Known as The Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the United States and houses one of the largest collections of art (around 2 million pieces) in the world. New York is known for its world-class art museums and galleries, but The Met is its crown jewel, so to speak. The museum is located on the Museum Mile about midway up Central Park in a beautiful Beaux-Arts building that’s just as worthy of staring at as the art housed inside. You enter into a large atrium, where you can pay, get a map, and orient yourself. There are many different payment options, and there are ways to get discounts. For example, Bank of America card holders get in free the first weekend of every month.
It is difficult to overestimate just how vast The Met is. We have visited on four separate occasions, staying for at least two hours each time (usually more), and have seen only about half the museum. If you have limited time, we recommend looking at the map and choosing two or three genres that interest you. The Met’s holdings are generally arranged by time period and geographical region, with each genre situated in a wing of the museum. Depending on how long you spend perusing the art, you could spend all day in just one wing.
The bottom floor of The Met holds the museum’s Greek and Roman art; art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; Modern and Contemporary art; European Sculpture and Decorative arts; Medieval and Byzantine art; Arms and Armor; Egyptian art; and the American wing. Some of our favorites from the bottom floor include: the beautifully preserved Temple of Dendur, an Egyptian temple; Greek pottery that dates back several hundred years before Christ; Medieval Christian art almost one thousand years old; and furniture from royal families of Europe.
The second floor of The Met holds art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia; 19th- and Early 20th-Century European Paintings and Sculpture; more Modern and Contemporary art; European Paintings from 1250-1800; a bit more from the Greek and Roman collection; Ancient Near Eastern art; Asian art; more of the American wing; plus a number of smaller galleries. Some of the highlights from this floor include some wonderful pieces from ancient Babylon, including giant statues from Babylonian city gates; rooms from the Middle East; and paintings of the European masters.
While you can pick areas to explore based on your particular interests, it’s impossible to go anywhere in the museum without finding stunning pieces. If your energy starts to flag, there are several cafés and restaurants in The Met, offering snacks, quick meals, and even more elegant fare.
You can visit The Met as quickly as you would like, but to really savor the art requires a much longer visit, and probably more than one. These long and numerous visits are worth it, as The Met’s collection is unparalleled anywhere in the United States, and there are few art museums in the world that are even in the same category. If you visit New York, The Met should be high on your list of activities to do.