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Fun Facts: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide

Nadja Hansen, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Museum's new Guide highlights special works from each of our seventeen curatorial departments. Coming in at four hundred fifty-six pages and featuring almost six hundred works of art, it is the first new Guide to be published about the Museum in twenty-nine years. While reviewing the new publication, I discovered a few fun facts about the works of art from around the globe and across the centuries featured in its pages.

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The Cloisters in Popular Culture:
"Time in This Place Does Not Obey an Order"

Michael Carter, Librarian, The Cloisters museum and gardens

Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013

For the past seventy-five years, The Cloisters has provided visitors with more than just a chance to view an exceptional collection of medieval art and architecture. In tourist guides and travel reviews, a trip to The Cloisters is commonly described as a way to be transported to the Middle Ages or—for locals seeking a "staycation"—a chance to get out of New York without leaving the city. The powerful effect of the place has clearly been noticed by screenwriters, novelists, and even comicbook authors, who have set a fair number of fictional works here over the years.

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Cyrus and the Judean Diaspora

Ira Spar, Research Assyriologist, Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art

Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013

Toward the end of the first century a.d. Jerusalem lay in ruins, the second temple built by Herod the Great (74/73–4 b.c.) destroyed and ransacked by the Roman army. Meanwhile, in Babylon, scribes continued to copy ancient texts, inscribing some of them on cuneiform tablets made of clay. After the last cuneiform scribe passed to his fate, no one remained who could read or write documents in Babylonian, Assyrian, or Sumerian. In 1893, pioneer archaeologists and explorers digging in Iraq began to uncover vast archives of cuneiform tablets that had been buried for two thousand years. Today, philologists, archaeologists, and historians are able to combine narratives previously known only from the Bible with information gleaned from thousands of historic, literary, religious, and scientific texts, illuminating the world of Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and Cyrus. The Cyrus Cylinder, now on view at the Met, helps us understand the peoples and policies of the ancient Near East.

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Travel with the Met: Russian Impressions

Vanessa Hagerbaumer, Senior Special Events Officer

Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013

I'm back in New York, and I've had a chance to reflect on my first Travel with the Met experience. The trip was truly unforgettable, thanks in part to the hospitality and humor of our Russian hosts and the stoic pride they take in their country.

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Living in Style: Five Centuries of Interior Design from the Collection of Drawings and Prints

Femke Speelberg, Assistant Curator, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Monday, July 1, 2013

Now on view (through September 8), the exhibition Living in Style brings together drawings, prints, books, and pieces of furniture from the Museum's collections to illustrate five centuries of interior design, from the Renaissance period through the 1960s. Following a chronological path of development, the show traces changes and continuities in the approach to materials, shapes, colors, and decorations as displayed by the works on paper.

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Renovating The Cloisters: Maintaining the Vision

Peter Barnet, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013

"Creating the Cloisters," the spring issue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin written by curator Timothy B. Husband, is an engaging and nuanced narrative of the early history of The Cloisters. As a complement to that narrative, I'd like to review the more recent gallery renovations and reinstallations that have been undertaken, all guided by the principle of maintaining the integrity of the original architectural vision of The Cloisters.

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Travel with the Met: Wooden Architecture and Mysticism on Kizhi Island

Vanessa Hagerbaumer, Senior Special Events Officer

Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our local guide explained that the first settlers to the Kizhi Island area in the sixteenth century practiced two religions simultaneously: Russian Orthodox Christianity and pre-Christian pagan mysticism.

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New Labels for European Paintings Galleries

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

Posted: Wednesday, June 26, 2013

As part of the installation of the New European Paintings Galleries last month, all of the wall labels were rewritten to reflect recent research. Each time I walked into the Rembrandt gallery (Gallery 637) during the installation, I wondered if I was seeing an art project or merely temporary storage for our new label holders.

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Travel with the Met: Yaroslavl

Vanessa Hagerbaumer, Senior Special Events Officer

Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Here the Volga River meets the Kotorosl River as seen from the bluffs of Yaroslavl, a picturesque city with a population of 640,000. Decorative plantings in the shape of a bear, the city's emblem, commemorate the 1,003rd anniversary of Yaroslav.

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The Later Legacy of Cyrus the Great

Michael Seymour, Research Associate, Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art

Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013

The Cyrus Cylinder, currently on display in the exhibition The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: Charting a New Empire (June 20–August 4, 2013), is a document of unique historical significance. It records the Persian king Cyrus' conquest of the city of Babylon in 539 b.c., and his proclamation that cults and temples should be restored, their personnel allowed to return from Babylon to their home cities.

