Press release

Vermeer's The Milkmaid on View in the United States for First Time in 70 Years in New Exhibition at Metropolitan Museum

Exhibition Dates: September 10, 2009 – November 29, 2009
Exhibition Location: Special Exhibition Galleries, 1st floor
Press Preview: Tuesday, September 8, 10:00 a.m. –noon

On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's historic voyage from the Netherlands to New York, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has sent The Milkmaid, perhaps the most admired painting by the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer (1632—1675), to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. To celebrate this extraordinary loan, the Metropolitan Museum presents Vermeer's Masterpiece The Milkmaid, a special exhibition beginning September 10, which also includes all five paintings by Vermeer from its collection, as well as a select group of works by other Dutch artists, placing Vermeer's superb picture in its historical context. The exhibition marks the first time that the painting has traveled to the United States since it was exhibited at the 1939 World's Fair.

The exhibition is made possible by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, Daphne Recanati Kaplan and Thomas S. Kaplan, and Bernard and Louise Palitz.

Along with Rembrandt and Frans Hals, Vermeer is now counted as one of the greatest Dutch artists of the Golden Age. Until a century ago, however, his rare paintings – only 36 survive today – were little known and often misattributed. During his brief career, Vermeer sold his exquisite works to a small circle of discerning collectors in his native Delft, and in the neighboring court city of The Hague. The Milkmaid, dating from about 1657-58, was one of the first paintings by Vermeer to be purchased by the Delft collector Pieter van Ruijven, who by 1670 owned 21 of the artist's works.

In addition to the Metropolitan Museum's five Vermeer paintings – Young Woman with a Water Pitcher (ca. 1662), A Maid Asleep (ca. 1656–57), Study of a Young Woman (probably ca. 1665–67), Woman with a Lute (ca. 1662–1663), and Allegory of the Catholic Faith (ca. 1670) – this focused presentation includes important works by Pieter de Hooch, Gabriël Metsu, Nicolaes Maes, Emanuel de Witte, and Gerard ter Borch, all masters who, like Vermeer, were active during the remarkable period of exploration, trade, and artistic flowering that occurred during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century. Vermeer's Masterpiece The Milkmaid also features several works on paper that illuminate the artist's theme, including engravings by Lucas van Leyden (The Milkmaid, 1510) and Jacques de Gheyn II (The Archer and the Milkmaid, ca. 1610), both from the Metropolitan Museum's collection, and Jacob Backer's beautiful drawing A Woman with a Jug (ca. 1645), on loan from the Maida and George Abrams Collection.

Exhibition Credits and Publication
Vermeer's Masterpiece The Milkmaid
is organized by Walter Liedtke, Curator in the Metropolitan Museum's Department of European Paintings. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication "The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer" by Walter Liedtke and will be for sale in the Museum's bookshops ($9.95).

Education Programs
A variety of educational programs will accompany the exhibition, including "Vermeer: Art in the Making," a November 6 panel discussion in which Curator Walter Liedtke and Conservator Dorothy Mahon of the Metropolitan Museum will join curator Arthur Wheelock and research conservator Melanie Gifford from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, to discuss Vermeer's style and techniques. Additional programs include screenings of documentary films about the artist, slide orientation lectures, a webinar for educators, and family orientations.

Audio Guide and Podcasts
Before coming to the museum, visitors will be able to download the complete audio tour of the exhibition from onto their own MP3 players, at no charge, for use in the galleries. The Audio Guide is narrated by Museum Director Thomas P. Campbell with commentary by Walter Liedtke and Dorothy Mahon. The Audio Guide will also be available for rental at the Museum ($7, $6, for members, and $5 for children under 12).

The Audio Guide is sponsored by Bloomberg.

Two exhibition-related audio podcast episodes are also available in the Met Podcast series at They are: a 19-minute program narrated by Walter Liedtke on the unique patronage of Johannes Vermeer and its influence on the artistic and psychological aesthetic of The Milkmaid and other works by the artist; and a TweenCast (for ages 10-12) based on a painting in the exhibition, Nicolaes Maes' Young Woman Peeling Apples, that imagines the life of a young maid in 17th-century Holland.

The exhibition and its related programs will be featured on the Museum's website at

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During the period of the exhibition, a special $24.00 prix– fixe menu will be available in the Petrie Court Café September 10-20 as part of Taste Nieuw Amsterdam restaurant week and the NY400 celebration of Henry Hudson's voyage.


September 8, 2009




Vermeer's Masterpiece The Milkmaid: Discreet Object of Desire Walter Liedtke, curator, Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art The curator and organizer of the exhibition discusses the painting's place in Vermeer's early work and its subject's surprising significance.
Saturday, September 26, 6:00: $23
The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium

For subscription program tickets call (212) 570-3949, Monday–Saturday, 9:30–5:00, and Sunday, 12:00–5:00. You may also visit the Concerts & Lectures box office in the Museum's Great Hall, Tuesday–Saturday, 10:00–5:00, and Sunday, 12:00–5:00, or go to

This lecture is supported by The Giorgio S. Sacerdote Fund.


Vermeer: Art in the Making
Curators and conservators discuss Vermeer's style and techniques, clarifying how the celebrated master actually made his exquisite works of art. Participants include Arthur K. Wheelock, Jr., curator of Northern Baroque Painting, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; E. Melanie Gifford, research conservator, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Walter Liedtke, curator, Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; and Dorothy Mahon, conservator, Department of Paintings Conservation, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Friday, November 6, 6:00
Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall, Uris Center for Education

This program is made possible by the Charles Bloom Foundation.

