The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere, one of the most iconic art museums in the world and one of 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-panelled 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.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is open seven days a week. Sunday through Thursday the museum is open from 10am until 5:30 pm. Hours are extended on Fridays and Saturdays, when the museum is open 10am to 9pm. Note that the galleries are cleared 15 minutes before closing time.
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 and 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.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Hours and Location Information