If you had told me in December of last year (the last time I was at The Met) that it would be another 9 months before I returned to this international art institution, I likely would not have believed you. The Metropolitan Museum is one of those privileges of citizenship New Yorkers hold dear. To have access (locals can pay-as-you-please) to this massive sampling of centuries of the world’s greatest art is a perk of living in Gotham I avail myself of as often as possible.
And so, as soon as the museums reopened, I made plans for my first visit to the Met Museum in 2020. As per city and state regulations, admission to any indoor activity is greatly reduced, and you must reserve a timed entry space in line so that the museum can control capacity.
When I arrived, there was a socially distanced queue in the shade of the allée lined with Little Leaf linden trees that passed by the local food trucks that have returned and wound around the lovely choreographed water fountain in the plaza. The line paused only briefly to allow museum staff to take the temperature of everyone before proceeding up the stairs past Yoko Ono’s new DREAM TOGETHER installation–her “message of hope and unity” in response to the COVID19 crisis–and into the museum.
Once inside, per usual, my bag was searched by mask-wearing security staff. Bag and coat check were closed. There were two lines for tickets–one for NY and NJ residents with proof of residence who are welcome to pay as much or as little as we are able, and one for non-residents.
While I was walking around, everyone I saw–both staff and guests–were wearing masks. The lines to the restrooms were socially distanced, and only 3 people (50% capacity) were allowed in at a time.
There were only 2 lines (appropriately spaced out) for exhibitions–one for the brand new “Making the Met” show, which I did not visit, and one for the rooftop, which I did visit (see below).
All dining facilities inside the museum were closed.
The sheer vastness of the Met can be overwhelming. It’s best to plan out what you want to see beforehand, and if the exhibitions you’re interested in are new and popular, prepare to wait in line.
Even though I was there mainly for a little art therapy and to commune with the space, I had a plan. The Met’s website is super useful for planning your trip. You can type in the name of the artists you’re interested in, and it will tell you the exact locations in the museum of any of their artworks that are currently on display.
So, the night before my visit, I typed in “Jackson Pollock”, my favorite. Yes! Three paintings were on display in the “Epic Abstraction” exhibition (Click here if you’re interested in learning more about the exhibition and the included works.) And so, I passed by the Greek and Roman arts; Africa, Ocean, and the Americas; and into the Modern Art wing in the southwestern-most corner of the museum.
Glee isn’t really a reaction Pollock’s work tends to illicit, but I was nonetheless happy once again to be in the presence of his large canvases. Rather than reproduce it here, I have linked to the pages on the Met’s website that contain descriptions, details, and commentary on each of the paintings.
I can stand and stare into a single Pollock painting for a good long time. And I did.
Afterwards, I passed out the back of the gallery into a stairwell with windows onto the park where resides another of my favorite works of art in The Met’s permanent collection: Kiki Smith’s strong statue of Lilith perched sideways on a wall like Spiderman. [31 1/2 x 27 x 17 1/2 in. Bronze with glass eyes]
One of my favorite details about this work is that Kiki Smith originally created the sculpture in papier mache to make it easier to hang on the wall. The heft of the bronze, though, is stunning in this version as it lends a greater sense of strength and power to the creation.
I then decided to head to the rooftop to see the new installation by Mexican artist Héctor Zamora titled “Lattice Detour”.
According to the details provided by The Met, “Zamora is known for works that engage public spaces and the built environment. In his practice, Zamora reinvents and redefines conventional exhibition spaces, generating friction between the common roles of public and private, exterior and interior, organic and geometric, real and imaginary.”
The open-air quality of the piece when contrasted with it being created in concrete and terra-cotta spoke to me of our current predicament concerning air flow and space.
Interview with Héctor Zamora
Stay tuned for next week’s part 2 of my first visit to The Met in 2020. If you haven’t already subscribed to the WanderWell Weekly e-news, please do so by scrolling to the bottom of this page and completing the short form.