Museums Podcasts

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 150 Years of History on Display

EPISODE 341 Celebrating the history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 150th anniversary year of its founding — certainly one of the strangest years in its extraordinary existence. 

The Met is really the king of New York attractions, with visitors heading up to Central Park and streaming through the doors by the millions to gasp at the latest blockbuster exhibitions and priceless works of art and history. 

And who doesn’t love getting lost at the Met for an afternoon — wandering from the Greek and Roman galleries to the imposing artifacts within the Arms and Armor collection and the treasures of the Asian Art rooms?

The Theodore Weston addition to the Met 1893, J.S. Johnston, Library of Congress

But this museum has a few surprising secrets in its history — and more than a few skeletons (or are those mummies?) in its closet.

WITH Ancient temples, fabulous fashions, classical relics, Dutch masters, controversial exhibitions and the decorative trappings of the Gilded Age.

November 1928, photo courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

AND Find out how the museum building has evolved over the years, employing some of the greatest architects in American history. 

PLUS An interview with the Met’s Andrea Bayer, Deputy Director for Collections and Administration, on the museum’s celebratory exhibition Making the Met 1870-2020

How do you launch an anniversary celebration during a pandemic and lockdown?

Listen today on your favorite podcast player:

Opening reception in the picture gallery at 681 Fifth Avenue, February 20, 1872; wood-engraving published in Frank Leslie’s Weekly, March 9, 1872
‘The Barn’, the original Met from Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art
1900, Detroit Pub Co, Library of Congress
The Richard Morris Hunt addition to the Met, 1903, Detroit Pub Co, Library of Congress
The Great Hall, 1907, Library of Congress
The Met in 1920, with the southern wing in place. Museum of the City of New York
The Met in 1983, Getty Images

Some excellent footage from the 1920s of the Met’s Egyptian excavations

The Temple of Dendur. photo by Greg Young
The American Wing sculpture garden at night, photo by Greg Young
Branch Bank entrance, 2012, photo by Greg Young
Washington Crossing the Delaware, taken 2017, photo by Greg Young
Dendur at night, 2018, photo by Greg Young
The Met at Christmas, 2018, photo by Greg Young
The European sculpture garden at night, with views of the original 19th century facade in red brick. 2018, photo by Greg Young

Views from Making the Met (photos by Greg Young):

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The Met was a bit behind the times when it came to celebrating Impressionism but New Yorkers could take a gander at the ‘shocking’ output from Europe — as well as examples from the New York’ Ashcan School — at the Armory Show of 1913.

The Met is a twin institution to the American Museum of Natural History which shares a similar origin story.

In the second half of our Fifth Avenue Mansions series, we look at how the wealthy mansions of Fifth Avenue left midtown and headed to the Upper East Side.

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