In case you didn't know, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is open on Fridays and Saturdays until 9:00 p.m. So whether it's after work or a day in the park, you can still pop on over to 82nd and 5th for an evening of art and culture.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is at the top of its class and is, therefore, humongous. It can be a bit intimidating with the crowds of tourists and the sheer breadth and volume of the galleries and varied collections. The best way to combat this is to visit in smaller doses. A weekend evening is the perfect time to go and discover something new in an old institution. There are also many evening-only additions to the museum to help you enjoy your visit, starting in the Great Hall.
Friday and Saturday evenings at the Met a small ensemble of classical musicians plays at the Great Hall Balcony Bar, on the 2nd Floor overlooking the main entrance. As soon as you walk in, you can hear the live music echoing around the marble room. The Balcony Bar itself is only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 4:00–8:30 p.m. (last call at 8:00 p.m.), and serves appetizers and cocktails. You can enjoy the music from anywhere in the hall, or head over to the bar for a front row seat by the piano.
Then, pick a room and explore. (As an added bonus, audio guides are only $5 after 5:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.)
The completely redone Greek and Roman wing includes beautiful sculpture hallways and a pavilion complete with benches and a fountain, providing a wonderful setting to take in some antiquities.
The special exhibition on Vermeer's Masterpiece The Milkmaid is on view through November 29th and should not be missed. The Milkmaid is one of Vermeer's only 36 surviving paintings and one of his most beloved. It is on loan from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and has only been on view in the U.S. once before in 1939. This is your chance to see this beautiful work, surrounded by a comprehensive contextual exhibit that includes the Met's own five Vermeers and works by other Dutch artists. Information on other special exhibitions can be found here.
Have you ever really looked at the Arms and Armor? How about the body masks and ceremonial ceiling from Oceania? Have you ever been to the roof? There's even a martini bar up there open from 5:00-8:00 pm only on, you guessed it, Fridays and Saturdays.
There are also lectures and concerts and other special events happening all the time, a list of which can be found here, and cafes in which one can get dinner, listed here.
The museum can be overwhelming and that is because there is just so much to do. So try the museum on a Friday evening after work – have a drink, enjoy a free concert, and find something that you like that you've never seen before. It's a heck of a way to kick off your weekend.
The museum also offers free tours during these hours, which are a great way to learn more about the pieces, time periods and genres. The guides are very knowledgeable, too. I prefer them over audio guides any day!