As I may have mentioned a flobbityjillion times on this blog, I am a Native New Yorker. Obviously there are an infinite number of fabulous attractions in New York to entertain tourist and native alike. Yet if you asked me to pick the best landmark in New York, the choice would be easy. There is only one tourist attraction that is a) my favorite and 2. the subject of a beloved Newbery Medal winning children’s book. Naturally I am speaking of the one and only Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Actually, metropolitan just means city, so maybe there are others? Surely there are lots of city museums in the world. But I digress.)
Since this is not my first time at the rodeo, and by the rodeo I mean the Met, I wanted to do something special for my very first blog post about this special museum. Then it struck me like a knife striking Van Gogh’s ear. On Fridays and Saturdays the Met is open from 10 to 9. I should take the Met Challenge (not a real thing) and spend all day at the Met! This is not for the faint of heart, but it can be done. Observe!
You Should Get Breakfast At Joe the Art of Coffee
Address: 1045 Lexington Avenue
You’ll definitely want to fuel up with coffee and a pastry before taking the Met Challenge. I really like the cappuccinos at Joe the Art of Coffee, and the helpful coffeemakers–I refuse to use the term barista–will give you a bonus and draw cute designs on your coffee. Get a go-to cap for the java and a doughnut or cookie and then take them so you can breakfast on line at the Met.
You Should Get Get on Line Before Ten AM
That’s because the line will look like this:
But don’t be scared! The line moves pretty fast once the doors open. The scary parts are yet to come.
The Met has a very lovely pay what you wish policy for its museum, but I think if you’re going to spend all day in a place, you should suck it up and give them your money. That means ponying up 25 smackeroos.
Morning: See the Special Exhibits
This is because special in a museum is just another word for temporary and temporary means not permanent so you need to snap up those special exhibits while you can. Sometimes the Met lets you take pictures at the special exhibits and sometimes they don’t, so buyer beware.
There were two special exhibits up at this time because the Met was celebrating the centennial of its Asian Art Collection. The first exhibit was on the art of the Deccan sultanates of India from 1500-1700, and the second. China Through the Looking Glass, was about the use of chinoiserie in fashion. (Spellcheck wants to correct chinoiserie to trichinosis.)
There are only two reasons to go to a museum: to look at pretty things and to learn things or, in more Horatian terms, to be delighted and instructed. That is why I always write down three things I learned after every museum exhibit I visit, and I always (if allowed by Legal) take a picture of my favorite work.
1. Fashion designers (both Western and Chinese) have taken design inspiration from everything from the Manchu robe worn by emperors to the Mao suit.
2. Designers have also taken inspiration from other Chinese art forms like blue and white porcelain. I also learned that some blue and white porcelain patterns that are now considered traditionally Chinese were in fact created by an English potter, who was himself inspired by Yuan dynasty pottery. It’s the circle of pottery!
|I really need that dress on the right.|
3. Anna May Wong, often considered the first Chinese American movie star, was not allowed to kiss white male costars on screen because of laws against miscegenation. This is one of the egregious cases I was speaking about earlier.
|I have a feeling that pose falls under egregious as well.|
But my favorite work was…
This was from a display on wuxia, stories about martial artists with semi-magical powers that have been kicking around China for at least two thousand years.
PS. If you set up a glass bamboo forest in the middle of the Met and put mannequins dressed as martial artists inside the bamboo and then screen martial arts films in the background, that is going to look really cool.
Lunch: The Met Cafeteria
You will need to take frequent breaks so you don’t get worn out, and shopping and eating are the two easiest ways to take a break at the Met. I recommend getting a plate and filling it with things from the salad bar. The food tastes fine and won’t be exorbitant and greasy.
|I don’t think this looks very Instagrammable.|
Early Afternoon: Guided Tour
These tours are awesome because they are free, the guides are knowledgeable, and they are offered frequently. Also, something really exciting might happen, like maybe your group will just be casually strolling through the European painting section, on the way to check out an early Renaissance painting. And maybe your docent will be thwarted from showing the painting she wanted to show because a group from Museum Hack was already there talking rather loudly. And maybe your docent will ask them to move along because they didn’t check their tour plans with the docents like they were supposed to.
And maybe the Museum Hack people won’t move away fast enough and the Met docent and Museum Hack group will start yelling at each other, things like “WHAT IS YOUR FULL NAME BECAUSE I AM WRITING IT DOWN?” and “WE PAID FOR THIS TOUR JUST LIKE YOU DID AND WE ARE REPORTING YOU!” Maybe this will strike you as very funny because no one on the official Met tour paid for anything.
I’m not saying these things all happened to me, but they definitely did.
Late Afternoon: EGYPT
After the tour, you should pick up a trusty audioguide and explore a particular area of the museum until your feet can’t take it any more. I recommend Egypt, especially if you would like pepper on your paprikash.
1. Those Ancient Egyptians were pretty clever. At first glance, this dish looks like it’s shaped like an ankh, but…
if you look at it from the side view, you can see the shape of a hand. This is like the Egyptian version of those duck/rabbit pictures.
3. So Egypt used to have a system called partage, which meant that if a foreign museum came to Egypt and led an excavation, the Egyptian government would let the foreign museum keep some of what they found. According to my Audio Guide, most of the most valuable things were left in Egypt. I hope that’s true! Partage is why the Met has some amazing Egyptian items, like this model of the Harvard crew team found buried in a pyramid.
But my favorite thing was…
The Met’s mascot, the blue hippo William. So hippopotamuses are very scary and dangerous in real life, and my Audio Guide instructed me not to find the Met’s resident blue hippo adorable because he is meant to represent warlike ferocity. Too late, Met! If you don’t want me to find him adorable, don’t name him William and make little plushy dolls out of him.
Dinner: The Great Hall Balcony Bar
The rooftop bar at the Met gets a lot of press because anything on a roof is automatically cooler, but I prefer the bar on the Great Balcony because it has soothing classical music, which your feet will need at this point in the day, and there is also the possibility of getting dinner. The Balcony Bar usually has a special menu with a connection to one of the exhibits. This time it was Japanese food in honor of the Centennial events.
I think you should always get the Appetizer Sampler if it is available because it lets you try more things and variety is always better. This sampler came with Edamame, Yakitori, Salmon Roll, and Tuna Tartare. My favorite was the tuna tartare because of the yuzu gel that it came with. I really like to eat anything that makes me think, “Oh weird…yum!”
This is the special yuzu cocktail.
I also got the dessert sampler because I wanted to sit for as long as possible. These were all fine. I liked the cheesecake on the left the best because it was a little tart.
Evening: Shop at the Met Stores in the Lobby
You’ll be too tired to do anything else. At 8:30ish they will make the closing announcement and then you can start to file out with everyone else. Just be sure to take a photo of the exterior at night for proof, like so:
I am here to provide perfect travel itineraries with 24 hours, 3 fun facts, and 1,000,000 laughs! I hope that I can motivate you to get out there, see the world, learn something, and have a sense of humor about it all.