If you’ve never been to New York before, The Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) might seem like it’s just another museum in the longgggg list of museums and art galleries that are on must-see lists for the city. But it is not just like the others, ohhhhhhh no my friend, it is not.
Here are 10 reasons why you need to add visiting The Met to your New York travel list.
1. Visit The Met for FREE
That's right, there is no charge to enter this museum. Like most of the museums in New York there is a "suggested donation" posted, but when you go up to that ticket counter, you can either say that you don't want to donate, or give however much you want to. Give something if you can — you are about to see some incredible treasures!
2. The Location
This sprawling, massive white building is perched on the edge of Central Park on Fifth Avenue in the Upper East Side. That means that views from its many windows are of the beautiful green space, and there are lots of paths for you to stroll if you need to take a break from a full day of wandering through galleries.
3. The Quality of The Collection
The quality and diversity of the pieces at The Met are as good as, or arguably better than, those at The Louvre and The British Museum. Founded in 1870, it actually is home to one of the largest permanent collections in the world — more than 2 million objects, many of which are different than anything I have seen anywhere else.
4. The Layout
The galleries cover an astonishing 17 acres! What I found incredible about the layout though, was how I never felt cramped or overwhelmed by the collection. Though the vast number of objects is staggering, they are displayed in a way that allows you to take everything in. As you wander through the different rooms, you will also find that each one is designed to reflect the antiquities that are inside it. Whether it is a Greek sculpture garden with soaring ceilings, a cozy Egyptian tomb, or a portrait gallery that feels like it's in the hall of a grand palace, you will feel completely transported.
5. You Can Take Photos
Just like the art galleries and museums in Europe, photos are allowed as long as you don't use a flash. As an added bonus, a lot of the rooms have natural light, so taking photos without a flash doesn't pose as much of a problem as it does in the museums in Europe.
6. The Egyptian Art
This wing was one of my favourites to walk through. There was an unrivalled collection of jewellery and adornments — necklaces, toe covers, hair decoration — and I loved the way it was displayed. The Temple of Dendur in this wing is an exhibit that is often used for special events, and you will recognize it from its appearance in multiple films.
7. The Sculptures
I don't know about you, but I could sit and look at Greek and Roman sculptures for days. The way that bodies were carved out of marble to look so supple and soft that you imagine that it would feel like human skin if you touched them (don't touch them) is mesmerizing. And the multiple sculpture galleries at The Met do not disappoint. Make sure you spend some time in the European Sculpture Court and the gallery in the Greek and Roman Art wing.
8. The Arts of Africa, Oceania & The Americas Collection
Spectacularly displayed, this is an unbelievable collection of work by Indigenous groups from all over the world. Artifacts vary from Mayan gold and carved Native American masks to ceramics from New Mexico and ceremonial ceilings from the tribes of New Guinea.
9. The Restaurants
Not only is the food spectacular at the museum's many restaurants, but it is accompanied by stunning views overlooking Central Park. Don't miss the Great Hall Balcony Bar that is essentially a pop-up bar open only on Friday and Saturday nights from 4:30 pm – 8 pm. There are wine flights, cocktails, appetizers, and live music all set in the opulence of the Great Hall.
10. There is More Than One Met!
Yes, you read that right. The Met on Fifth is just one part (the largest part), of the collection. The Met Breuer houses a collection of art from the 20th and 21st centuries, and The Met Cloisters is dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe.
TIP 1: If you want to see the entire collection without feeling rushed or overwhelmed, you will need more than one day.
TIP 2: Don't miss the gift shop! Especially if you are a lover of art books — there is a fantastic collection to peruse.