Visiting Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion? You must join the virtual exhibition queue when you arrive. If capacity has been reached for the day, the queue will close early.

Learn more

In Challenging Times, The Met Offers Inspiration and Engagement

Max Hollein
April 1, 2020
An opera is performed in the American Wing court

On Friday, April 3, 2020 at 7 PM, watch the world premiere screening of the MetLiveArts production of "The Mother of Us All," the iconic American opera performed at The Met earlier this year. Photo by Stephanie Berger

As we experience this most challenging and uncertain time, The Met community and I have been thinking about how we can contribute to the effort to slow this pandemic, as well as offer something to ease the distress we are all suffering. Here at the Museum, our priority is the safety of our staff and visitors, which meant our first step was to be proactive and closing the buildings temporarily. Today a core group of essential staff protects the collection and maintains the buildings' infrastructure. Our focus is on supporting The Met's outstanding staff and providing the resources they need to pursue their work as comfortably as possible at home.

Our next step is to think about what we offer to people around the world who are adapting to less physical interaction and greater social distance. The Met's mission is to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas. We're especially committed to this effort now, because we strongly believe that art can bring people together—even remotely.

Art helps us share our stories and our reflections on the world around us. Art has the power to engage our minds, to provide comfort and respite, to feed our spirits, and to strengthen our resolve. It also can help us understand our current moment in time through the lens of history. In art we can see societies transformed by world events, and how humanity has persevered. These manifestations of hope and inspiration are especially powerful today.

Immediately after closing our galleries, we turned to our rich online resources. Today you'll see the Museum's homepage now serves as a menu of the engaging and varied digital offerings that The Met has produced for many years. From activities for families and resources for educators, video tours through the Museum with staff and contemporary artists, and 360-degree videos of prominent spaces, there truly is something for everyone. We are also sharing our thoughtful programs on social media with the hashtag #MetAnywhere. In fact, we're sharing more than ever, offering fun collective activities like #TuesdayTrivia and #MetSketch, along with moments of calm and new ways to interact with the Museum.

The responses we've received from you have been deeply moving and encouraging. People are engaging with The Met online now more than ever. You've shared with us the ways in which art and creativity have brought people together, fostered understanding and compassion, and enlightened your lives, even in the most difficult times. One follower on Twitter shared, "Thank you for continuing to share beautiful pieces of art during this period of isolation and anxiety ❤️ art has an incredible power to unite and offer peace during times of chaos. This is beautiful."

In fact, we're developing new programs now, including virtual storytime (which we'll host every week), live-streamed performances, online film screenings, and curatorial talks offered from home. On social media, we're offering #CuratorChat, an invitation for followers to submit questions on particular topics; #AllByYourShelf, which highlights a different book that you can read online; and much more. In this way, we're keeping up our passion for learning, sharing, and enjoying art. And in doing so, we're evermore connected across the world and inspired to do much more.

A stack of fabric on a table in a scientific lab

Stacks of fabric and materials are organized for Met staff to make masks.
Fabric is folded into the shape of a surgical mask

Fabric is folded according to a template for a surgical mask.

I also want to share news of another offer generated from The Met's community—something that beautifully reflects the vision and generosity that propels our Museum. Our conservationcuratorial, and other departments, working from home, catalogued all of the personal protective equipment (PPE) stored in the Museum's labs and work areas. We are donating this equipment to the doctors and nurses in New York City who are working tirelessly to save lives. A small team spent a day gathering the materials, and earlier this week, boxes of gloves, Tyvek suits and aprons, surgical booties, goggles, and N95 face masks were distributed around the city to the medical centers most in need. In parallel, our team of textile conservators and specialists—many of whom are, not surprisingly, highly skilled with a needle and thread—gathered fabric and other materials from their lab, which they're using to produce masks for health workers.

Museums are instrumental in preserving local and international cultures, helping us interpret the many worlds we live in, and convening diverse communities. We hope that you are as heartened as we are by these moments and tributes. And when we are able to open again, we will have a lot for you to discover, experience, and appreciate—our galleries, collections, special exhibitions, and the flowers in the Great Hall will be waiting for you.

Max Hollein standing on the steps outside The Met

Max Hollein

Max Hollein is the Marina Kellen French Director and Chief Executive Officer of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.