Collecting is the lifeblood of the Metropolitan. From its myriad collections, spanning five thousand years and illustrating most of the known civilizations of history, spring all the significant functions of the Museum: education, communication, scholarship, preservation, and exhibition. Curiously enough, the mission of collecting has not up to now been explained to our public in all its complexities; this is the principal purpose of the exhibition Patterns of Collecting. Through it, Olga Raggio, Chairman of Western European Arts and the organizer of the show, has indicated why we collect specific works of art and how they came into the collections. The exhibition, and the present catalogue, are tributes to the extraordinary connoisseurship of the curatorial staff—their acumen, sensitivity, knowledge, and courage.