This summer, the Met is celebrating 150 years with an immersive global journey through the museum’s history. The exhibit, aptly named Making the Met, 1870-2020, explores important moments and figures from the Met’s founding days up until the present. Maybe you’ve wandered through the Temple of Dendur. Maybe you’ve gotten lost in the luminous sculpture garden. But it’s unlikely you’ve ever experienced the Met like this. Making the Met spans centuries, continents, and movements. Through over 250 works of art, the exhibit tells a story about time, place and society. It is less a history than a journey. It is less an exhibit than an experience.
The Layout of the Exhibit
Making the Met, 1870-2020 is organized into 10 chronological sections, all surrounding a central axis called “The Street.” From there, visitors are free to wander through the Met’s 150-year history. They can explore the Met’s curatorial efforts, the collections that have been donated, and the ways in which the museum has reacted to certain moments in time. See below for a more detailed explanation of each section:
- Founding Decades brings visitors to the early days of the Met in the 1870s. It tells a story about the Met’s initial priorities, including excavated antiquities from Cyprus.
- Art for All explores a moment when the Met chose to expand beyond the traditional elite to reach a wider audience. It will include textiles, drawings and musical instruments.
- Princely Aspirations shows how the Met aimed to rival the collections of European royalty. It will include objects donated by tycoons of the Gilded Age.
- Collecting the Excavation takes visitors through the 1920s and 1930s when the Met sponsored several excavations in Egypt and the Middle East. It will also discuss shifting priorities, as the museum has replaced its excavation efforts with research and conservation.
- Creating a National Narrative examines dueling visions for the museum’s new American wing, which opened in 1924. Through art, it will question what “Americanness” really meant at the height of European immigration and what it means now.
- Visions of Collecting focuses on the donations of Louisine and Henry Osborne Havemeyer in 1929. It examines the culture of art collection and will display both European and non-Western art.
- Reckoning with Modernism explores the Met’s directed effort to obtain more modern art as well as its shortcomings in this area. It will also display two landmark photography donations.
- Fragmented Histories reveals the impact of World War II on the museum, both through the Met’s effort to protect European treasures and by displaying Syrian reliefs, most of which were destroyed by the Germans.
- The Centennial Era revisits the great celebration and fanfare that marked the Met’s 100th anniversary and explores the museum’s commitment to collecting non-Western as well as Western art.
- Broadening Perspectives will focus on the past few generations as well as the museum’s vision for the future, which is to always situate art within broader cultural and societal contexts.
When and Where to visit Making the Met
You can find Making the Met, 1970-2020 at The Met, Fifth Avenue (and 82nd street). The exhibit is in the Tisch Galleries on Floor 2, and runs from March 30 to August 2.
The Met is open seven days a week (10 am – 5:30 pm Sunday – Thursday; 10 am – 9 pm Friday – Saturday). For New Yorkers (as well as residents of New Jersey and Connecticut), the admission price is up to you. For out of state visitors, the price is $25 for adults, $12 for students and $0 for kids.
Make a Day of it With the Kids!
The kids will love stepping through the immersive Making the Met exhibition. If you’re looking for other ideas to fill up the day, stop by the Ancient Playground, directly across from the Met. The play equipment is inspired by the Met’s Egypt exhibit. So, after learning about excavation history, they’ll be able to climb their very own pyramids.
Then try dinner at Serafina Pizza on Madison & 79th. (If you ask, the waiters might even give you some pizza dough for the kids to play with while you wait for the food!) Or, if you’re feeling fancy, try Madeline’s Tea at the Carlyle (76th bet. Madison and Park).
Round out the evening with a wander through the Great Lawn, or take in a show at the Swedish Marionette Theater in Central Park. They’re showing “Wake Up Daisy,” a modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty from March 24 through September 20.
Looking for more kid-friendly museums to try in NYC? Check out our guide to getting free admission to the city’s best museums, zoos and gardens!