Skip to comments.An Afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Posted on 02/24/2012 12:02:52 PM PST by ml/nj
On Wednesday I went into NYC and spent the entire afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I was most interested to visit the newly renovated "American Wing."
I admit to being a bit frightened by the idea of a renovation because I always like the American Wing the way it was, which was a little bit unusual. Paintings covered most of the walls nearly up to the ceilings. The only other museum I can recall that was like this was the old Barnes Museum in (or near) Philadelphia. I couldn't find a picture of an old American Wing gallery but here is a picture from the Barnes:
The new American wing is laid out with the more usual museum galleries. This can be observed in the backgrounds of pictures I took of some of the sculptures. (more about the pictures below) This new layout is certainly acceptable, but I left wondering what used to be in all the space it now occupies.
I probably spent my first three hours in the American Wing, briefly passing through Armor and a few other rooms before I got there. After that I wandered through the early European (mostly Christian) paintings spending an hour there but somehow missing Rembrandt and Vermeer (and others, I'm sure). Then I headed over to the European Impressionists for my final hour.
As I went I took pictures of things I liked or attracted my attention with my little camera. On some the focus is less than perfect. (I discarded the few where it was terrible.) Most of the pictures of artwork are accompanied by photos of signs idenitifying the work usually after, but maybe sometimes before. On some works I took detail photos, mostly to highlight detail (duh!) or paint (and this mostly in the Van Goghs). Here are a few examples (The pictures below are clickable links to the larger image itself).
I really like the Heart of the Andes (even though the direction of the waterflow bothers me a bit). Of course it is larger than many of the other painting displayed. But it is not so easy to tell this from my picture, except that it has the most detail pictures in my collection. (Two are shown here but there are two more in the full collection.)
I took this one above of a (real, not a painting) 16th century (I think) Spanish Courtyard mostly because it reminded me of a Parador in Ubeda, Spain, that my wife and I stayed in many years ago.
The full set of photos is HERE.
Beautiful! I’d love to go there myself one day.
One of the world’s greatest museums, and one of the things I really miss about New York.
There is a great documentary calls The Art of the Steal, about how the Philadelphia political machine basically confiscated the art from the Barnes trust so they could build a fancy museum downtown. I think it is available via Netflix streaming...
Great photos and commentary. Thx for sharing.
What camera did you use? Without flash?
Very nice! Thanks for posting. I went through the National Gallery of Art about 3 weeks ago, for the first time since I was about 6, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Even with the surly security guards at the front who forbade me from wearing my little black rucksack. I could carry it, but not wear it. Sad that such crabby people work surrounded by such beautiful stuff.
Fuji FinePix F 20 (now about four years old I think)
No flash. I don't think flash is permitted; and even if it were, my experience is that it doesn't always work well as sometimes the surface of a painting, or parts of it, are highly reflective. Of course, if there is glass in front flash is even more difficult, but glass always presents a problem.
I love the NGA. I may even have spent more time in there than in the Met even though the Met is much closer to me.
I think the thing about your rucksack has a practical reason. They are worried about people absentmindedly turning around while in front of a painting and damaging the painting with the rucksack. I don't ever recall the NGA staff being rude or crabby to me. (VERY unusual for a collection of government employees!)
I hadn’t considered that as a reason - they did tell me I couldn’t wear it over my shoulder. Color me slightly chastened...
I am a docent in a museum. The rules may seem arbitrary and unnecessary, but it is very easy for someone to forget where they are or how close they are standing to a painting or artifact. If they turn quickly or accidentally trip, etc., they could destroy, or at the very least, damage a priceless piece. Children are especially “dangerous.” They forget where they are and push their friends, take off running, etc., and can do some real damage. You have to watch them every minute!
US American art is so stooopid. (sark)
You’re a decent docent.
Thank you, but you have never seen me in action when an unruly school group is on my last nerve...
National Gallery is a wonderful museum. I grew up in NY, never liked the Met.
Thanks for your child’s service, MoM.
My family and I were there today(thursday). Saw the whole first floor and the european painters section of the second. Van gogh is by far my favorite. Have to see the rest next time.
The rules may seem arbitrary and unnecessary, but it is very easy for someone to forget where they are or how close they are standing to a painting or artifact. If they turn quickly or accidentally trip, etc., they could destroy, or at the very least, damage a priceless piece.
* * *
Yah . . . Steve Wynn found that out the hard way when he put an elbow through his OWN Picasso! Shame that he damaged such a valuable painting in such a bonehead way (though I admit later Picassos aren’t my favorite) . . . but I would pay money to have seen the look on his face just after! LOL!
As long as you’re not a DOCILE docent, you should be fine. ;) I’ve always thought “docent” was a funny word. I don’t know why.
Frederic Edwin Church did some great stuff.
“Docent” just sounds all tea and crumpety. I had a college internship with a museum of natural science, and was once tasked with bringing the literature describing docentries into the modern era, in order to attract more of the right sort of volunteer associate. I suggested that they first abandon the term “docent.”
There are more amusing descriptive terms for people, though.
Boffin. I can’t quite decide if I saw one of the little creatures at my backyard feeder or on The Muppet Show. That, or it’s a deceptively cute term for those sixties free love people.
I might try to view it sometime. I did get a kick out of the line in the trailer about Barnes going for quality over quantity.
Some years ago I was visiting the Clark Insitute in Williamstown, Mass. (Wow! In getting that link I see that all or nearly all of their Renoirs, and other stuff too, are out on loan for a three year tour. To experience the greatness of this collection, one really must wait now until 2014.) and I had a question about one of the paintings. So I found some docent guy who was just finishing a lecture and asked him. He must have really liked my question as he asked how long I would be at the museum, and finding out that he would have sufficient time he thought, he said he would go research it in their pretty extensive library and come out and find me. He found me but not the answer to my question but we talked for quite some time anyway. I don't know whether I said it or he did but I've long felt that the Clarke has the best of the collections of those formerly based upon a private collection. (I'm leaving out the NGA here which Mellon was initially largely responsible for.) Frick, Norton Simon, Getty, and Barnes are ones that I've visited that come to mind. Anyway I remember my researcher friend putting down Barnes as a competing collector who basically bought up all the stuff the Clarkes didn't want. And thinking about the collections I had to agree with him. Barnes has many more Renoirs for example, but all are largely inferior to all that Clarke has, IMHO anyway. (But of course, I'd take the worst of the ones the Barnes has for my living room!)
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