Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2014
The Museum offers hundreds of events and programs each month—including lectures, performances, tours, family activities, and more. The following listings are just a sample of our upcoming programs.
Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2014
One thing you learn quickly in conservation is that the objects under your care make the rules! Frequently, well-thought-through plans or strategies for approaches to treatment have to be tweaked or completely rethought.
Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Sergio Gomez and a team of investigators under the
Feathered Serpent Pyramid at the site of Teotihuacan—one of the largest and most elaborate pyramids of the ancient world—are exploring a recently discovered man-made tunnel that passes under the east-west axis of the building, and have already uncovered rich dedicatory offerings using unmanned vehicles and controlled excavations (fig. 1). Teotihuacan is remarkable for the scale and elaboration of its architecture, the well-organized grid on which the city was planned, and an artistic tradition that included stone sculpture, mural painting, and pottery. The city's residents lived in complex apartment compounds from the late first millennium b.c. to the mid-seventh century a.d., suggesting a relatively stable social structure unlike that of other cities in the ancient New World. There were even neighborhoods of foreigners who continued their local traditions in distinct "barrios" of the city. A truly cosmopolitan place, Teotihuacan was the Manhattan of its time—a hub of activity and a destination for those from far away.
Posted: Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Works of art at the Met are often presented in isolation to give the viewer an opportunity to examine them closely and appreciate their artistic merit, fine craftsmanship, use of materials, and other details. Because of these objects' (near) impeccable state when exhibited, I sometimes forget they have lived entire lives before arriving at the Museum and often have passed through many hands and traveled long distances. Indeed, the life of an object is so much richer, more complicated, and more convoluted than its shining presence in a display case can convey.
While researching the objects selected for the exhibition
Treasures from India: Jewels from The Al-Thani Collection (on view through January 25, 2015), I was continually inspired by these histories and fascinated by the winding paths these works had taken before their arrival in our galleries.
Posted: Monday, November 17, 2014
The Metropolitan Museum of Art boasts a collection of almost one thousand
, with a particular emphasis on works from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition to the selection currently displayed in the exhibition netsuke , on view September 27, 2014–January 19, 2015, daily Kimono: A Modern History netsuke posts can also be seen on the Museum's Twitter account throughout the month of November as part of the campaign #NetsukeNovember.
Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
The way that kimonos are used and the types of designs to decorate them have shifted dramatically over the last 150 years, shaped by the dialogue of Japanese traditional craft art with modern inventions and Western ideas. As shown in a selection of objects currently found in the exhibition
, on view through January 19, 2015, we can follow this narrative of cultural interaction by focusing on the depiction of water motifs used on kimono. Kimono: A Modern History
Posted: Monday, November 10, 2014
What happens when gaming students are let loose on the Met's collection? We found our answer to this question this past spring when staff from the
Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation collaborated with a group of intrepid and creative students at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). The students were supervised by their professor, Elizabeth Goins, in a course titled "Interactive Design for Museums," part of RIT's Museum Games & Technology Initiative. The students were tasked with communicating the inside information conservators gather from studying the materials and techniques of works of art through a fun and engaging game aimed at general audiences.
Posted: Monday, November 10, 2014
In the exhibition
, on view from November 11, 2014, through December 6, 2015, the Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions, 2003–2014 Department of Arms and Armor is reflecting on its recent growth and development. Between 2003 and 2014, about three hundred objects were added to the collection, many of which have been put on permanent display in the Arms and Armor galleries; the exhibition highlights about forty other acquisitions from this period that, for the most part, are unpublished and have never before been on display.
Posted: Friday, November 7, 2014
Did you know that until 1992, Drawings and Prints were two separate departments within the Museum? Behind the scenes, there are many physical reminders of this earlier era, including separate storerooms, separate study rooms, and staff offices spread over two floors. However, both in the public galleries as well as conceptually, these two areas of the collection are now wholly integrated, allowing for a richer understanding of how works on paper were made and used.
