a century and a half that tells of civilization

Whether you have faith in the quantity and destination-oriented you have, it’s always a good idea to have someone who believes in miracles or who, at least, is willing to pray for us. Provides some reassurance. Something similar to the security that the fact of entrust to the power of Santa Rosalía intercedes for the plague of Palermo
. Van Dyck painted this painting in 1624, while in quarantine from a plague epidemic, and more than two centuries later, in 1871, it was one of the first acquired masterpieces for the backdrop of the Metropolitan in New York along with 173 other old European pieces.

Second Philippe de Montebello, one of directors more emblematic of the museum, with almost thirty years in office, from 1977 to 2008, the aim of the founders was, in addition to educating New York artists by example, to redeem the inhabitants of a city that was beginning to fill with thugs and undesirable. A few years after the end of the Civil War, entrepreneurs, owners and bankers thus relied on the power of art to save a city and cause a moral effect on its citizens. The looks were direct then, as they do now when we are immersed in a pandemic, in the eyes of Santa Rosalia so that she could free the metropolis called to be the center of the world from the plague.

Inauguration, February 20, 1872, at the Dodworth Mansion, of the first house of the museum. Image taken from the March 9, 1872 issue of “Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Journal”

If the crisis caused by Covid-19 allows it, the August 29 This encyclopedic temple in New York will resume the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of its founding, dated April 1870. It is the The largest museum in America, with 186,000 square meters, more than one and a half million works – by Rafael, Tiziano, el Greco, Rembrandt, Velázquez, Picasso, Pollock or Braque, among many others – and close to seven million views every year, not in this bizarre 2020, of course.

For the first time in its history, from Friday 13 March, it was forced to close the doors of the Fifth Avenue Headquarters, along with Central Park, the Met Breuer on Madison Avenue, and the Cloisters in the Inwood area, north of Manhattan, which he hadn’t done for more than three days in his century and a half of life. In 2019 it was the fourth most visited museum in the world, just behind the Louvre, the Chinese National Museum and the Vatican Museums. All of these huge dimensions tied to the Met keep one waiting for celebratory splendor that is up to the task. He central actHe is the show
Do the Met
, 1870-2020, whose inauguration is scheduled for the same 29 August.

The large kneeling statue of Hatshepsut undergoing restoration.  Photograph of 24 October 1930

The large kneeling statue of Hatshepsut undergoing restoration. Photograph of October 24, 1930 (Wilson Santiago)

The centenary of the institution wants to serve to illustrate how could you express the human being during 5,000 years of civilization and in every corner of the world. In 10 chapters and all the way through 250 worksIt also retraces the history of the museum, showing its main treasures, claiming the educational ideals that guided it and that advanced it, as well as fueling the debate on thorny issues such as the dilemmas caused by excavations, the distribution of finds, progressivism and nationalism that led to the creation of the American Wing in the early 20th century.

The boom experienced by the United States with the new century and the massive arrival of immigrants from all over the world have forced the promoters of the institution to reflect on the meaning of being American. The imperialist and / or cosmopolitan vocation, according to the narrative, seemed already present in an institution whose fund had been Cypriot antiques – Its first director, Luigi Palma Di Cesnola, was the United States consul in Cyprus and was closely linked to the excavations – to North American paintings, including pre-Columbian sculptures, musical instruments and armor from around the world.

The Lettering Shop photographed in 1922

The Lettering Shop photographed in 1922

Over the years the museum has grown in large part thanks to donations of its benefactors, such as the legacy of Louisine Havemeyer and your husband Henry Orborne Havemeyer, the first North American collectors of Impressionist art, consisting of over 2,000 works, or the impulse promoted by Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keefe. Among the shortcomings is the rejection of the Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney collection, around which the Whitney Museum of American Art was born.

In a turbulent time like the current one, with multiple requests occupying the main streets of every city on the planet, the director, Max Hollein, and the president of the institution, Daniel Weiss, emphasize the idea of work for the community, both the closest and the most global, then the role of museums in times of war, crisis and revolution o the approach to collecting will be other aspects to reflect on during the celebration. The key moments in the history of this encyclopedic temple will thus be remembered, such as the incorporation of Islamic art since 1963, under the direction of the charismatic James Rorimer, who will also be remembered for his decisive contribution to the protection of the artistic heritage during the second war. world.

James Rorimer incorporated Islamic art in 1963 and was the key to protecting the artistic heritage during World War II

With the aim of demonstrating how a typical 19th century space makes sense in the 21st century, techniques, settings and discourses have been updated. Shortly before the planet woke up in a pandemic, the Met presented the British Galleries, with a new curatorial narration of his collections. Thus, the 700 works of British decorative arts exhibited in the renovated Annie Laurie Aitken Galleries and in the Josephine Mercy Heathcote Gallery are exhibited following a new story more in line with the reality of the moment. Just as social networks and the internet have been filled with virtual proposals to get to know the collection and the soul of the museum.

Exterior view of the museum in an image taken around 1895

Exterior view of the museum in an image taken around 1895

However, it was not possible to create the Met Gala, which traditionally brings together the most famous of the fashion world on the first Monday of May to raise funds for the museum’s Costume Institute. This year, the curator Andrew Bolton He announced that the theme of the gala, now scheduled for the end of October, would be “Fashion and duration”.

There are also other exhibitions scheduled to demonstrate the international reach of the Met’s aspirations, such as those dedicated to the Sahel, Buddhist art or Tudor court. Thus, once again begging Santa Rosalía to defend the world from the plague, everything is ready to commemorate 150 years of an institution that has relied on the invisible power of art to defeat the threats of a world that seemed overflowing.

Present-day view of the Charles Engelhard Court in the American wing

Current view of the Charles Engelhard Court in the American wing (Archive)

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