Sid gave me a tip that not everybody knows. Rather than paying the full price, you can make a donation, which usually costs less, because you chose how much you wish to offer and you donate the minimum – it goes for the museum maintenance. So I donate $ 1 and the ticket agent puts a green pin with the emblem of the museum M on my pectoral, as if I was a soldier and she gave me a merit badge too.
The origins of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dates back to 1866 in Paris, France, when a group of Americans decided to bring art and art education to the American people. The initial opening to the public was in the Palace Dodworth on Fifth Avenue. On 20 November the same year, the Museum acquired its first object, a Roman sarcophagus and after a few years, hundreds of European paintings, including works by Anthony van Dyck, Nicolas Poussin, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, were in the collection.
On 30 March 1880, after a short transition to the Douglas Mansion at 128 West 14th Street, the museum had its present location on Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street. The architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, planned the initial structure – Ruskinian Gothic, the west facade, which is still visible in the Robert Lehman Wing. The collections of the Museum continued to grow throughout the rest of the nineteenth century. Between 1874 and 1876, the Cesnola Collection of Cypriot art, bought the works ranging from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman period. Thanks to this contribution it created the Met’s reputation as an important source of classical antiquity. When the American painter John Kensett died in 1872, some 38 of his works were devoted to the Museum, and in 1889, the Museum acquired two works by Édouard Manet.
In the twentieth century, the Museum became one of the greatest art centers of the world. In 1907, the Museum acquired a work of Auguste Renoir, and in 1910, the Met was the first public institution in the world to acquire a work of art by Henri Matisse. The statue of an ancient Egyptian hippo who is now the official mascot of the Museum, “William”, was added to the collection in 1917. This museum now holds the largest collection of Egyptian art outside of Cairo with 26,000 ancient Egyptian objects. In 1979, the Museum had five of the 35 known paintings by Johannes Vermeer, and now the Met has one of the largest collections of its kind in the world of European paintings. The American Wing now houses the largest collection in the world, of American paintings, sculpture and decorative arts.
Other important collections belonging to the Museum include Arms and Armour, the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, ancient art of the Near East, Asian art, costumes, drawings and prints, sculpture and decorative arts European, Greek and Roman art, Islamic art, Medieval art, Modern and Contemporary art, musical instruments, photographs, and the Robert Lehman Collection. The building has been extended to two million square meters and has more than two million objects, tens of thousands of which are on display at any given time.
From November 1, 2011, the Museum’s new galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, South Asia opened to the public. On the north side of the Museum, the Met’s New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture, Decorative Arts, reopened on January 16, 2012, signaling the completion of the third and final phase of the renovation to The American Wing.
The museum also houses encyclopaedic collections of musical instruments, clothing and vintage accessories and antique weapons and armor from around the world.