Posted: Thursday, November 6, 2014
That's right; our newly acquired
Jabach portrait arrived at the Museum with no frame. When I inquired about the omission, I was told that the frame it had had in London was not worth sending over. Besides, that frame no longer fit the picture, since it had been made when the top of the canvas was folded over. (See " The Jabach Conservation Continued: Next Steps" for more on the fold in the canvas.)
Posted: Friday, October 31, 2014
After the exhibition
closed at the Met on April 13, 2014, it traveled to the The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925 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: Thursday, October 30, 2014
The Museum's Editorial Department presents this season's new titles that celebrate the Met's collection and special exhibitions. The following are eight spectacular publications, just off the presses.
Posted: Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Now that I've finished the cleaning of the
Jabach portrait, it is time to deal with the distortion resulting from the top of the picture having been folded over (as described in my last post). We first had to construct a platform on which to lay the picture face down while working on the reverse side of the canvas. This was custom built by our structural specialist, George Bisacca.
Posted: Wednesday, October 15, 2014
A tapestry designer, painter, draftsman, and publisher of architectural treatises, Pieter Coecke van Aelst was quite literally a Renaissance man. Though he was a master of many media while active from the 1520s until his death in 1550, his contributions have been largely forgotten today.
, the catalogue accompanying the Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry exhibition currently on view through January 11, 2015, covers much more than just the artist's tapestries and aims to fill the nearly fifty-year gap in the literature on this great artist. I spoke with the catalogue's author, Associate Curator Elizabeth A. H. Cleland, about the book, her interest in Coecke, and why she thinks this Northern Renaissance master has been neglected in recent scholarship.
Posted: Friday, October 10, 2014
The Met is known by most for its monumental building, its extraordinary and massive collection of works of art, and its incredible team of curators. But on the evening of Friday, October 17, the Met will take on an entirely different identity as a super-cool destination for teens with its first-ever teen night, affectionately dubbed
Teens Take the Met.
Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014
A selection of ten drawings by Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863) is
now on view in the Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Gallery. The display features several highlights from a recent gift of forty-three Delacroix drawings from the collection of Mrs. Karen B. Cohen that focus on the artist's Moroccan subjects. Many of these works were inspired by Delacroix's journey to North Africa in 1832—including studies related to his painting of The Sultan of Morocco and His Entourage, animal drawings such as a ferocious tiger, and figure studies of Arab peoples and costumes.
Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Posted: Thursday, September 25, 2014
When researchers deciphering the Classic Maya (ca.
a.d. 250–900) hieroglyphic writing turned their attention to texts on ceramic vessels, they encountered a repeated series of similar signs first known as the "Primary Standard Sequence." The signs were statements that Classic Maya artists used to name the type of vessel (e.g., "plate" vs. "drinking cup"), the material it originally held (e.g., "chocolate" vs. "tamales"), and the owner or giver of the gift. For instance, the text around the rim of the vessel from the Met's collection (fig. 1, shown at left) identifies it as a "drinking cup."
Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Now that the varnish removal from the Jabach portrait is finished, it's time to turn to a rather more thorny issue: the structural conservation work.
The original and surprisingly fine canvas is constructed from five pieces of fabric: a large, central rectangle; two horizontal bands, one each top and bottom; and two vertical bands, one each at the left- and right-hand sides. The horizontal bands run the full width of the composition. This construction is entirely original, planned from the outset to accommodate the monumental scale of the painting while carefully situating the seams in the peripheral areas of the composition.
Posted: Monday, September 15, 2014
This Wednesday, September 17, join us on Twitter for
Ask a Curator Day. Three curators will answer your questions about their jobs, collections, exhibitions, and more during live Twitter Q&As. You can tweet your questions to @metmuseum using the #AskaCurator hashtag both in advance and during the following sessions.
Posted: Monday, September 15, 2014
With the start of a new school year, it is a great time to learn about the art and cultures of Oceania with the help of this fascinating new publication, written specifically to provide the keys to understanding the significance and meaning of Oceanic art.
