Making The Met, 1870-2020

Yvonna Russell
4 min readAug 31, 2020
Paul Cézanne (French, 1839 — 1906). Still Life with a Ginger Jar and Eggplants, 1893 — 94. Oil on canvas. 28 1/2 x 36 in. (72.4 x 91.4 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, 1960

“The show must go on”, Queen front man Freddy Mercury sang. “Making the Met 1870–2020” is the signature exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan. Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the museum, the. intimate jewel box presentation of over 250 works of art span the illustrious history. The Metropolitan Museum of Art began in 1870 with no building or art but a mission to become the cultural institution in New York.

Georgia O’Keeffe, American, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin 1887 — 1986 Santa Fe, New Mexico Cow’s Skull: Red, White, and Blue 1931 Oil on canvas 39 7/8 x 35 7/8 in. (101.3 x 91.1 cm) Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1952 52.2

Feast your eyes on the collection which starts at the beginning with a chronological timeline through each century. The great masters of painting and drawing Degas, Manet, Cezanne, and Van Gogh followed by modern masters Ellsworth Kelley, Max Beckmann and Andy Warhol are illuminated through stories. Wall texts tell the story of pivotal movements as the museum developed into one of the largest and important institutions. Brief behind the scenes stories of the. curators. trustees, benefactors and collectors are fascinating.

Edward J. Steichen, American (born Luxembourg), Bivange 1879 — 1973 West Redding, Connecticut. The Flatiron 1904, printed 1909 Gum bichromate over platinum print 47.8 × 38.4 cm (18 13/16 × 15 1/8 in.) Frame: 34 5/8 × 29 5/8in. (87.9 × 75.2 cm) Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 193 33.43.3.

As technology evolved photography was added to the museum and the works of Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, Richard Avedon, Man Ray, Gary Winograd and digital video from Ann Hamilton. The collections treasures span the millennia of archival antiquities, sculpture, musical instruments and decorative arts acquired from around the world.

Figure from a Reliquary Ensemble: Seated Female. Fang peoples, Okak group 19th — early 20th century. Wood, metal. The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Gift of Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1965 1978.412.441

The Costume Institute began by Diana Vreeland showcases haute couture from fashion designers Cristobal Balanciega, Yves St. Laurent inspired by Mondrian and a 3D design made from a computer from Dutch designer. Iris Van Herpen.

Andy Warhol, American, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1928 — 1987 New York Mona Lisa 1963 Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas 44 x 29 in. (111.8 x 73.7 cm) Gift of Henry Geldzahler, 1965 65.273

Championed by visionary curators along the way acquistions of Mary Cassatt, Romare Bearden, Faith Ringgold, Georgia O’Keeffe and recently Carmen Herrera to the collection reflect the Museum’s diversity and an environment of equity, inclusion and dialogue. The role of the museum in society requires a journey of transformation that will continue on pass 2020.

Mounted vase Chinese with French mounts porcelain early 18th century, mounts ca. 1750 Hard-paste porcelain; gilt-bronze mounts H. 23 3/8 x W. 13 3/4 x D. 12 1/2 in. (59.4 x 34.9 x 31.8 cm) Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1971 1971.206.22

The curators Andrea Bayer, Deputy Director for Collections and Administration and Laura D. Corey, Senior Research Associate and the Met staff. have organized a superb time capsule collection. from 5,000 years of art. “Making the Met” was made with the support of Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation and Bank of America.

Faith Ringgold, American, born New York, 1930 Street Story Quilt. 1985 Cotton canvas, acrylic paint, ink marker, dyed and printed cotton, and sequins, sewn to a. cotton flannel backing Overall: 90 x 144 in. (228.6 x 365.8 cm) Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund and funds from various donors, 1990 1990.237a-c

Max Hollein, Director of the Museum, said, “As the signature exhibition for our 150th anniversary, this will be a show like no other at The Met. It is about the development of an idea into one of the largest and most important art institutions in the world, about the rise of New York City as a cultural destination, and about the evolution of a museum’s role in the community. By reflecting on The Met’s history, from 1870 up to the extraordinary developments that have defined the year 2020, the exhibition provides the opportunity to learn from our past and inform our future. Above all, in ways both planned and unanticipated, this anniversary year has highlighted how it is people — artists, staff, and visitors — who truly make The Met, and we look forward to welcoming all to this exhibition.”

Iris Van Herpen (Dutch, born 1984). Ensemble, fall/winter 2011–12. Polyamide, leather, acrylic. Length x Width x Depth (a): 27 3/16 × 21 5/8 × 9 13/16 in. Length x Width x Depth (b): 18 1/8 in. × 20 7/8 in. × 11 in. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, 2012

The COVID-19. pandemic caused the museum to close for the first time since 1880. The March 20th debut was postponed till the reopening. The staff prepared before reopening with healthcare professionals on the safest protocol to welcome back visitors. Temperature guns, sanitizing stations, social distancing floor markers and helpful staff are utilized for everyone’s safety.

Mary Cassatt (American, 1844–1926). Lady at the Tea Table, 1883–85. Oil on canvas. 29 x 24 in. (73.7 x 61 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the artist, 1923

The exhibition “Making the Met” runs till January 3,2021 in the Tisch Galleries at The Met Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Yvonna Russell

Writer. I cover the arts, good causes and style. Will work for coffee, wine and Manolo Blahniks.