Programs are free with Museum admission contribution unless otherwise noted.


Slide orientation talks take place in the Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall,
Uris Center for Education.

Thursday, September 17, 11:00
Tuesday, September 22, 11:00
Thursday, October 1, 11:00
Friday, October 9, 11:00
Tuesday, October 13, 10:00
Thursday, October 22, 11:00
Wednesday, October 28, 11:00
Wednesday, November 4, 10:00
Friday, November 13, 11:00
Friday, November 20, 11:00


The Audio Guide is narrated by Museum Director Thomas P. Campbell, with commentary from exhibition curator Walter Liedtke and conservator Dorothy Mahon. The tour discusses many of the themes in Vermeer's work, reveals the latest conservation efforts, and explains what makes this artist so unique.

The Museum is pleased to offer this tour as a free download for use on your own MP3 device. Before your visit, download the tour for use in the galleries:

The Audio Guide is also available for daily rental at the Museum: $7.00 for the general public; $6.00 for Museum Members; $6.00 for groups of 14 or fewer; $5.00 for children under 12; $4.00 for groups of 15 or more.


Vermeer's Masterpiece The Milkmaid
Exhibition curator Walter Liedtke discusses the unique patronage of Johannes Vermeer and its influence on the artistic and psychological aesthetic of The Milkmaid and other works by the artist.

Met Tweencast: Nicolaes Maes, Young Woman Peeling Apples
This podcast, designed especially for young audiences ages 10–12, explores the world of mid-seventeenth-century Holland through close observation of a painting by Nicolaes Maes, one of the works on view in the exhibition.


Vermeer: Master of Light (2001), Joseph Krakora, director. Examines Vermeer's technique through X-ray analysis, infrared reflectography, and computer analysis of his paintings (55 min.).
Thursday, September 24, 2:00
Tuesday, October 20, 2:00
Tuesday, November 10, 2:00
Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall, Uris Center for Education

New York: The Country and the City (1609–1825) (1999), Ric Burns, director. Chronicles New York's beginnings, from its earliest days as a Dutch trading post to the construction of the Erie Canal (120 min.).
Tuesday, October 6, 2:00
Thursday, November 12, 2:00
Bonnie J. Sacerdote Lecture Hall, Uris Center for Education


Webinar for Educators: Johannes Vermeer
Discover one of the artist's most celebrated paintings, The Milkmaid, from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and consider it in relation to the Met's extraordinary Vermeer collection. While examining the detail and beauty of the works, participants discuss the context of the time in which the art was made, an age of exploration, travel, and trade. This 75-minute session includes a range of activities that may be adapted for students. All participants receive digital classroom resource materials, as well as a recording of the session, which they may view at any time or use with students. Participants must have access to a computer with high-speed Internet access. A headset with a built-in microphone is recommended for full participation. Instructors: Inés Powell and Teresa Russo
Tuesday, October 13, 6:00–7:15 (ET)
Fee: $10

For information and to register, go to, call (212) 570-3985, or email


Find Yourself at the Met: Vermeer (Ages 15–18)
Join other teens for a gallery conversation in the permanent collection of Dutch art and an opportunity to explore the exhibition. To register, call (212) 650-2832 or email
Instructor: Randolph Williams
Saturday, October 17, 2:00–4:00


Family Orientations—Vermeer's Masterpiece The Milkmaid
Designed for young visitors and their adult companions, these engaging slide introductions to the special exhibition are followed by lively discussion in the galleries.
Sunday, October 4, 11, 18, and 25, 1:30–2:30 and 3:00–4:00
North Classroom, Uris Center for Education


The Museum is committed to serving all audiences. Please call (212) 650-2010 or email about programs and services, including Sign Language–interpreted programs, Verbal Imaging Tours, the Touch Collection, and other programs.

Audio Guide
The Audio Guide is free to visitors who are blind, partially sighted, or hard of hearing. Audio Guide players have volume controls and headsets. Neck loops for hearing aids with T-switches are available upon request. Regular and large-print Audio Guide scripts are also available upon request.


Nolen Library has information about the Museum's collection and special exhibitions, and a Teacher Resource Center with a circulating collection for educators. There is also a Children's Reading Room, a specially designed space for families to read together from books in the library's collection. For further information please call (212) 570-3788.


Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History,, is a chronological, geographical, and thematic exploration of the history of art from around the world, illustrated with over 5,000 works of art from the Metropolitan Museum's collection. To explore the art of Johannes Vermeer on the Timeline, select "The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer" from the "Thematic Essays" menu at

For further information about our programs, visit the Museum's website at

Vermeer's Masterpiece The Milkmaid
The exhibition is made possible by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation, Daphne Recanati Kaplan and Thomas S. Kaplan, and Bernard and Louise Palitz.

We are grateful to the following for their support of educational programs:
The Audio Guide is sponsored by Bloomberg.

Family Programs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art are supported by:
the Uris Brothers Foundation Endowment; the Pat and John Rosenwald Fund;
Mr. and Mrs. Marvin H. Schein; The Aronson Family Foundation; and Epstein Teicher Philanthropies.

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