How to Read Oceanic Art is a clear and detailed introduction to Oceanic art as seen through the Met's comprehensive collection. I recently spoke with the book's author, Eric Kjellgren—formerly the Evelyn A. J. Hall and John A. Friede Associate Curator for Oceanic Art in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas—about this engaging introduction to Oceanic art and his interest in the artistic traditions of the Pacific Islands.
Posted: Friday, September 12, 2014
During the summer of 1644, the city of Nanjing lived beneath a cloud of anxiety and fear. The once-vibrant southern capital of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) had become home to the remnants of the Ming court, a bedraggled and shaken group who had fled south after the fall of Beijing in April of that year. The shock of seeing their capital fall, of witnessing their young emperor retreat behind the Forbidden City and commit suicide—these were the traumas that the court brought south to Nanjing. Even as they struggled to establish a temporary capital in the south, up north the Manchus prepared to complete their conquest of the empire. Like a city preparing for the arrival of a hurricane, Nanjing waited, and feared.
Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2014
Those of us who work in museums are as curious as any visitor to know about all the objects that fill a given painting. In the case of Charles Le Brun's
Jabach portrait, a painting of a well-to-do family in a luxurious Parisian residence, there's a lot to catch your eye; we see a number of things the family must have owned and treasured.
Posted: Wednesday, September 10, 2014
It is a great day for the Met and a great day for the City of New York. More than a century after the completion of the Met's Fifth Avenue facade and forty years after its last plaza renovation, the Museum has revived one of the great outdoor spaces in New York.
Posted: Tuesday, September 2, 2014
I'm pleased to announce the launch of the
Met app created by the Museum's Digital Media Department. This free digital resource is the easiest way for the Met community, both local and global, to stay current with what's happening at the Museum every day—wherever you are.
Posted: Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The cleaning of the
Jabach portrait is going well, and we in Paintings Conservation are all transfixed by the exceptional quality of the painting. One area I was particularly looking forward to seeing without the yellowed varnish was the beautiful figure of Jabach's daughter Anna Maria. She really anchors the right-hand side of the composition, and her self-aware, direct gaze pulls us into the Jabach family's rarefied world. Below are some photographs that I took during the cleaning.
Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Posted: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
In June 2014 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) named the "Precolumbian Chiefdom Settlements with Stone Spheres of the Diquís" to its
World Heritage List, the first cultural site from Costa Rica to make the list of global heritage sites. The team from the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, led by archaeologist Dr. Francisco Corrales Ulloa, nominated these sites as an "outstanding representation of the complex social, economic and political systems, as well as the refined cultural achievements, of chiefdom societies of the south Central American region during the pre-Columbian period a.d. 500–1500."
Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Well, if you live in New York and work at the Metropolitan Museum, there's really only one acceptable answer to that question! But what happens when two versions of a picture exist, as is the case with the Metropolitan's
new painting by Charles Le Brun of the German banker Everhard Jabach (1618–1695)? I worried about this as we entered into negotiations for the purchase of the picture.
Posted: Friday, August 8, 2014
For the first time in recent memory,
all seventeen of the Met's paintings by Vincent van Gogh—the largest collection of the artist's work on this side of the Atlantic—are in house and on view in galleries 823, 826, and 961. Visitors can enjoy a full range of highlights from the artist's prolific years in France, from portraits to still lifes to landscapes. These masterpieces are often committed to exhibitions around the world, making this a not-to-be-missed occasion.
Posted: Friday, August 8, 2014
Well known for the outstanding storytelling of his cycles of paintings, the Renaissance artist Vittore Carpaccio (1460/66?–1525/26) was also a prolific draftsman. Four of the artist's drawings are part of the Met's collection and currently on view in the
Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Gallery.
Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2014
82nd & Fifth web feature redefined the online museum experience: in two-minute episodes, one hundred Met curators talked about the work of art that changed the way they see the world—one curator, one work, two minutes at a time. That content is now available on an iPad app in twelve languages. You can download, favorite, and share episodes, and create your own collections.
Posted: Wednesday, July 30, 2014
I had first seen the
Jabach family portrait in a warehouse in London over a year ago and loved it, but I'll admit that when it finally arrived in our paintings conservation studio at the Museum this past June, I was a bit overwhelmed—it's enormous! Fortunately, the work's current condition needs to be fully documented before conservation can begin. This not only helps a conservator understand the painting and its issues but also provides some breathing space and thinking time.
