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Special (Little) Exhibitions

Goudey Gum Company (American, Boston, Massachusetts) | Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, from the Big League Chewing Gum series (R320) for the Goudey Gum Company | Burdick 325, R320.61

Lou Gehrig, New York Yankees, from the Big League Chewing Gum series (R320) for the Goudey Gum Company, 1934. Goudey Gum Company (American, Boston, Massachusetts). Commercial lithograph; Sheet: 2 7/8 x 2 3/8 in. (7.3 x 6 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, Gift of Jefferson R. Burdick (Burdick 325, R320.61)

Have a favorite nook at the Met? A quiet space where you can truly be alone with the pieces? Whether your answer to this question is "yes" or "no," I suggest you explore the smaller special exhibitions scattered throughout the Metropolitan Museum.

I think these exhibitions are one of the best-kept secrets at the Met; the pieces are stunning to look at, and the relatively small spaces tend to be calmer. I for one often have a hard time digesting a large exhibition in one visit. I usually view such an exhibition in stages so that I can give my full attention to the pieces. Smaller exhibitions are often a little more manageable, and they have just as much personality as the more extensive ones!

For instance, I recently saw an exhibition of baseball cards in the American Wing. Even for someone who knew few names of players apart from Lou Gehrig, I enjoyed looking at the images. I didn't realize many baseball cards were made by companies hoping to use famous players' faces to advertise their products. I liked that the cards were simple objects but also very rare considering how old they are.

Cravat | 38.19.3

Cravat, late 19th century. Probably Austrian. Linen, needle lace; 29 x 7 in. (73.7 x 17.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. George Nichols, from the collection of her mother, Mrs. J.P. Morgan (1868–1925), 1938 (38.19.3)

Compare those baseball cards with the objects in the exhibition Gems of European Lace, ca. 1600–1920. These lace pieces—which included a collar, veil, and handkerchiefs—are definitely not everyday objects! This exhibition was on view right outside the Museum's Antonio Ratti Textile Center. What a peaceful and quiet space it is! Since all of the lace pieces are in the same square room, you're able to see the differences between them: for instance, the shapes of the edges and how much space exists between the individual images. You will leave amazed by how cotton and linen can transform into such expressive and vivid images. Perhaps my favorite piece was a handkerchief in which the lace is 3-D. It is wild to think about how much time and patience it took to create such precious objects.

Next time you're at the Metropolitan, let yourself wander around the Museum and be pleasantly surprised by these smaller exhibitions! Of course, you can also look them up on the Current Exhibitions page of the Met's website before you arrive. Enjoy!

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