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Director's Selections in Six Languages to Launch New Programming

(New York City, May 24, 1999)—In a major initiative to promote tourism through technology — and enhance the museum experience for local visitors, both English- and foreign-language-speaking — an all-new state-of-the-art audio guide becomes available this spring for visitors to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Key to the Met Audio Guide provides random-access commentary on both special exhibitions and the permanent collection — all on one CD player. For the first time, a "Director's Selections" tour of the permanent collection by Metropolitan Museum Director Philippe de Montebello will be offered in six languages, five of them narrated by Mr. de Montebello himself.

In addition, Key to the Met Audio Guide now explores the Museum's acclaimed new Greek Galleries, the galleries for musical instruments, and three current special exhibitions. New commentary will be added on an ongoing basis, so that repeat visits to the Museum will be rewarded with additional audio programming on new exhibitions and also on the permanent collection.

Key to the Met Audio Guide, produced in association with Antenna Audio, Inc., uses advanced CD-ROM technology, enabling visitors to experience the Metropolitan's works of art in any order they choose. Each light-weight, compact player contains all available programming on one disk and is rented for a single, daily rental fee.

Key to the Met Audio Guide is sponsored by Bloomberg News.

In announcing the new audio guide at a press conference at the Metropolitan Museum today, Mr. de Montebello said: "This style of audio exploration of the Metropolitan Museum will greatly enhance the visitor's freedom to experience as much of the Museum as he or she wants — in any order and for any length of time. The new technology also provides the Museum with the flexibility to change, update, and expand content, so that visitors — of all ages and from all over the world — have more to discover each time they visit the Metropolitan."

Michael R. Bloomberg, CEO and Founder of Bloomberg News, said: "We are proud to sponsor The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Key to the Met Audio Guide. This program will enable visitors to unlock the magic and mysteries of the Metropolitan Museum's renowned collection of masterpieces in an innovative and exciting manner. Our company is always seeking new ways to bring information to audiences, and depends upon the latest in technology to accomplish this goal. Key to the Met Audio Guide is a brilliant achievement in this regard, and a treasure that will engage both first-time and regular visitors' interest for countless years to come."

Joining Mr. de Montebello at today's press conference was Fran Reiter, President & CEO of NYC & Company (which embraces the New York Convention & Visitors Bureau), who commented: "With our tremendous vitality and world-class cultural offerings, New York City is the most popular U.S. destination for overseas visitors. Our mission in the city's travel industry — in which The Metropolitan Museum of Art plays an enormous role — is to make sure New York continues to experience its record popularity among visitors.

"The Metropolitan Museum's new multi-language audio guides are a terrific way to make the visitor's experience to our city more enjoyable and enriching," she continued. We applaud the innovative thinking of both the Metropolitan Museum and Bloomberg News on this collaboration."

"The Director's Selections" will be offered initially in English, French, and Japanese beginning May 25, featuring 58 masterpieces of the Museum, from every part of the collection. The tour will also become available by the fall in Italian, German, and Spanish. Narration for all of the languages except Japanese will be by Philippe de Montebello.

Other Key to the Met Audio Guide programming currently available includes, for the permanent collection: the new Greek Galleries, the newly renovated and reinstalled galleries for Archaic and Classical Greek art; and Musical Instruments, a tour of the Metropolitan Museum's extensive collection of Western and non-Western instruments, with performance excerpts of the instruments described.

New offerings for special exhibitions include Cézanne to Van Gogh: The Collection of Doctor Gachet (May 25 through August 15, 1999) and Gustave Moreau: Between Epic and Dream (June 1 through August 22, 1999). Picasso: Painter and Sculptor in Clay will continue through June 6.

Special exhibition audio guides to follow over the next few months include: Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids, part of the Museum's soon-to-be-announced "Egypt 2000" celebration (September 16, 1999, through January 9, 2000); and Portraits by Ingres: Image of an Epoch (October 5, 1999, through January 2, 2000). New commentary on the permanent collection will include a tour of the Museum's collection of ancient Egyptian art.

The random-access feature of the new programming allows visitors to hear a message — a comment from Mr. de Montebello, a curator, or scholar, or some music or other sound element — whenever they see a Key to the Met Audio Guide symbol, accompanied by a number, next to a work of art. The narration begins when the visitor enters the number and presses the "Play" button. The audio guide also incorporates messages providing narrative overviews and descriptions of entire galleries, as well as general information about educational programs, special events, the restaurants, and the Museum's shops.

The daily rental fee for Key to the Met Audio Guides is $5 for the general public and $4.50 for Museum members. Distribution booths are located in the Great Hall and at the entrances to special exhibitions.

Antenna Audio, an award-winning company that uses innovative audio production techniques and technologies to create interactive education programs, has provided tour services for museums, national parks, and historic sites around the world.

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May 24, 1999

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