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
"…how dismal is progress without publicity…individuals love more to bask in the sunshine of popularity than they do to improve in some obscure intellectual shade. Merit is no object, conspicuity all."
Sister Carrie (1900)
The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection of printed ephemera in the
Department of Drawings and Prints includes over six thousand "tobacco cards" from the late 1800s that depict actresses of various levels of celebrity. Twenty-seven of these cards—which were inserted in cigarette packs and intended to be collected and traded much like baseball cards—advertise Daisy Murdoch, a mid-level burlesque actress of the 1880s. She constituted what we might call a "one-hit wonder" today; she was recognized by the public almost solely for her role as Cupid in the Bijou Opera Company's traveling production of Orpheus and Eurydice (1883–85). Murdoch's cards present a clear example of the dissemination of imagery and commodification of celebrity during this unique moment in print culture and theater history.
Posted: Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Understanding an art object requires close observation and an interdisciplinary course of investigation that integrates the work of curators and conservators, the arts and the sciences. This work, however, is often done behind a curtain (so to speak), and visitors rarely have the opportunity to gain insight into the process. On August 4, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will unveil the secret world of curators and conservators with its latest installation in
Gallery 599, . This one-room exhibition will give visitors a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the fascinating and indispensable questions Museum curators and conservators pose as they investigate six luxurious, late Renaissance tapestry-woven cushion covers depicting scenes from the lives of biblical figureheads Abraham and Isaac. Examining Opulence: A Set of Renaissance Tapestry Cushions
Posted: Friday, July 25, 2014
Met Museum Presents begins its third season in September, which will bring an array of dazzling site-specific, gallery-based performances to the Museum. Filling the Met's spaces with music, dance, opera, and theater, world-class performers will continue our mission of creating exciting programs for the Museum and its collection, allowing audiences an unparalleled experience.
Posted: Wednesday, July 23, 2014
The industrialization and mechanization of war in the early twentieth century—which meant an increased use of artillery, tanks, and machine guns, and the advent of trench warfare—resulted in an unprecedented number of killed and wounded soldiers right from the outset of World War I in 1914. The large number of head wounds suffered by combatants soon made it apparent that metal helmets, though long out of use, were absolutely necessary on the modern battlefield and that other forms of armor also should be explored. Shortly after the United States entered the war in 1917, the government turned to Dr. Bashford Dean, curator of arms and armor at the Metropolitan Museum, to address the situation.
Posted: Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Numerous representations of the sea are woven into the work of Claude Debussy (1862–1918). The French composer regularly referenced his awe of the sea and its power, and even noted that he had "intended for the noble career of a sailor" in a 1912 letter to close friend and composer André Messager. Although the sea had already played a recurring character throughout much of his piano music, the first appearance of this subject in Debussy's orchestral output was the final movement of his 1899 work
Trois Nocturnes, "Sirènes," in which he gave life to the deadly mythological seductresses by adding a wordless female choir to the standard orchestral forces.
Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014
"The Administrator of Kuaiji [Wang Xizhi, ca. 303–ca. 361] is all mannerist cliché.
As the study of calligraphy declines, I enjoy a free rein with a laugh.
Scornful of following known calligraphers like a maid,
I take the stone tablet of Mount Hua as my master."
In 1736, leading artist Jin Nong (1687–1773) wrote this iconoclastic quatrain that reflects a momentous turning point in the development of Chinese calligraphy during his time. Abandoning the venerated tradition defined by the classic elegance of its patriarch, Wang Xizhi, Jin Nong turned to an earlier, less-sophisticated model—stone inscriptions of the ancient Han dynasty (206
b.c.–a.d. 220)—for guidance.
Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Ever wonder what it would have been like to live in Paris in the golden age of the French monarchy and to have the money to do it in style?
Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014
For arts institutions, engaging the younger demographic seems to be on everyone's mind. All eyes are on the twenty-somethings, and while those capricious millennials are important, it's the kids—the seven- to sixteen-year-olds seated next to their parents, still curious and open-minded—who are truly the ones with the potential to become loyal and life-long art fans.
Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2014
The online feature
One Met. Many Worlds. launched on June 9, and recently became available as an e-book on The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide Amazon, Google Play, and iTunes; the print version will soon be released in Arabic, German, Korean, and Russian. These two projects present different perspectives on the highlights of the Museum's collection: One Met. Many Worlds. is driven by universal concepts that encourage the viewer to explore artworks in a new ways, while the Guide provides an essential art history background in a more traditional format. I recently spoke with Amy Liebster, associate coordinator for online publications, about both the web feature and the various versions of the print guide.
Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014
Architect Josef Hoffman, painter Koloman Moser, and textile industrialist Fritz Waerndorfer founded the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop) in 1903 as a cooperative for artists and artisans. The Wiener Werkstätte began publishing postcards in 1907 and continued until the beginning of World War I. The postcards were among the least expensive or luxurious of the Wiener Werkstätte's products, which included furnishings for the homes of Viennese aristocrats. Most of the designs were intended solely for the postcard format, while a few were reproductions of earlier paintings.
Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014
There's a corner you turn in the Egyptian Wing of the Metropolitan Museum where the labyrinth of galleries suddenly opens up into a staggering vista of
The Temple of Dendur. Though I now always know what I'm about to see, turning that corner is still a powerful experience. Walking into Alarm Will Sound's first rehearsal for I Was Here I Was I at the Temple, I was struck by what an incredible thing it is to be creating art at the Met. We created I Was Here I Was I expressly for The Temple of Dendur, using it not only as venue, but as subject.
Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Join us in
Gallery 399 for a special chance to see the installation of Sol LeWitt's 1982 Wall Drawing #370 in progress. The exhibition officially opens on June 30.
Above: Time-lapse photography of installers preparing Sol LeWitt's
Wall Drawing #370.
The loan of Wall Drawing #370 is courtesy of The Estate of Sol LeWitt. The installation is made possible by The Modern Circle. Director/Producer: Kate Farrell; Time-Lapse Photography: Thomas Ling; Production Assistants: Caiti Borruso, Emily Chang
Posted: Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Many #tapestrytuesday readers have asked why some tapestries in the Met's collection have such diverse color palettes. As it turns out, the question you should be asking isn't "Why?" but "Dye?" Understanding the preservation or degradation of a tapestry's color is a complex sort of query whose answer is largely influenced by the dyes used to color its threads. To help unravel the mystery of tapestry colors, I recently sat down for a fascinating lesson in dyeing with two of the Museum's tapestry experts: Cristina Carr, conservator in the Department of Textile Conservation; and Nobuko Shibayama, associate research scientist in the Department of Scientific Research.
Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Sarah Scaturro and Glenn Petersen are conservators in The Costume Institute who not only contributed to the conservation of Charles James's works in
, on view through August 10, but also authored an essay for the Charles James: Beyond Fashion catalogue which accompanies the exhibition. The book offers a comprehensive study of the life and work of legendary Anglo-American couturier Charles James (1906−1978) and highlights his virtuosity and inventiveness. This publication also includes early photographs and rarely seen archival items, such as muslin study pieces, dress forms, and sketches.
Posted: Monday, June 16, 2014
The year 2014 marks the five-hundredth anniversary of Albrecht Dürer's
(1514), a masterpiece of engraving whose imagery has fascinated artists, historians, scientists, and mathematicians for centuries. In honor of this occasion, a Melencolia I small display of Melencolia and several works it influenced is on view through July 14 in the Robert Wood Johnson Jr. Gallery.
Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014
When Kate Soper's adventurous score for
I Was Here I Was I fills The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing on June 20, the gallery itself will be at the center of the performance. The Temple of Dendur has long been an unrivaled venue for concerts, but for this dramatic and unprecedented finale to Alarm Will Sound's yearlong residency, the Temple will be the principal character in a story that spans two millennia and three different storylines.