Posted: Monday, December 20, 2010
Thirty-five years ago today, on December 20, 1975, United States President Gerald R. Ford signed into law the Arts and Artifacts Indemnity Act (PDF), which gave the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities the authority to insure international exhibitions that traveled from overseas to U.S. museums. This legislation was a watershed moment in the history of art exhibitions in the United States, making it possible for museums around the world to collaborate with U.S. institutions on traveling loan shows while minimizing insurance costs to the participating institutions.
Posted: Friday, December 17, 2010
For visitors to the Metropolitan, the vast amount of amazing art on display may make it difficult to appreciate the main building's architecture as anything other than a backdrop. However, with a brief introduction, the Museum's rich architectural history comes to life and serves as a valuable complement to its collections.
Posted: Friday, November 19, 2010
On November 21, 1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art accessioned its first work of art—a Roman marble sarcophagus found in 1863 at Tarsus in Cilicia (modern southern Turkey). This finely worked but unfinished sarcophagus came to the Museum as a gift from J. Abdo Debbas, the American vice consul at Tarsus. Debbas, a native of the province of Adana, Turkey, served in the United States Department of State there until 1882.
Posted: Friday, November 12, 2010
Forty years ago this weekend, on November 14, 1970, the exhibition Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. This was the last in a series of five major exhibitions organized over the course of eighteen months (October 1969–February 1971) in celebration of the Museum's centennial.
Posted: Sunday, October 31, 2010
One hundred years ago today, Edward Robinson, curator of classical art and assistant director at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, was named the Museum's third director. Known for his broad knowledge, connoisseurship, and professionalism, he was a logical choice to replace the accomplished Sir Casper Purdon Clarke, who had reluctantly resigned from his duties after a long struggle with declining health.
Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2010
"The secret of Édouard Baldus"—that was the subject line of an email I received recently. I rolled my eyes. "Right," I said to myself, "the secret of Édouard Baldus." I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Édouard Baldus (1813–1889), the nineteenth-century French photographer of landscape and architecture, and had the enormous pleasure of introducing him to the general public through a beautiful show and catalogue in 1994. Ever since, I've been "Mr. Baldus."
Posted: Monday, October 18, 2010
On October 18, 1880, Metropolitan Museum of Art Director Luigi Palma di Cesnola urged the Museum's Trustees to create an art library that would help fulfill the institution's educational mission. The Museum's original 1870 New York State charter had specifically committed the new institution to "establishing and maintaining . . . a museum and library of art."
Posted: Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010
In 1996 mosaics were accidentally uncovered during highway construction in the modern Israeli town of Lod, not far from Tel Aviv (see map). Lod is ancient Lydda, which was destroyed by the Romans in a.d. 66 during the Jewish War. Refounded by Hadrian as Diospolis, Lydda was awarded the rank of a Roman colony under Septimius Severus in a.d. 200.
Posted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Inside the museum—not just the Met but any art museum—photography has been birthed in hallways. It began to spring from the shoulders of museums' print departments in the 1920s and 1930s, when modernism was making a case for photography as an independent art form. Over the decades it has spread institutionally through the in-between spaces that architecturally mirror the medium's proudly mongrel status as both art and not art.