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Now at the Met

Nine "Secrets" about the History of the Met's Department of Asian Art

Mike Hearn, Douglas Dillon Chairman of the Department of Asian Art

Posted: Friday, February 20, 2015

In preparing a history of the Museum's Department of Asian Art, which this year celebrates its centennial by showcasing its unparalleled collection through a range of exhibitions, gallery talks, and other offerings, I have uncovered a number of little-known facts and many "secrets" that are not widely known to the public. Here are nine of the most fascinating.

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The Met's Joint Mission to Malqata

Catharine H. Roehrig, Curator, Department of Egyptian Art

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The remains of the festival city of Malqata are located on the west bank of the Nile, about 430 miles south of Cairo, opposite the modern city of Luxor (usually referred to by Egyptologists as Thebes). The festival city dates to the time of the pharaoh Amenhotep III, who reigned during the second half of Dynasty 18, during Egypt's New Kingdom. This pharaoh was the father of Akhenaten, and very likely the grandfather of Tutankhamun.

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The Mummy of Nesmin: A Closer Look

Isabel Stünkel, Associate Curator, Department of Egyptian Art; and Sarah Nankivell, 2014 Intern, Department of Egyptian Art and Digital Media Department

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2015

For several years The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been collaborating with the NYU Langone Medical Center Department of Radiology, using computed tomography (CT) to scan objects in the Museum's collection for research purposes.

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Guns, Paper, and Stains: Preserving History through Interdepartmental Collaboration

Angela Campbell, Assistant Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2015

Included in the Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions 2003–2014 exhibition, curated by Donald J. La Rocca and currently on display in the galleries of the Department of Arms and Armor though December 6, are several printed designs associated with ornamental firearms. Upon acquisition, two of these prints—the decorative title page from the album Plvsievrs Pieces et Ornements Darquebuzerie, acquired in 2011, and a design for the stock of a musket from the Nouveavx Desseins D'Arquebvseries, acquired in 2013—appeared similarly stained and damaged, but underwent distinctly different conservation campaigns. The two prints, as well as all of the other works on paper currently on display, will be on view through March 2015, due to their preservation needs.

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Using Color to Link Cultures: An Eighteenth-Century Islamic Tile in Context

Fatima Quraishi, 2014–15 Hagop Kevorkian Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Department of Islamic Art has over three thousand ceramic objects in its collection, with perhaps the largest corpus of the collection acquired from the Museum's excavations in Nishapur, Iran, during the mid-twentieth century. While the department maintains a fine collection of Safavid and Ottoman ceramics, ceramic work from south Asia is not as well represented. Among these examples of south Asian ceramics, my favorite is an eighteenth-century tile from Multan, in present-day Pakistan (pictured above). In terms of both material and technique, the tile is typical of ceramics from this part of south Asia, as are three similar objects in the collection—an eighteenth-century dish and two late fifteenth-century tiles (2008.461 and 2008.462).

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Back in Print—High Style: Masterworks from the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Monday, February 9, 2015

The perfect Valentine's Day gift for the fashion lover, High Style is now back in print as a paperback, with an updated cover that features the stunning "Clover Leaf" gown by Charles James. This lavishly illustrated volume presents some two hundred examples drawn from more than twenty-four thousand garments, accessories, hats, and shoes in the Brooklyn Museum's collection (which was transferred to the Met in 2009). A wide-ranging book covering garments from the eighteenth through the twentieth century, High Style provides a perfect introduction to the history of fashion.

In honor of Valentine's Day, read further to learn more about seven romantically hued ensembles featured in this publication.

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Andrew Bolton Wins 2015 Vilcek Prize in Fashion

Nancy Chilton, Chief Communications Officer for The Costume Institute

Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015

Andrew Bolton, curator in The Costume Institute, was chosen as the winner of the Vilcek Prize in Fashion for his curatorial work that elevates fashion as an art form. The prize is part of the 2015 Vilcek Prize and Creative Promise Prizes in the Arts, which are awarded in the field of fashion, and spotlight foreign-born artists with records of major achievement in their fields.

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Diamond in the Rust: Conserving a Damascened Tibetan Knife

Marlene April Yandrisevits, Former Graduate Intern, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, February 6, 2015

Looking closely at historical artifacts is one of the chief privileges and joys of being an art conservator, and I am thrilled to share with you a close look at one of the extraordinary objects currently on view in the exhibition Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas. While this ritual blade is immediately striking in its sinuous form and elaborate decoration, closer examination reveals an inspiring display of technical skill and master artistry.

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Walter Liedtke, Our Friend and Distinguished Colleague (1945–2015)

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO

Posted: Thursday, February 5, 2015

The news that Walter Liedtke was among the victims of the Metro-North train crash on Tuesday night sent shock waves through the Museum. We had all heard about the accident, some considered for a moment who they knew who took that route, but then life continued. The revelation the next morning that among the five people in that first train car was one of our own curators suddenly made the world feel impossibly small. For 35 years, Walter had come and gone from the Met every day, and now that would never happen again.

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Surface, Depth, and Description in Le Brun's Portrait of Everhard Jabach and His Family

Keith Christiansen, John Pope-Hennessy Chairman, Department of European Paintings

Posted: Wednesday, February 4, 2015

We sometimes imagine that no one before the twentieth century thought of a painting in terms of line and color and the play between surface and depth—that before the advent of Cubism, painting was a matter of mere description. Wrong.

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Ragas in Review: An Evening of North Indian Music

Julia Rooney, Administrative Assistant, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Moroccan Court Music Series, which began in April 2014, saw its last performance of the year on November 21, with a program of Hindustani music. Planned to coincide with the recently closed exhibition Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani Collection, the evening featured Neel Murgai on sitar and Shivalik Ghoshal on tabla, playing a program of north Indian ragas.

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An American Voyage for French Tapestries

James Moske, Managing Archivist, Museum Archives

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015

During several visits to the recent exhibition Grand Design: Pieter Coecke van Aelst and Renaissance Tapestry, I marveled at how the artist's inventive compositions guided my eyes through the dramatic, active scenes these artworks portray. The many fantastic details which augment each narrative rewarded repeated viewing and inspired a sense of awe for the unity of effort required to plan and create such massive, intricate images. At times I felt a bit overwhelmed by the immensity of the tapestries—all but one of them loaned from European museums and private collections—and wondered about the tremendous physical labor it must have taken to bring them to New York and install them here at the Metropolitan Museum.

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The Kunstkammer Has Been Crowned

Sally Metzler, Guest Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015

In my December 30 post "Crown the Kunstkammer!" I challenged readers to suggest objects that would make worthy additions to the Kunstkammer, or chamber of wonders, in the exhibition Bartholomeus Spranger: Splendor and Eroticism in Imperial Prague. Cheers to all who participated! Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, Spranger's patron and the founder of the Prague Kunstkammer, would have found these additions tantalizing. I thank you for the stimulating ideas you contributed both in the comments on the post and on Facebook, and would like to highlight a few of my favorite submissions.

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Understanding and Sustaining Cultures: The Conservation of Nepalese Jewelry

Nina Pascucci, Former College Intern, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015

I've always been drawn to the role that art and artifacts play in shaping our collective history and culture. As a college intern in the Department of Objects Conservation here at the Met, I recently had the unique opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with beautiful jewelry from Nepal while assisting with the preparation for the exhibition Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas.

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Jewelry and Power: Notes from a Friday Focus Lecture

Helen D. Goldenberg, Associate for Administration, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On Friday, January 9, the Department of Islamic Art, in conjunction with the Education Department, hosted guest lecturer Michael Spink to speak at a Friday Focus event. Spink's lecture, Jewelry and Power: Gold and Gems in Mughal India, illuminated the history of jewelry in the Mughal Empire and gave background information on the breathtaking gems that were displayed in the recently closed exhibition Treasures from India: Jewels from the Al-Thani Collection.

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The Jabach Portrait: The First Varnish

Michael Gallagher, Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge, Department of Paintings Conservation

Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Michael Gallagher applies the first layer of varnish to the surface of the Jabach portrait.

After the completion of cleaning and structural work on the Jabach portrait, the next step in its conservation is the application of a first layer of varnish. The varnish acts as an isolating layer between the original painting and the retouching—which will come later—but, most importantly, it begins the process of saturating the surface, which is so crucial to a painting of this period.

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Creating Contrast through Elaborate Details: Technical Analysis and Conservation of an Avalokitesvara

Mandira Chhabra, Assistant Conservator, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai, India; Daniel Hausdorf, Associate Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation; and Pascale Patris, Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015

This beautiful image of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara holds a lotus as his principal attribute (fig. 1). On view in the exhibition Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas, the gilded figure and its lotus-inspired pedestal are made of a single block of sandalwood, a wood species that holds spiritual meaning throughout Asia. The exceptional carving found here is a rare surviving example of a Nepalese tradition with a long history, one which ultimately can be traced back to India.

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The Jabach Portrait: Back on Its Feet

Michael Gallagher, Sherman Fairchild Conservator in Charge, Department of Paintings Conservation

Posted: Friday, January 23, 2015

Conservators Michael Gallagher, George Bisacca, Alan Miller, and Jonathan Graindorge Lamour reattach the Jabach portrait to its stretcher in preparation for the final phases of conservation.

Just before the holidays, we reached a major milestone in the conservation of the Jabach portrait: the reattachment of the canvas to its stretcher. The short video above gives a good sense of the process undertaken with George Bisacca, Alan Miller, and Jonathan Graindorge Lamour. In all, it took about a couple of hours.

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Rites of Passage in the Indian Jewelry Tradition

Courtney A. Stewart, Senior Research Assistant, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In this painting, the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan sits with his young son Dara Shikoh, holding a red gem in his right hand and a small tray of colored gems in his left. This intergenerational portrait illustrates the important Indian tradition of transferring gems among family members. Jewels are among the most important possessions in an estate and, when inherited, they are usually remounted or set by the recipient.

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Beneath the Surface: Technical Analysis of a Vajrabhairava Figurine

Mandira Chhabra, Assistant Conservator, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Mumbai, India; Daniel Hausdorf, Associate Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation; and Pascale Patris, Conservator, Department of Objects Conservation

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2015

A gift to the Museum in 1949, this image of Vajrabhairava was not placed on display for many years (fig. 1). In conjunction with the work's display in the Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas exhibition, however, the Departments of Objects Conservation and Scientific Research examined this figure in order to shed light on the materials and the production technique of this unusual representation.

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Now at the Met offers in-depth articles and multimedia features about the Museum's current exhibitions, events, research, announcements, behind-the-scenes activities, and more.