Metropolitan Museum of Art History
The Metropolitan Museum of Art's traces its earliest roots to 1866 in Paris, France, when a group of Americans came together to create a national institution and gallery of art to bring art and art education to the Americans. Subsequently, it was formed and incorporated in April 1870 and opened to the public in the Dodworth Building at 681 Fifth Avenue where it presented its first exhibition.
Background/History of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art was established by a group of Americans in the year 1866 in Paris, France. The central idea to build the museum was to bring art and art education to Americans.
- Lawyer John Jay, who came up with the idea, proceeded with the project upon his return to the United States from France. He formed and became the president of the Union League Club in New York rallying civic leaders, businessmen, artists, art collectors, and philanthropists to the cause under his presidency.
- On April 13, 1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art was incorporated and opened to the public in Dodworth Building at 681 Fifth Avenue where it presented its first exhibition.
- On November 20, 1870, the museum gained its first object, a Roman sarcophagus. In 1871, 174 European paintings, including works by Anthony van Dyck, Nicolas Poussin, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo joined the collection.
- On March 30, 1880, the museum briefly relocated to the Douglas Mansion at 128 West 14th Street, after which it opened to the public at its current site on Fifth Avenue, 82nd Street.
- The inceptive Ruskinian Gothic structure was designed by architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, with the west facade of which can be seen in the Robert Lehman Wing.
- Since then, the building has been enlarged to a great extent and the different additions—built as early as 1888—now completely encompass the original structure.
- The various collections of the museum progressively grew throughout the rest of 19th century whereby between 1874–76 they purchased the Cesnola Collection of Cypriot artworks which dates back from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman period. This helped the museum to enhance its reputation as the primary treasure house of classical antiquities.
- In 1872, after American painter John Kensett died, 38 of his canvases were brought to the museum. In 1889, the museum was able to acquire two works by Édouard Manet.
- In December 1902, the museum's Beaux-Arts Fifth Avenue facade and Great Hall, that was put together by the architect and founding museum trustee Richard Morris Hunt was opened to the public.
- In 1907, the museum acquired a work by Auguste Renoir and in 1910, The Met became the first public institution in the world to obtain a work of art by Henri Matisse.
- The ancient Egyptian hippopotamus statuette which is presently the museum's unofficial mascot, "William," came into the collection in 1917 thus establishing itself in the 20th century as one of the world's great art centers museum.
- By 1979, the museum owned five of the fewer than 35 known paintings by Johannes Vermeer and now The Met's 2,500 European paintings comprises one of the greatest such collections globally.
- The American Wing now has the world's most comprehensive collection of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts.
- A detailed and robust architectural plan for the museum by 'Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates' was approved in 1971 and completed in 1991.
- As part of the museum's master plan, other additions include the Robert Lehman Wing which was developed in 1975, houses a stunning collection of Old Masters, as well as Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.
- The Sackler Wing, which was developed in 1978 holds the Temple of Dendur. The American Wing's (1980) manifold collection includes 25 recently renovated period rooms.
- The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing (1982) displays the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. The Lila Acheson Wallace Wing (1987) presents modern and contemporary art. The Henry R. Kravis Wing (1991) is dedicated to European sculpture and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the beginning of the 20th century.
- In 1998, the Arts of Korea gallery was opened to the public, completing a major suite of galleries exclusively dedicated to the arts of Asia.
- The Ancient Near Eastern Art galleries were reopened to the public in 1999 after a renovation. In 2007, several major projects at the south end of the building were finalized. Among them, the 15-year renovation and reinstallation of the entire suite of Greek and Roman Art galleries were included.
- In 2007, the galleries for Oceanic and Native North American Art, the new galleries for 19th and early 20th century paintings and sculptures, and the Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education was opened.
- On November 1, 2011, the museum's new galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and later South Asia was opened to the public.
- On the north side of the museum, The Met's new American Wing galleries for paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts reopened on January 16, 2012, which marked the completion of the renovation of the third and final phase of the American Wing.
- On March 18, 2016, The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened The Met Breuer, which is a new space that is set apart for modern and contemporary art.
- It is located in the building designed originally by Bauhaus, an architect. The Met Breuer gives visitors an opportunity to engage with the art of 20th and 21st centuries through the global breadth and historical reach of The Met's striking collection and resources through a range of exhibitions, commissions, performances, and artist residencies.
- In 1938, The Met Cloisters was opened to the public, it is a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe.