NYC Explorer: Fun Facts about The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Located on the edge of Central Park in Manhattan’s Upper East Side, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met for short), is one of th epremier art institutions in the world.

Writing a travel series about The Met is a bit daunting because it is so vast, including more than 5000 years of art history. The Met’s colleciton includes some of the most significant works of art in history – all in this AMAZING museum.

I’m starting off our journey to The Met with fun facts to introduce you to the wonders of The Met…

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by business leaders, financiers, arts and cultural enthusiasts to bring ART and culture to New York
  • The original MET was located in a much smaller space on 681 Fifth Avenue
  • The initial collection included around 200 European paintings and a Roman sarcophagus that is still on view today. The collection was also briefly housed in The Douglas Mansion
  • The Met outgrew its space and in 1880 moved into its location at 1000 Fifth Avenue.
    • The 1880 structure was designed by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould in the Rustinian Gothic Structure.
    • You can still see the original 1880 brick facade in The Robert Lehman Wing
  • The Met continued to expand and grow. The famed Beaux Arts Fifth Avenue architecture we see today was designed by Robert Morris Hunt (the architect behind Biltmore – another American Nomad favorite)
  • The museum has continued to expand and is currently undergoing a large renovation. (The Renaissance collection, sadly was closed when I visited in February 2023)
    • Click here for a little more Met architectural history
  • At 2.2 million square feet in size, The Met is the fourth largest art museum in the world and largest in the United States
  • It includes over 2 million works in its permanent collection
  • The museum has 17 curatorial departments (and counting)
  • The collection crosses over 5,000 years of history
  • The Met is home to the largest collection of Egyptian art outside of Egypt! You can even step inside an Egyptian Temple (Denkur)
  • Home to the world’s oldest piano…The piano dates to 1720 and was designed by Bartolomeo Cristofori
  • 2500 pieces of European Art including works by masters like:
    • Duccio
    • Botticelli
    • Raphael
    • Vermeer
    • Turner
    • Manet
    • Monet
    • Van Gogh
    • Cezanne
    • Picasso and more!!!
  • Purchased their first Renoir in 1907
  • The MET was the first museum in the world to purchase an Henri Matisse in 1910
  • The Duccio is the most expensive Met purchase to date (2023) (We encountered a Duccio at The Frick too!)
  • Selected works not currently on display can still be seen (under glass) in the Luce Gallery – an often overlooked but must-see spot in the museum.
  • The MET owns five of the remaining 34 confirmed Vermeer’s left in the world.

The MET’s Cloister’s Museum at Fort Tyron in Washington Heights, Manhattan…feels as though you’ve traveled to Medieval Europe and includes an impressive Gothic collection of art housed in Cloisters. Learn more here

One of the most photographed works at The MET is Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze. It astounds in size and emotion…Not to be missed in the American Wing.

Stay tuned to American Nomad blog as we dive deeper into The Met collection in the coming weeks.

To plan your own tour to The MET visit their website to purchase timed tickets and learn more about exhibits and special events.

  • The Met does occasionally offer curator led tours. You can also look at Viator and other certified partners to schedule a tour with a licensed tour company. For me, I like to take my time and go at my own pace…but in The MET having a guide can be useful so you don’t feel overwhelmed and still get the depth you need to understand and fully experience the art.

If there is a specific painting you want to see, I recommend checking with the museum in advance to find out if it is on display and which gallery.

No matter what you cannot leave disappointed – The MET is an awe inspiring experience for everyone who passes through it’s doors.

P.S. They do have a handicap entrance if you can’t scale the large staircase at the main entrance.

Until next time…don’t forget to subscribe for updates below. Also please comment to share your thoughts!

Purpose of American Nomad: To share my love of travel, history and museums with others. Follow American Nomad on facebook here.

About: American Nomad is written by Adele Lassiter, a travel enthusiast with a background in history, art and technology sales. In addition to running American Nomad, Adele is an artist and published author of cozy romances. Check out her cozy romance novel, Solitude Lake on Amazon (Adele Darcy)

I’ll be launching my travel podcast (and art podcast) soon!

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