New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Museum of Natural History

It rained cats and dogs the entire day that one Saturday. So, I had a quick change of plans and decided that it’s a day to be spent indoors … at the museums. For the entire day, it was spent at the The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History.

Many of the museums in New York are located along what is known as the Museum Mile which runs along 5th Ave by Central Park. Along this stretch are ten museums .

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, also known as the “Mets” is not the same as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The Mets is actually one of the most influential art museum in the world along with the ranks of the Lovre in Paris. It is the home of numerous important art pieces too.

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Being a Saturday, it was very crowded. Looks like a lot of people had the same plan as I did too … spending the day at the museums. I first headed off to the cloak room. There was a long line which took me about 10 minutes before I could hand off my bag and jacket to them. All I needed for the day was my camera.

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Got myself the all important audio guide, a map of the museum and I am all set. Checking the floor plan, it appears that there is no way I could cover everything as I also wanted to visit the other museum too in the afternoon. They have an extensive collection and are located on two floors. I decided to cover the several Asian Art sections and European Paintings, and leave what ever time I had roaming the place until it’s time head off to the Natural History Museum.

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After my visit to Europe earlier this year when I had a chance to visit the Lovre and the Rijksmuseum, I had gathered quite a bit of knowledge about European Art. There was quite an extensive collection of Rembrandts here.

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The painting below by van Gogh is called Mother Roulin And Her Baby.

This one was one of two dozen paintings that van Gogh had done of the Roulin family who had encouraged and welcomed Vincent during his years on south of France when he started to exhibit troubleness, isolation and loneliness. This series of painting of the Roulins are some of the best loved works of van Gogh.

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It is in New York that I came across Picasso more and learned about his works.

A cornerstone of the Picasso collection in the Mets is this one of Getrude Stein. Getrude Stein was an American writer who had been famous for her works in the promotion of modern literature and art. In the early 20th century, Getrude responded with enthusiasm the new revolution in art, modern art. When the painting was made, Picasso was just 24 and had not had anyone posed for him for a portrait before. At the end, he made Getrude Stein sit through 90 sittings and still he did not complete the painting. When he finally completed it … well, Getrude did NOT like the painting.

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Picasso went thru several changes of styles over the years as a painter. Perhaps the most striking of which is the periods which is referred to as cubism and then later on surrealism. The painting below called “Girl Reading at a Table” is one such painting.

Although a married man, Picasso had quite a few lovers and mistresses in his life. When Picasso was almost 50 years old, he met a 17-year old French schoolgirl who became his mistress. Her name was Marie-Therese Walter and as it turned out that their relationship was the happiest among others. Legend had it that Picasso approached her and told her “Madam, you have a very beautiful face. Can I paint you?” … and he ended painting the one below!

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I also spent some time in the Greek and Roman Art section.

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My stomach was grumbling and I then went down to the cafeteria downstairs. It was quite a good one, I must say … unlike all the other ones I have been to museums around the world. Here they have real food … not just biscotti and coffee!

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I enjoyed the ancient Chinese Art section immensely. This is part of the extensive collection of Asian Arts and the collection at the Mets is considered as the largest Asian Arts collection on the west. I am particularly fascinated with the collection from the 5th century.

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The Asian collection included Japanese and Korean Art. That I can relate to somewhat. It’s the collection from the South and South-east Asian collection that I really do not spend a lot of time on. South Asian (India, Pakistan, Tibet) art is a lot dominated by sculptures of religious significance.

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On the Egyptian collection, the centerpiece is the complete re-assembled Temple of Dendur. It is a beautiful display for its surrounding … a reflecting pool and a wall of windows looking out to Central Park.

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I lost track of time and before I know it I had spent 2 hours more than I planned to at the Mets. I had walk across the Central Park to get to the Museum of Natural History. This was my first time seeing for myself how Central Park is like. It was well maintained. Today being a rainy day, there were not many people.

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Actually, I was rather upset getting to this museum later than I intended. Between the two museums, I would have loved natural history more. To add to the disappointment, the museum closed 2 hours earlier than normal because they have a function planned for the evening. What a bummer … I only had 1.5 hours left!

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I first went for a omni theater show at the planetarium. It was a waste of time actually … I only went in because I entered through the side entrance and they provide free omni theater tickets for CityPass holders.

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It was pretty rushed. At the end I only managed to cover a section of the Human Origin section. It was a fabulous museum, although some of the exhibits are visibly dated. I’ll come back and make sure I spend good time here … some day.

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This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. I was surprised that you managed to visit both museums in 1 day. I have been to AMNH 3x and have not covered everything. I guess I need 2 more visits to AMNH. I prefer AMNH than Mets. There are more interesting things to see there.

  2. It’s called the Met, dopey. No one calls it “the Mets.” That’s a baseball team.

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