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A Half Day at the Met: The Director's Tour for the Second Floor

Met Director Thomas P. Campbell planned this itinerary for you to explore some of the masterpieces in this encyclopedic collection of world art. You'll see great works of art and great spaces as this two-part tour takes you through the centuries and introduces you to cultures throughout the world—and throughout the Museum. This itinerary is available as an audio guide for visitors who want to hear the Director's advice and insights in his own voice.

Second-floor galleries house extraordinary holdings from throughout Asia, one of the world's finest collections of old master paintings from Europe, the art of the Ancient Near East, and beloved masterpieces of Impressionist, post-Impressionist, and modern art.

Tour stops (14)

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    The Great Hall Balcony

    With a majestic view of the Met's magnificent architecture, the Great Hall Balcony is the perfect spot to begin a tour of the second floor of the Museum. From here, there is a different culture in every direction, spanning over 5,000 years of history.

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    Bodhisattva and Buddha of Medicine Bhaishajyaguru

    A soaring gallery of colossal Chinese Buddhist sculpture and painting serves as a threshold into the Met's extensive Asian art collections. The mix of visual traditions evident in a giant sixth-century stone figure reveals the international character of Buddhism and a monumental painting from a monastery shows a complex vision of paradise.

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    Early Chinese Gallery and Female Dancer

    The objects here chart the development of Chinese culture in antiquity and show a range of materials, from 5,000 year old ceramic vessels to beautifully worked jade and bronze. Of particular note, is an ancient ceramic figure of a female dancer. The graceful figure was buried in a tomb to entertain the deceased in the afterlife.

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    The Astor Chinese Garden Court

    Built by a team of Chinese artisans, this exquisite courtyard is based on a seventeenth-century garden near Shanghai and is one of the highlights of the Met's Asian wing. A covered walkway reveals different perspectives as you move through it, mimicking the act of unrolling a Chinese scroll painting.

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    Dancing Celestial Diety (Devata)

    A jewel within our Southeast Asian galleries, this twelfth-century twisting figure embodies the Indian idea that physical perfection is a sign of spiritual fulfillment. The dancer is a beautiful study of surface and form, using contrasting textures and contours to evoke sensuous movement.

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    Dainichi Nyorai

    This gallery transports us to twelfth-century Japan. The sculpture here reflects Japanese Buddhism and its pantheon of sacred figures in a setting designed to evoke a Buddhist temple.

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    Giambattista Tiepolo, The Triumph of Marius

    The massive eighteenth-century paintings in this gallery were designed to function as complete environments, surrounding the viewer within the opulent rooms of a Venetian palace. Tiepolo had a wonderful way of handling paint and a genius for presenting scenes from history or myth in a vividly dramatic way.

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    Rembrandt, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer

    This painting is one of the great masterpieces by Rembrandt. With dramatic contrasts of light and dark, Rembrandt portrays three luminaries of classical antiquity—Aristotle, Homer, and Alexander the Great—linking generations of thinkers and rulers to craft a poignant portrait of wisdom and humanity.

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    Vermeer, Young Woman with a Water Pitcher

    There are only thirty-six paintings by Vermeer known to exist, and this work is among the most iconic. Here, Vermeer captures the nuance of light's optical effects within a simple domestic interior. The result is a luminous picture, superbly structured, with every element in perfect balance.

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    Reliefs from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II

    Travel back over 2,500 years in time to a royal palace built for the capital of the Assyrian empire. The sculptural decoration in this gallery was created to honor the Assyrian king, as images of supernatural creatures demonstrate his majesty and divine right as ruler.  

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    Manet, Young Lady in 1866

    Edouard Manet was at the forefront of modernism when he painted this picture in 1866. Critics at the time were struck by his use of a contemporary woman as a subject, without the pretense of any historical or mythological narrative. Manet was also a virtuoso with paint, as his lively brushwork demonstrates here. 

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    Gallery of Monet's Series Paintings

    Monet was one of the pioneers of Impressionism in the late nineteenth century. These paintings show him working outdoors and in series—painting the same subject at different times and in different atmospheric conditions to convey the changing effects of light. 

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    Van Gogh, Wheat Field with Cypresses

    Van Gogh also painted directly from nature and when he arrived in the south of France in 1888, he was drawn to the clarity of light, the vibrant colors, and the majestic cypress trees throughout the landscape. In this rich and saturated painting, van Gogh captures the rush of the wind, the extreme heat of the afternoon, and a sense of immediacy through his thick layers of paint.  

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    Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm

    Abstract Expressionism would herald a new way of painting in the 1950s, and this work was one of the movement's most powerful examples. Jackson Pollock redefined painting by laying his canvas on the floor and allowing his actions to dictate his composition. Paint is poured and dripped across the vast field of canvas, an extension of the artist's physical movement and emotional intensity.

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