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Sublime Embrace:
Concerts at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Aleksandr Gelfand, Former Intern, Museum Archives

Posted: Friday, June 21, 2013

Ninety-five years ago the halls of The Metropolitan Museum of Art resounded with the sounds of music, as the first public concert was held within the Museum's galleries.

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Travel with the Met: Backstage at the Bolshoi

Vanessa Hagerbaumer, Senior Special Events Officer

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013

In 1776, while America was starting a revolution, the Russians were building the Bolshoi Theater.

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The Boxer: An Ancient Masterpiece Comes to the Met

Seán Hemingway, Curator, Department of Greek and Roman Art

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013

Since its discovery on the Quirinal Hill of Rome in 1885 near the ancient Baths of Constantine, the statue Boxer at Rest—currently on view at the Met—has astonished and delighted visitors to the Museo Nazionale Romano as a captivating masterpiece of ancient bronze sculpture.

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Travel with the Met: Saint Basil's Cathedral, Moscow

Vanessa Hagerbaumer, Senior Special Events Officer

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm currently traveling as a Museum representative on a Travel with the Met cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg. One of our first stops in Moscow was Saint Basil's Cathedral. Legend has it that Ivan the Terrible ensured that nothing quite like it could be built again . . . by taking out the eyes of the chief architect.

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Gothic Altarpiece

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

Posted: Monday, June 10, 2013

Before you can put a Gothic altarpiece together, you first have to know how to take it apart. This is Giovanni di Paolo's polyptych from a church in Cortona, Italy, painted in 1454, en route to its permanent installation in Gallery 626 within the New European Paintings Galleries.

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Digitizing the Libraries' Collections: Pictorialist Photography Exhibition Catalogues, 1891–1914

Dan Lipcan, Assistant Museum Librarian, Thomas J. Watson Library; and Malcolm Daniel, Senior Curator, Department of Photographs

Posted: Friday, June 7, 2013

One of the first projects we undertook upon establishing the Thomas J. Watson Library's digitization initiative a few years ago was a collaboration with the Department of Photographs and its Joyce F. Menschel Photography Library.

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Featured Publication: German Paintings
in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1350–1600

Nadja Hansen, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department; and Hilary Becker, Administrative Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Just in time to celebrate the opening of the New European Paintings Galleries, Curator Maryan Ainsworth has coauthored a comprehensive guide to the Met's German paintings. The collection, which includes pictures made in the German-speaking lands (including Austria and Switzerland) from 1350 to 1600, constitutes the largest and most comprehensive group in an American museum today. Comprising major examples by the towering figures of the German Renaissance—Albrecht Dürer, Lucas Cranach the Elder, and Hans Holbein the Younger—and many by lesser masters, the collection has grown slowly but steadily from the first major acquisitions in 1871 to the most recent in 2011; it now numbers seventy-two works, presented here in sixty-three entries.

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Installing Tiepolo

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

Posted: Monday, June 3, 2013

How many people does it take to hang a ceiling? How many rigs? This snapshot shows The Glorification of the Barbaro Family, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo's great ceiling from Ca' Barbaro, Venice, going up in Gallery 600 during the last week of installation of the New European Paintings Galleries.

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Final Touches

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

Posted: Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The last work installed for the New European Paintings Galleries the afternoon before the opening was the famous birth salver created in 1449 for Lorenzo de' Medici (known to later generations simply as Lorenzo the Magnificent). It's in Gallery 604. To make the final meticulous retouching of the mount, the installer, Warren Bennett, had to insert his head into the case, beneath the birth tray. I was struck by the very Neapolitan baroque quality of the image of his head—as though detached, John-the-Baptist fashion, by the "blade" of the salver! I couldn't help but snap a picture. Just look at the spot of light on the cranium: pure Mattia Preti!

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Celebrating The Cloisters

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013

The Cloisters marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Since its opening on May 14, 1938, it has become a treasured landmark, celebrated for both its extraordinary setting and its world-class collection of medieval art and architecture. Located in Fort Tryon Park, a verdant oasis on the northern tip of Manhattan, the building commands sweeping views of the Hudson River and the towering Palisades on the river's opposite bank. The quiet of the lush gardens and the magnificence of the historic architecture create an ideal setting for the outstanding collection within.

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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.