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Crossroads Explores Cultural Connections across the Globe

A view of the Asian Art Galleries, with cases displaying objects made for transnational trade

Installation view of Crossroads: Empires and Emporia

The Met's superlative collection spans thousands of years of creativity from around the globe, with marvelous examples of art from nearly every culture and civilization. One of the greatest privileges of my role as Director is working with the Museum's outstanding team of curators, conservators, and scientists as we develop more complex understandings and new perspectives on each of these objects, their broader context, and the ways in which we can best share these ideas and discoveries with our visitors.

Currently we're thinking more and more about how we can illuminate connections embedded within the vast scope of the world's visual arts. Beyond the cross-cultural exchanges of styles, materials, and motifs evident throughout the works on view in our galleries and exhibitions, one can also see artists across time grappling with universal aspects of the human experience. Indeed, it's incredibly powerful to witness the very simple fact that the impulse to create art is universal, especially in a time of great divisiveness and polarity.

Here at The Met, it is our mission and passion to tell the multifaceted stories of these works of art, the circumstances in which they were created, and the role they play within our shared cultural history. Key to this effort is the continual reevaluation of how—and even where—art is presented in the Museum. From major reinstallations of Museum spaces, like the newly reopened British Galleries, to the recently introduced series of contemporary commissions that now activate the facade and Great Hall, The Met is constantly exploring new ways to expand the knowledge and narratives we communicate through each magnificent work of art, as well as the ways in which they relate to each other.

A view of the Medieval Sculpture Hall, with a blue plinth supporting sculptures from many different civilizations

Installation view of Crossroads: Power and Piety

A view of a blue gallery with four objects hung on the walls

Installation view of Crossroads: Mythical Beasts

In this spirit, this month we're introducing Crossroads, a new set of collection displays that examine aspects of interconnectedness through forty objects from around the world. Timed to coincide with the Museum's 150th anniversary, these focused presentations are installed at three prominent locations within The Met where major paths through the building intersect. Each grouping addresses a broad theme that appears across multiple cultures—Power and Piety, Mythical Beasts, and Empires and Emporia—and invites new lines of dialogue among works in the collection and between galleries, which are usually rather segmented. By examining two intriguing aspects of art-making that occur across time and around the world—the transmitting of ideas and motifs between societies, and the exploration of fundamental concepts by people working in distant civilizations—the installations spotlight moments of connection and exchange that interlace our collective cultural heritage.

It's been exhilarating to watch the presentations come together over the last few weeks. The monumental portrait head of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, usually a fixture of our Greek and Roman galleries, now presides over the majestic Medieval Sculpture Hall alongside, and in conversation with, the imposing depiction of a supreme Maya god of rain. Nearby, a Khmer statue projects both the spiritual and political power of a ruler. To see these and other related works that depict public displays of power and spirituality is quite the striking sight. It's captivating to discover what ties these juxtapositions together, and actually quite moving to consider art's capacity to teach us about our shared humanity and ourselves.

In bringing these works together, we can recognize the familiar in what once might have seemed strange, and see what was once well known from a new perspective. This experience speaks to the heart of The Met's mission as an encyclopedic Museum for the world, and we invite you to visit these three displays, see how objects resonate across time and across the globe, and explore the endless stories in the collection.

Related Content

Learn more about Crossroads and the first three installations: Power and Piety, Mythical Beasts, and Empires and Emporia.

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