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Top 10 Facts about the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City


The Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City is the largest art museum in the United States. Its permanent collection is over two million and is displayed in 17 curatorial departments.

Referred to as MET, in short, the museum’s main building is at 1000 Fifth Avenue. Its smaller second location at The Cloisters at Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, has an extensive collection of art, architecture, and artefacts from medieval Europe.

The art collection in this museum date back to more than 5,000 years. They are from all over the world. Additionally, they host an online MET experience that millions of people take part in.

Ever since its grand opening in 1870, the Met remains to be a hub of rare art finds and objects. It was established to encourage the study of fine arts and its application in manufacturing and daily life by the American people.  

There is more to learn about this Museum in the top 10 facts below.

1. The Permanent Collection of Art at the MET range from Egyptian Art to American Art

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The Met’s permanent collection is made up of works of art from ancient Egypt. These precious pieces were gotten from private collections, some from the museum’s excavations done between 1906 and 1941.

There is a total of 26,000 pieces from Egyptian art dating back to the Palaeolithic era and the Ptolemaic era. All these artefacts are on display in 40 Egyptian galleries at the museum.

Some of the most valuable Egyptian pieces are 13 wooden models. They were discovered in a tomb in the Southern Asasif western Thebes in 1920. These models depict a cross-section of Egyptian life in the early Middle Kingdom.

2. There is a resident florist at the MET

This may come in as a surprise especially if you have been to the MET and did not pay more attention to the beautiful flowers. The bouquet is mostly found in the Great Hall.

Remco van Vliet is the resident florist who has worked at the museum since 2003. He is a Dutch-born florist who comes from a generation of florists. His grandfather and father had a successful flower business in Holland. 

Van Vliet’s floral arrangements are about 12-foot-tall and are always inspired by the museum’s artwork. He works on five bouquets every week.

3. The Metropolitan Museum was not always this big

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The Metropolitan Museum was founded by a group of businessmen, financiers, artists, and cultural enthusiasts in 1870. Its first home was at 681 fifth Avenue.

Part of the collection that was housed there was a Roman stone sarcophagus and 174 European paintings. Its collection quickly grew and they needed more space for everything.

A new building was identified on West 14th Street in 1873. The Douglas Mansion was a temporary home. In 1879, the museum was moved to its permanent location. 

The museum opened its doors in 1880 on Fifth Avenue and Central Park. Its original Ruskian Gothic design by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey can still be seen on the red-brick façade.

4. Its Art Collection from Africa was done in the late 20th century

The MET has several collections from Africa. The curators collected work from Africa, Oceania and America until 1969. Egyptian collection amount to 26,000 pieces.

There are more than 11,000 pieces of artefacts from Sub-Saharan Africa that is housed in the Rockefeller Wing. They first displayed African artefacts to the general public was done in 1982.

Part of the priceless collection is ceremonial and personal objects from the Nigerian Court of Benin donated by Klaus Perls.

5. The Metropolitan Museum got most of its collection in the 19th century

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The Museum’s collection grew a lot in the 19th century. There are works dating from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman period.

These collections helped establish the museum’s reputation as a major storehouse of classical antiquities. Part of John Kensett work was an American painter, were donated to the museum in 1872. 

It has been described at a neoclassical palace of art as well as the finest museum in the world.

6. The MET is one of the world’s greatest Art Centres

This museum continues to be the world’s greatest art centre. The museum has exclusive art pieces from Auguste Renoir, a French impressionist painter.

They acquired the collection in 1907 and publicly displayed it in 1910. The MET was also the first museum to acquire Henri Matisse’s work.

It is only at the MET that you will find the largest Egyptian collection out of Cairo. This is also where you will get to see about 35 paintings by Johannes Vermeer.

There are about 2,500 European paintings, these make it one of the greatest collections in one place in the entire world. The American Wing houses the world’s most inclusive collection of American paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.

7. The Museum was designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo

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The architectural plan for the Museum was done by the talented architect Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates. Their design was approved in 1971 and they have completed it in 1991.

Readjustment’s on the building was done with the addition of Robert Lehman Wing in 1975. This wing houses a collection of Old Masters, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.

The original red Gothic building was designed by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould. This original structure is completely enclosed in the modern building.

To see the original façade, head to the Petrie Court Sculpture Gallery and also from the Lehman Wing.  

8. It’s Home to the world’s oldest piano

If you’re more of a music person than an art lover, there’s something for you at the MET. Part of the museum’s collections includes 5,000 musical instruments.

One of these is the world’s oldest piano dating back to 1720. It was created by Bartolomeo Cristofori, an Italian pianist, who also invented it.

9. The MET has a Mascot

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You would never think that a museum needed a mascot, right? Well, the MET has one and it is an Egyptian hippopotamus. Although he may be an unofficial mascot, William was acquired in 1917.

William is a blue figurine, quite adorable. In ancient Egypt, the hippo was feared both in the present life and afterlife.

It was found in the outer workings of a tomb in Upper Egypt with three of its legs broken. The broken legs have since been repaired.

He got his nickname William in 1931 from a humour magazine.

10. More than 4 million tourists visit the MET each year

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It is no surprise that The Met is one of the greatest attractions in New York and the entire United States. In 2019 alone, 7.3 million people had visited the museum.

The museum is always filled with art lovers every day. If you want a less crowded section, check out the secluded galleries or get a private tour of the museum.