About The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cloisters Museum and Met Breuer
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere, one of the most iconic art museums in the world and among New York City’s most visited attractions. Over two million square feet in area, with more than two million works of art, the quantity of art here is second only to the quality of art. From legendary works by Dutch masters like Rembrandt and Van Gogh to vibrant modern art by Pollock and Noguchi, to dazzling displays of jewelry and costumes, and an entire Egyptian temple, the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents a breathtaking, and dizzying vista of the world's greatest treasures. Every New Yorker has a favorite section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but some pieces and collections are widely acknowledged as "must sees":
The Egyptian collection covers 4,000 years of history and includes mummies, sarcophagi and displays of hieroglyphics and jewelry sure to excite kids and Indiana Jones fans. The Temple of Dendur, which was commissioned to honor the goddess Isis (circa 15 BC) and transported brick-by-brick from the Nile in the 1960s, is one of the most dramatic and popular exhibits in the museum.
For the more traditionally inclined, the European Paintings collection includes famous Old Master paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velázquez, Goya, Brueghel, El Greco and Caravaggio, and Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works by Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne and Picasso. Be sure to see Velázquez' Juan de Pareja, Vermeer's Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, Rembrandt's Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, and Van Gogh's Wheat Field with Cypresses.
The museum’s fifteen galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia traces the course of Islamic civilization over 13 centuries and includes an 11-foot-high mosaic-tiled 14th-century prayer niche, a wood-paneled reception hall and the Simonetti Carpet, woven around 1500.
Opened in early 2012, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s revitalized American Wing (a.k.a. The New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture and Decorative Arts) is 30,000 square feet of open, skylit space showcasing one of the best and most extensive collections of American art in the country. The highlight here is Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's magnificent 1851 painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware.
With its displays of knights on armored models of horses, the Arms and Armor section features swords, armor and other weapons from both East and West, and is a favorite with kids and history buffs.
The Asian art collection is internationally known for its collection of Chinese painting and calligraphy; highlights include a print of Hokusai's famous Under the Wave off Kanagawa.
The Greek and Roman art collection dates from the opening of the museum, and contains more than 17,000 pieces, including the famous limestone Amathus Sarcophagus and wall paintings that were excavated from two villas on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. It is known around the world for its Greek vases and grave reliefs, and for its marble and bronze Roman portrait busts.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is famous for its exhibits of complete rooms and courtyards, including an intact room from a Frank Lloyd Wright home (in the American Wing), a bedroom from a Roman Villa (in the Greek and Roman gallery), and a Ming Dynasty-style garden court (in the Asian art collection).
You could spend a week exploring the galleries and corridors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but if you have only a day, or a few hours, prioritize your time before you begin; research current exhibitions in advance and familiarize yourself with the museum’s floor plan to locate major wings and collections and to identify what you most want to see. Be sure to allow a little extra time to linger a while on the grand steps to the museum.
Entry to the Cloisters Museum and Gardens and the Met Breuer
Note that entry to the Metropolitan Museum of Art also includes entry to the Cloisters Museum and Gardens and The Met Breuer.
The Cloisters Museum and Gardens
High on a bluff in Fort Tryon Park, at the very northern tip of Manhattan, stands the Metropolitan Museum of Art's astounding medieval-art branch, the Cloisters Museum and Gardens. Reassembled, brick by brick, from portions of five medieval monasteries, the museum provides a harmonious medieval setting to experience the Met’s rich collection of medieval art.
Originally the collection of sculptor George Grey Barnard (housed in a museum on nearby Ft. Washington Avenue), and purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 1920s with a donation from philanthropist and collector, John D. Rockefeller Jr., the Cloisters Museum and Gardens now houses a collection of over five thousand pieces of medieval art, including tapestries, ivory and stone carvings, reliquaries, illuminated manuscripts, stained glass and painted altar panels. All of the pieces are displayed within the stone rooms and passageways of the cloisters — calm and evocative spaces that invite contemplation and transport visitors to medieval times.
Perhaps the most famous artwork at the Cloisters, donated by Mr. Rockefeller, is the series of seven tapestries known as “The Hunt of the Unicorn,” or “The Unicorn Tapestries.” These exquisite tapestries are woven of wool, metallic threads and silk, and are so detailed that scholars have been able to identify specific medieval flowers woven into the scenes. Other highlights include the Bury St. Edmunds Cross (also known as the Cloisters Cross), a twelfth-century walrus-ivory cross, and the Annunciation Triptych or Mérode Altarpiece, one of the most celebrated early Netherlandish paintings. The Cloisters' Treasury gallery includes more secular and prosaic items like a complete deck of hand-painted medieval playing cards.
Outside the galleries, the Cloisters commands a superb elevated view of the Hudson River and the cliffs on the opposite (New Jersey) shore. Its gardens have been planted with plants popular in the Middle Ages, and are tended according to medieval theories of gardening.
The Met Breuer
The Met Breuer is the Metropolitan Museum of Art's newest extension of its modern and contemporary art program, which includes exhibitions, performances, artist commissions, residencies and educational initiatives in the landmark building designed by Marcel Breuer on Madison Avenue and 75th Street.
1 Day Pass includes:
Same-day admission to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens and The Met Breuer
The Metropolitan Museum of Art:
Sunday – Thursday: 10am to 5:30pm
Friday – Saturday: 10am to 9pm
The Cloisters Museum and Gardens:
Open 7 Days a Week
March – October: 10am to 5:15pm
November – February: 10am to 4:45pm
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year's Day
The Met Breuer:
Tuesday – Wednesday: 10am to 5:30pm
Thursday – Friday: 10am to 9pm
Saturday – Sunday: 10amto 5:30pm
Closed: Mondays, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year's Day
Good for kids?
Older children who understand the "Do Not Touch" rule will love the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Some galleries are particular favorites with kids: the Egyptian collection (mummies, the Temple of Dendur); the Arms and Armor collection; the courtyards and room displays; and the costume collections (for kids interested in fashion). The museum also provides family- and child-oriented maps and audio guides, and free drop-in programs for kids with their parents.
Did you know?
Performances on instruments from tremendous collection of over 5,000 instruments (which includes the oldest piano in existence and several Stradivari violins) can be heard on the first Wednesday of each month, free with museum admission.
After soaking in all the amazing works of art inside the museum, you can head to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Roof Garden Cafe and Martini Bar (open May through October) and soak in one of the best views in town - Central Park and the skyline; it’s a favorite with locals and visitors alike; the perfect spot to enjoy temporary sculpture exhibitions and light fare against a stunning backdrop.
Admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art includes all special exhibits and same-week admission to the Cloisters Museum and Gardens (the museum's branch for Medieval Art in Fort Tryon Park in Northern Manhattan) and the new Met Breuer.