Met began its new deaccessioning policy, other museums have begun to emulate it with aggressive deaccessioning programs of their own. The Met has continued the policy in recent years, selling such valuable pieces as Edward Steichen
Edward Steichen
Edward J. Steichen was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator. He was the most frequently featured photographer in Alfred Stieglitz' groundbreaking magazine Camera Work during its run from 1903 to 1917. Steichen also contributed the logo design and a custom typeface...

's 1904 photograph The Pond-Moonlight (of which another copy was already in the Met's collection) for a record price of $2.9 million.

Controversies

The book Rogues' Gallery by the journalist Michael Gross
Michael Gross (writer)
Michael Gross , is an author, journalist and editor. He has a B.A. in History from Vassar College. He graduated in 1970 from South Side High School in Rockville Centre, the same school that later graduated Howard Stern....

 was published in May, 2009 focusing on the personalities behind the museum, showcasing their personal peccadilloes and charting the relationship between the public and private behavior and ambitions of its trustees and benefactors and their cultural philanthropy. A museum spokesman condemned the book as "misleading" and "insensitive", and the museum bookstore declined to sell it. The New York Times Book Review noted that the subjects of the book "form a blockbuster exhibition of human achievement and flaws," but ultimately criticized the book's focus on "lurid" matters unrelated to art.

The museum has been criticized for withdrawing images of Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 from public display.

In popular culture

  • In Edith Wharton
    Edith Wharton
    Edith Wharton , was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer.- Early life and marriage:...

    's 1920 novel The Age of Innocence
    The Age of Innocence
    The Age of Innocence is a novel by Edith Wharton published in 1920, which won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize. The story is set in upper-class New York City in the 1870s. In 1920, The Age of Innocence was serialized in four parts in the Pictorial Review magazine, and later released by D...

    set in the 1870s the two main protagonists have a clandestine meeting in the museum, during which one says "Some day, I suppose, it will be a great Museum"
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Percy goes there on a school field trip.
  • In E. L. Konigsburg
    E. L. Konigsburg
    Elaine Lobl Konigsburg is an American author and illustrator of children's books and young adult fiction. She is one of five authors to win two Newbery Medals, awarded annually for one contribution to American children's literature.Her first two manuscripts were submitted to editor Jean E...

    's children's book (made into a film in 1973 and made for TV movie in 1985), From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
    From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
    From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a novel by E. L. Konigsburg. It was published by Atheneum Books in 1967, the second published from two manuscripts the new writer had submitted to editor Jean E...

    , the main characters run away from home to live in the museum.
  • In Friends
    Friends
    Friends is an American sitcom created by David Crane and Marta Kauffman, which aired on NBC from September 22, 1994 to May 6, 2004. The series revolves around a group of friends in Manhattan. The series was produced by Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions, in association with Warner Bros. Television...

     episode 215 "The One with the Fertility Test", Joey takes Charlie to the museum.

See also


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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