Perhaps no word describes the Met as well as "encyclopedic." With nearly 3,000,000 works in its vaults that span 5,000 years, the museum can display only a fraction at a time. Several of the collections are described below.
The modern art section emphasizes mostly American paintings. The 19th-century European painting collection contains many great Impressionist and Post-Impressionist canvases. The European Paintings collection has Italian masterpieces as well as Dutch and Flemish works.
The American wing has the nation's finest collection of American painting, sculpture and decorative arts. Its Engelhard Court has fine examples of neoclassical and Beaux-Arts monumental sculpture and stained-glass windows by Tiffany. Nineteen period rooms date from 1680 (the Hart Room) to 1914 (the Frank Lloyd Wright Room).
The medieval art section encompasses the 4th through the 16th centuries. Strengths include early Christian and Byzantine silver and jewelry of the barbarian tribes.
The collections of the Asian Art section are from China, Japan, Korea, India and Southeast Asia. They date from the third millennium B.C. to the present. The re-creation of the Ming scholar's garden, with its rock garden and spring, is enchanting.
Works of ancient Near Eastern art range from the 6th millennium B.C. to the Arab conquest in A.D. 626 and come from Mesopotamia, Iran, Syria and Anatolia among other areas.
The Greek and Roman galleries cover several civilizations: works from the Classical period, pre-Greek artwork of the eastern Mediterranean and the pre-Roman art of Italy. The glass and silver holdings are considered among the finest in the world.
The Egyptian section includes jewelry from the Middle and New Kingdoms, sculpture depicting Queen Hatshepsut, and the Temple of Dendur, commanding a vast hangar-like space in the north wing.
Gallery talks and audio tours are offered in many languages. Subscription lectures, films, concerts and symposia are integral to the exhibitions.
The museum's website can be viewed in many languages and different audio guide programs are available in a variety of languages. Tours are available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Guided tours and international guided tours meet in the Great Hall. Workshops for Spanish-speaking families with children between the ages of 4 and 10 take place on a regular basis.
Programs for Seniors
Met Escapes invites individuals living with dementia, together with their family members or care partners, to participate in discussions, handling sessions, art making and other interactive and multi-sensory activities in the galleries and in a Met classroom. This program is free, but reservations are required and places are limited. Call (212) 650–2010 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to make a reservation or for more information.
Community Outreach programs are provided to senior centers by the museum's education department.
The museum offers gallery activities and workshops in the visual arts year-round. Activities include gallery talks, art conversations, sketching classes, films, printed museum guides and hunts that help families with children explore the galleries. Free classes for middle and high school students are also available. Check the museum's page for kids maps and guides as well as the page for family programs at The Met.
The Discoveries Program is for children wtih learning and developmental disabilities.
Staff-Guided Tours: Led by trained museum staff, these offer participatory introductions to the museum. Younger children sketch in the galleries. Tours for grades 1 and up, based on collections in the museum, include Great Works, Armor and the Middle Ages, and African Art (Tues-Thurs 9:30 am-12:45 pm).
Self-Guided Tours: The museum strongly encourages school groups to visit the galleries with their teachers acting as guides. Teacher self-guided tours of galleries for schoolchildren are available Tues-Thurs 9:30 am-3:30 pm; Fri-Sat 9:30 am-7 pm; Sun 9:30 am-4 pm.
Self-Guided Tours offered for the hearing and visually impaired, the disabled and in other languages by prior arrangement.
Professional Development: Throughout the year, the museum offers workshops and courses for elementary and secondary school teachers of all disciplines. For more information, call (212) 288-7733.