Entering the Metropolitan Museum of Art from busy Fifth Avenue is like crossing the threshold to another world. The organized, clean halls of art and artifacts ask you to pause and admire. The quiet is interrupted only the din of chatting fellow-museum-goers. In the exterior halls of the Egyptian, South Pacific, and Greek and Roman sculpture halls, tall windows invite a soft, illuminating light.
The Met is a two-million-square-foot museum, representing art from diverse times and geographies. In addition to European master paintings by Rembrandt, Monet, and Vermeer; classical Greek and Roman art; and American modern art, the Met houses unique collections of musical instruments and arms and armor. Exhibits represent non-European cultures, as well. African, Oceanic, Islamic, Byzantine, and Asian arts all have their own halls.
After walking through the encyclopedic collection, rest your feet near the Temple of Dendur, an authentic sandstone structure transported in pieces from Egypt. Dendur is surrounded by a reflecting pool and housed in a room with floor to ceiling windows looking out on Central Park's green lawn.
October sees the opening of two new temporary exhibits at the Met, both focused on American art and life. "American Stories: Paintings of Everyday Life, 1765 – 1915," on view from now through January 24, 2010, tells a cultural and social history through canvas. On display are the original works by some of the nation's most revered painters, including George Bellows, Mary Cassatt, George Caleb Bingham, Winslow Homer, and Frederic Remington. "Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans," closing January 3, takes the American story through the 1950s with Frank's photographs of his 1955-56 cross-country road trip. The exhibit displays 83 photographs from his influential book, The Americans (1959). The museum also screening films directed by Frank at 2:30pm, every Saturday through the end of October.