The Smart Traveler's Guide to Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, known to locals and ardent supporters as "The Met Museum" (or just "The Met"), is one of the most popular museums in the city. This iconic institution boasts over two million pieces of artwork, collectibles and antiquities that span 5,000 years. To walk its grand halls, surrounded by priceless works of art, is truly a transporting experience that will take your breath away. If you’re planning a trip to New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is not to be missed.
History of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
In 1870, a group of forward-thinking Americans conceived the concept of a ground-breaking museum that would bring culture and art to all Americans. In 1880, the magnificent Gothic-Revival style building in Central Park we admire today became its official home.
Since that time, the space has greatly expanded; in fact, the additions actually surround the original edifice. The Met’s iconic façade along Fifth Avenue was completed in 1926, and still remains a favorite photo opp for locals and spellbound tourists. Today it spans over two million square feet—making it no small task to explore its entirety in a solitary visit.
This guide will help you navigate its hallowed halls like a seasoned pro, exposing you to all the best The Metropolitan Museum of Art has to offer.
Visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Over seven million visitors combined flocked to all three of its locations (The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Cloisters, and The Met Breuer, all of which are included in New York CityPASS) between July 2016 and June 2017. This massive pilgrimage grows with every year, so make sure you plan your trip in advance.
The best time to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art is during the week, when most local residents are working. Visit The Met in the early afternoon: it’s late enough so the school children will have departed, but early enough so you’ll have a good amount of time to explore before closing time. If you can swing it, plan your visit to The Met from May to late October so you’ll be able to take advantage of the breathtaking view of the city afforded by the Roof Garden Café and Martini Bar.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Hours
The Met Museum is open seven days a week, on Sunday to Thursday from 10am–5:30pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 10am–9pm. If you’re planning on visiting during the holidays, please note that it is closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25, January 1, and the first Monday in May.
Tickets for The Met Museum
Admission for New York State residents and students from New York, New Jersey, and Conneticut is "pay-as-you-wish" and is good for same-day entry to The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer and The Met Cloisters. For everyone else, admission is $25 for adults, $17 for seniors, and $12 for students, and is good for three consecutive days at The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer and The Met Cloisters.
Skip the line (which is often quite long) at the ticket window when you use your New York CityPASS ticket to spend as much time as possible enjoying the riveting exhibits.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Exhibits
The Met possesses a variety of artwork and collections and showcases them accordingly in many exhibits. Make sure you save time for exhibits like the Temple of Dendur in the Sackler Wing, an actual Egyptian temple dating back to 10 B.C. that was gifted to The Met in 1965.
The museum also hosts changing temporary exhibits; past Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibits have presented the works of Michelangelo, Rodin, and ancient Chinese artists and have examined topics such as Medusa in Classical Art, American Painters in Italy, and Japanese Armor.
Be sure to pick up a brochure at the information desk or ask a friendly employee about the exhibits on display during the time of your visit. Free guided tours provided by knowledgeable volunteers are also available in multiple languages.
The Met Museum Artwork
The Met’s artwork in the curatorial departments is organized by both geography and media; you’ll find scores of exceptional works located in the following sections:
- The American Wing – American art ranging from the 17th to 20th century from celebrated artists including John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt
- Greek and Roman Art – 17,000 antiquities and artifacts dating back to 4500 B.C.
- Ancient Near Eastern Art – 7,000 works of art stemming from a vast region centered in Mesopotamia
- Arms and Armor – A collection of armor and weapons chosen for their outstanding design and decorative appeal
- Arts of Africa, Ocean, and The Americas - Art created by the people of sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands, and North, Central, and South America
- Asian Art – A comprehensive collection of 35,000 objects from the many civilizations of Asia, including paintings, ceramics, metalwork and more.
- The Costume Institute – seven centuries of fashionable clothing for men, women and children
- Drawings and Prints – A vast collection of European and American drawings, prints and illustrated books dating back to the 15th century
- Egyptian Art – 26,000 objects chosen for their historical and cultural importance dating from the Paleolithic to the Roman period
- European Paintings – World-famous paintings from the 13th and 19th centuries, including works by Johannes Vermeer, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Edgar Degas, El Greco, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Georges Seurat, Édouard Manet and Rembrandt van Rijn
- European Sculpture and Decorative Arts – A variety of media including sculptures, woodwork and furniture, jewelry, tapestries and textiles dating from the 15th to 20th century
- Islamic Art – A diverse selection of art illustrating the cultural traditions of Islam, from Spain to Morocco and in between—including secular and religious art, as well as the geometric patterns found in Islamic architecture and design
- Medieval Art and The Cloisters - Art ranging from the 4th century to the 16th century created by the people of the Mediterranean and Europe, including beautifully tapestries (such as The Hunt of the Unicorn) and a highly-detailed carving of an ivory cross from the 12th century
- Modern and Contemporary Art – A vast collection including artwork created by some of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century, such as Georgia O'Keeffe, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollack and Henri Matisse
- Musical Instruments – An assemblage of musical instruments illustrating the importance and exceptional development of music spanning over 2000 years
- Photographs – 25,000 photographs starting from the invention of the camera in the 1830s to present day, each presenting a moment captured in time forever
You can see why The Met is definitely a must-see NYC attraction; with the New York CityPASS, you’ll have the opportunity to explore The Met plus New York’s other top attractions. Just remember to plan your visit before you go so you don’t miss any of your favorite artwork at the Metropolitan Museum of Art!
Header image: Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art