In New York, I like to find “happy places.” Places that I can go to get away from the smells of the city, the humidity and heat, the people, the advertisements. Places where can I feel alone but not lonely. Places where, even though I’m not doing much, I feel like I’m accomplishing something or enriching my life somehow. You’ve already heard of my love for Central Park. My newest happy place in New York is the Met.
One day a few weeks ago, I was feeling a bit worthless (it’s hard to live here without a job…) so I decided to remove myself from my apartment and go check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s free/cheap (the people at the desk can’t force you to pay, but they sure do make you feel bad for not donating at least something) and it is full of some amazing art. They have the museum divided into sections – Egypt, Africa, European Art and Sculpture, Medieval Art. However, on the map, it doesn’t lead you to any particular artist or famous works. And from my experience with the information counter, they aren’t always super helpful when you are looking for a particular artist or piece that isn’t one of the most famous. That’s one of the fun parts about the museum. You can ramble through all of the areas, just looking for hidden gems. I went back three times and only skimmed through about a third of the museum. It’s just SO massive. Here were my highlights:
The American Wing
I visited the period rooms, which are set up as a self-guided tour. They have art and furnishings that you would find in homes of specific periods – from the Shakers to the early 20th Century to Frank Lloyd Wright. It is so quiet in that section of the museum, and it is easy to walk slowly and lose yourself in the artistic history of our country. There is a giant oval room with a 360 degree mural of Versailles. There is a whole room dedicated to Tiffany – lamps, stained glass, jewelry. There is a large indoor courtyard with white marble everywhere, statues and plenty of places to sit and look around.
Arms and Armour
The center of this section is a large hall with men in armour on horseback. All around the room there is armour from different countries and periods, some of it from extremely important historical figures. In the small rooms that surround the great hall, there are sections for Asian armour, guns and swords. Once again, it seems like a quieter part of the museum.
This is by far my favorite section of the museum as of now. I love European Paintings – from religious depictions to family portraits to historical works to landscapes, I could lose myself in this section of the museum for hours. I love walking through and finding works by artists that I recognize from my travels to France and Austria. My absolute favorite part of this section is the French Impressionist and 19th and 20th century paintings. When I walked into the Monet room, my breath caught in my throat and I got choked up. Something about French Impressionism touches me. They also have a few rooms of Degas, Van Gogh, Seurat. There are also a few works by Klimt and one by Egon Schiele.
I need to go back again and again and again to get my fill of this place. I think I could go every day for a week and still not be satisfied that I had seen enough.