So while in NYC this past summer, I decided to make a little art history game: I wanted to see if it was at all humanly possible to spend ALL DAY at The Metropolitan Museum and see “it all.” The short answer is no and I would never recommend it to anyone. However, it was a fun experiment!
Stats for the day:
- Arrived: 10:10 am
- Left: 8:45 pm
- Food: pizza (outside the museum), 2pm coffee break in the Balcony, sandwich in the American Wing for dinner
- Bathroom Breaks: only 2 (shockingly)
- Friends that came to visit: 4 total in two different sessions
- Most surprising art piece: Hatshepsut (I had no idea she was so big!)
- Favorite section: European interior design (mostly because I wanted to nap on the beds)
- Would I do it again? HELL NO
I was in line before the museum opened and officially bought my ticket at 10:10 am, a mere 10 minutes after official opening. From there I got a map and a pen to track my progress as I went through the day. The photo above shows my day-long progress; any room I visited I crossed out. There were some closed exhibits and I tried to indicate them all of them on the map.
A note about how I went through each exhibit: I did not read EVERY plaque and sign and there are some rooms I spent significant more time in than others. However, I did not “count” any rooms I just walked through, because that is totally not “seeing” art. Of course I could have certainly spent more time reading and looking but not everything moves me so I fluctuated my viewing time according to my interest.
The Morning Session
I spent the first couple of hours by myself wandering around through some Ancient exhibits. One of my major goals in the Egyptian Art wing was the statue of Hatshepsut (because it is part of the AP Art History curriculum) and the Temple of Dendur because I remember that being an awe-inspiring room when I visited as a kid. Neither disappointed!
Read more: Museums with Kids (& Fidgety Adults)
Art with Friends: Part I
I told the group of my Religious Worlds of New York summer program that they could join me at the museum and I could do a mini-lesson and we could wander around. I promised them they could pick any exhibit so long as I did not already do it (no double dipping on this day!).
During the morning I had one of my friends come by and we explored the religious art of the Middle Ages. We both learned a lot from each other; she had a lot of theological knowledge from working at a Catholic school up north. And I taught her how to play “Name that Saint; “we had a ton of fun running around the religious art of Europe.
Read more about playing “Name that Saint” with my blog post Museum Madness: Making the Most of your Museum Visit
After some Medieval Art, we decided to change it up by visiting the Ancient Near East and Islamic Wings. This is some of my favorite art to see in person because of the intricate details, patterning and stylized human figures. The Moroccan Court (seen above) in particular is exquisite because it was made my hand my Moroccan artisans.
Read more: The Diversity of the Islamic World
Early Afternoon Session
I did leave the museum for 20-30 minutes to eat some pizza, get some fresh air, and reinvigorate myself for a long afternoon and evening! After my break I visited the extensive Medieval and European Decorative Arts Wing. You can see sections of architecture, armor, interior design, and so many more “full immersion” exhibits.
Read more: 11 Favorite Things to do in NYC
Asian Art Exhibits
Although the Metropolitan Museum is best known for their excellent European and Ancient art, they have a lot to offer in the Non-Western category also. I spent a good amount of time in the Buddhist and Asian (East & Southeast) Exhibits which included a huge variety of styles and each room was incredibly different from the last.
Read more: Religious Worlds of New York Site Visits
Art with Friends: Part 2
Luckily I had some more friends from my summer program pop in around mid-afternoon (otherwise I think I would have started talking to the statues). We saw a couple of different things according to the desires of the group: Ancient Greece & Rome, Oceania, and Modern Art.
Read more: AP Art History Hunting in Athens, Greece
So my friends left around 6 pm and I had 3 hours to go. I stopped to eat dinner (and charge my phone) then resumed my pilgrimage. At this point I knew there was no way I was going to finish to I wanted a combination of seeing a lot with enjoyment so I reviewed my map and just literally wandered wherever I wanted to go until I was forcibly kicked out by the guards.
Funny story: as I was wandering around upstairs in the European Painting Wing again a guard came up to me and said “Little lady, you’re still here?” I was shocked and he said he remembered me giving a lecture to my friend in the morning. I told him my plan for the day and he said I was crazy, in which I wholeheartedly agreed and I went on my way. 🙂