The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most popular museums in the world. This New York equivalent of the Louvre or the British Museum is a must-see when visiting New York.
In this short guide, I'll give you some tips to make your visit to the MET easier, and give you an overview of everything you can discover there. Follow the guide!
The history of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art
The MET opened in 1872 under the influence of several leading figures in the United States art world, who wanted to create a museum in New York that could rival the great European museums.
Initially, the MET's exhibits were housed in the Dodsworth Dance Academy building on Fifth Avenue, but within months of its opening, due to the expansion of the collections, the museum moved to the Douglas Mansion on 14th Street.
Building on its success, the MET moved to its own premises on the east side of Central Park, where it has continued to expand and has now become one of the five largest museums in the world. The MET’s current neoclassical buildings span four floors and 280 rooms. Almost 4,000 people work in the museum, which welcomes more than 5 million visitors every year.
The best way to discover the MET 🖼️
Did you know that admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is included in various tourist passes? This is the case for the Explorer Pass New York. This tourist pass allows you to choose between 2 to 10 activities to do during your stay in the city, among a list. You can therefore choose the different activities you wish to do, according to your own wishes.
There are many advantages to this: you can personalise your choice of activities, avoid queuing at certain attractions, get a discount on entrance fees and, above all, you can be sure of being able to access the different sites that interest you.
Isn't it interesting and reassuring to have an "all in one" pass? 🙂
What works of Art await in the MET Galleries?
There are about 250,000 works of art on display at the MET all year round, plus those that can only be seen during temporary exhibitions. It is therefore absolutely impossible for me to give you a complete list of everything you can see in the museum's galleries, but I can still try to give you an idea of what to expect.
The museum's collections are divided in a total of 17 sections
- Art of Ancient Egypt
- Art of Ancient Greece and Rome
- Medieval art
- Ancient Near Eastern art
- American art from the 17th to the 20th centuries
- European Paintings (1250-1800)
- European Sculpture and Decorative Art
- Robert Lehman Collection (Renaissance and Art Deco from the 14th to the 20th centuries)
- European paintings and sculptures from the 19th and early 20th centuries
- Modern and contemporary art
- Asian art
- Islamic and Arab art
- Art of Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Greek and Roman art
- Arms and armors
- Musical instruments
- Drawings and photographs
Hard to choose among all these themes? It would actually take you several days to discover all the galleries of this museum. That's why I'm going to give you some advice to simplify your visit 🙂As mentioned above, the museum is very popular, so I invite you to take your tickets as soon as possible to be sure to enter on the day you want. All you have to do is choose the time of your choice, and everything will be ready for you to have a good time!
The MET's must-see pieces and artworks
There are, however, some collections that are not to be missed at the MET. This is particularly true of the section devoted to AnAncient Egypt, which has played a major role in making the museum world famous. There you will discover incredible finds from excavations of Egyptian tombs and temples, including mummies, sculptures and the famous AnHatshepsut Sphinx.
Works of art from all eras are on display in the MET's galleries, and you will see some of the world's most famous paintings and statues: Van Gogh's Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, Monet's Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies, or Rembrandt's Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, for example. You will also discover many other works by artists such as Cézanne, Vermeer, Manet, Renoir, Ingres, Pollock, Warhol or Pissarro.
How to organise your visit to the MET?
As soon as you enter the museum, you will see that the premises are absolutely gigantic. The museum covers an area of approximately 180,000 square metres, and the galleries that can be visited account for a third of this area. In total, the museum's collection consists of 2 million objects and works of art, of which 250,000 are on permanent display.
The first thing you should know is that you will not be able to see everything in one go. The best thing to do is to decide on the spot or in advance what interests you most, and devote a visit to a particular theme or part of the museum. To help you, getting a map of the museum on arrival will be very helpful. You can also look up the map on the Internet in advance, but it is not always easy to find a perfectly up-to-date map.
Although the building is four storeys high, the public collections are mainly grouped on two levels divided into sections. On the ground floor, you will find, for example, the collection devoted to Ancient Egypt, Mediaeval art and Modern and Contemporary art. On the upper floor, you will find Asian art, art from Arab countries and European sculptures from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Choosing the galleries you want to see in advance, and planning your route with the help of the map, can save you precious time in order to discover as many works of art as possible during your visit.
In any case, I advise you to spend at least 2.5 hours visiting the museum – if you don't want to leave with the frustrating feeling of having missed too much.
Guided tours of the MET
If you don't have a lot of time to visit the museum, and you won’t be able to come back a second or third time to complete your visit, a good solution is to opt for a guided tour.
With these professionally guided tours, you will follow a specially designed itinerary that will allow you to discover the MET's must-see galleries, while learning many anecdotes about the greatest works on display.
There are a number of different tour options, some of which allow you to focus your visit on a particular theme. The most popular is the "Best of the MET", a tour of about 2 hours, during which you can discover all the most famous works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art galleries.
Please note: guided tours aren’t organised every day. I therefore invite you to look beforehand for available dates that will coincide with your stay. And if there is a date that suits you, I recommend that you book it as soon as possible to be sure of getting a place.
The MET's Shops, CafÉs and Rooftop
In addition to all these galleries, there are also a number of food and beverage venues in the museum, with cafés, bars and restaurants, where you can take a break or have a meal.
During the summer months between May and October, it is often possible to access the Roof Garden Bar on the museum’s roof. On this panoramic terrace, you will spend a pleasant moment and enjoy an exceptional view of Central Park and of Manhattan buildings.
Rates and opening hours of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art
The MET is open every day except Wednesday and public holidays. From Sunday to Tuesday, as well as on Thursdays, you can visit the museum from 10 am to 5 pm. On Fridays and Saturdays, the doors remain open until 9 pm. It is possible to start a visit up to 30 minutes before closing time, but it is not really worth it.
For a long time, the ticket price followed the "pay as you wish" principle, but in the face of tourist abuse, a fixed price has been imposed again since March 2018, except for New York State residents and students from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
All others visitors must purchase a ticket at the standard fare:
Seniors (65 and over)
Admission is free for children under 12.
To save money on your visit to the museum and other visits while in New York, you can also benefit from attractive rates by purchasing one of the New York passes that include a ticket to the MET – such as the New York City Pass, the New York Pass, or the Explorer Pass (as mentioned above).
How to get to the MET?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located right on the edge of Central Park, at 1000 Fifth Avenue — 82nd Street. To get there, you can take the New York City Subway System on lines 4, 5, 6, B and C, and stop at either 86th St — Lexington or 81st St — Museum Of Natural History stations. These stations are not directly next to the MET, and you will have to take the bus (line M86), a taxi, or walk a good ten minutes through the Upper East Side district to reach the museum. I really recommend walking the whole way – it will make for a nice walk along Central Park and some of New York's most upscale streets and avenues!