Ever since its establishment in 1870 the Museum has acquired important examples of American Art. A separate "American Wing" building to display the domestic arts of the seventeenth–early nineteenth centuries opened in 1924; paintings galleries and an enclosed sculpture court were added in 1980.
Posted: Friday, March 13, 2015
"[Traylor] was beautiful to see—so right with himself and at peace—as the rich imagery of his long life welled up into his drawings and paintings."
—Charles Shannon, 1985
A few weeks ago in gallery 749—where we've been featuring a range of nineteenth-century American folk art—we installed eight drawings from the late 1930s by the acclaimed pioneer of so-called outsider art, Bill Traylor (1853/54–1949). This is the first time in twenty years that these works have been seen at the Met—and the very first in The American Wing.
Posted: Tuesday, December 16, 2014
The current exhibition Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions, 2003–2014 features a magnificent and historically important sword that was presented to the Revolutionary War hero Colonel Marinus Willett (1740–1830). In about 1791, American artist Ralph Earl (1751–1801) painted a full-length portrait of Willett (currently hanging in gallery 753 in The American Wing) that commemorates his extraordinary service during the War. Earl made a point of including a detailed rendition of the sword, which is shown hanging from Willett's waist.
Posted: Friday, October 31, 2014
After the exhibition The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925 closed at the Met on April 13, 2014, it traveled to the Denver Art Museum, where it was on view through August 31. While Colorado is located in the heart of the American West, the show's current venue, the Nanjing Museum in China, represents an exciting new frontier for these sculptures. This is certainly not the first exhibition of American art to travel to China, but it is the first focused on bronze statuettes—including forty-four works by twenty-two artists, with the roster of lenders comprising public and private collections in and around New York and Denver. Although fewer objects are included in the Nanjing Museum presentation than in either the New York or Denver venues, the organizing structure remains the same: Old West themes representing American Indians, cowboys and settlers, and animals of the plains and mountains.
Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014
To coincide with the opening of the exhibition The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925, Thayer Tolles—the Met's Marica F. Vilcek Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture in The American Wing—has coauthored an evocative catalogue that explores the themes of the Old West as brought to life in enduringly popular sculptures. The publication includes new photography, essays that consider the complex role artists played in constructing the public perception of the West, and an illustrated chronology of historical and artistic events.
Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012
One hundred and thirty-seven years ago this weekend, on November 24, 1875, the American businessman and philanthropist William Backhouse Astor died. Just three years earlier, Astor had been responsible for a milestone in Metropolitan Museum of Art history: donating to the newly established institution its first work of art made by an American, the marble statue California by Hiram Powers.
Posted: Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Posted: Friday, January 13, 2012
This week we celebrated the completion of the rebuilding of the Met's extraordinary American Wing, and in doing so unequivocally acknowledged the importance of the arts of this nation to the Metropolitan Museum.
Posted: Wednesday, January 12, 2011
In the early nineteenth century, American wall paintings developed from oil-on-wood works that formed part of a room's wall paneling into large-scale, floor-to-ceiling works on plaster. Much of the scholarship surrounding these wall paintings has focused on the artists who created them for homes throughout New England. As the 2010–2011 Douglass Foundation Fellow in The American Wing, my goal is to study instead the homeowners who commissioned the works, as well as the histories of the houses in which they were completed.
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: Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Last May, when the seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and early nineteenth-century period rooms in the "old" American Wing building (1924) reopened after several years of renovation, visitors noticed many changes. Some were huge—we had removed several rooms and moved or replaced others—while some were more subtle, like the new lighting.