FINALLY, I got to enter The Guggenheim in New York City! Another check on my list. The “organic architecture” in white of Frank Lloyd Wright is just as amazing as Frank Gehry’s titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, styled in “decontructivism”. These design geniuses’ artworks can knock the breath out of anyone. Consider yourself lucky if you get the chance to gaze, come close and enter any one of the world’s most important architectural works.
We are not leaving the posh area of the Big Apple just yet. We’re still enjoying nature beside us, or at least, the closest to nature anyone can get in this Eastern state- Central Park. There is still the revitalizing energy present in its heart even in winter. After all, it’s the only “green” patch in this concrete grey jungle.
Let’s continue our leisurely walk along Fifth Avenue where the path of NYC’s renowned Museum Mile is. Six blocks down from the Guggenheim (we just skipped a couple museums along the road) on 82nd Street is another famed art institution housed in an majestic 1880 edifice (with a hundred years of construction history) in Beaux-Arts architectural style. It’s my time to meet the MET, another resident along the big-ticket “parking” zone.
The Met, as popularly referred to, is the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a US National Historic Landmark. It is home to an impressive permanent collection of more than two million works of art spanning five thousand years of world culture, from prehistoric to the present, making it one of the world’s largest and finest museums.
Having such a large collection, the Met created seventeen separate curatorial and four conservation departments, each manned with specialized staff of curators and scholars, to care and exhibit their collected treasure: the American decorative arts, American paintings and sculpture, Ancient Near Eastern art, Arms and armor, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Asian art, The Costume Institute, Drawings and prints, Egyptian art, European paintings, European sculpture and decorative arts, Greek and Roman art, Islamic art, Robert Lehman Collection, Libraries, Medieval art (which also has a smaller second collection at “The Cloisters” in Upper Manhattan), Modern art, Musical instruments, and photographs.
Having these, it comes to no surprise that The Metropolitan Museum of Art attracts at least five million visitors each year. Some, maybe returnees I believe, who may have come back to explore and admire more of the expansive collection they were not able to see on a single visit.
Covering the museum in a day is just impossible. I can vouch for that. Coming in late at past noon was not a good decision for this Pinoy traveler. I would have known better and went on opening time, or before just like a shopaholic by a store about to go on sale, to be able to at least spend more time with the world’s art.
The Met’s founders and thinkers in 1882 would be so proud where their vision of opening a library of art to the American people has become today. Everyone involved in the Met has stayed true to the museum’s mission – to collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and stimulate appreciation for and advance knowledge of works of art- and in doing so, bringing the Metropolitan Museum of Art closer to fulfilling its promise to become the foremost authority and most influential proponent of established works in America.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 24, 2011.