The NYC Landmarks Project


Metropolitan Museum of Art (major construction between 1871-1902)

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986

1000 5th Avenue

New York, New York, 10028


The Met was founded in 1870 by a group of private citizens and first opened its doors to the public in 1872 in a much smaller building. The collection grew quickly and a new home was built in Central Park on land donated by the city. However, this building was designed by Calvert Vaux (also partially responsible for Central Park) in the high-Victorian style then going out of fasion and the Met's own board of directors grew disenchanted with it. New architectural plans were drawn up by Richard Morris Hunt that used the old, red-brick, mausoleum-style structure as an interior shell with a new Beaux Arts exterior. Bits of the original red-brick construction can still be seen on the first floor, in the Byzantine galleries. This second major incarnation was completed in 1902. McKim, Mead, and White added the north and south wings between 1904 and 1926. However, what you see now is actually an amalgamation of 26 structures that, from the Fifth Avenue side, appear to have a seamless facade. Walk around behind the museum and you get a much different sense of this monumental palace of the arts.

The Met is one of those "must see" New York landmarks. I doubt there are many visitors to the city who don't make at least a cursory stop at the museum. As such, it receives approximately 5 million visitors each year. With more than 2,000,000 square feet of space, however, there are nooks and crannies of the museum you can disappear into without constantly bumping elbows. For that reason alone, I often like to explore the less popular rooms on the second floor, home to such varied galleries as European Sculpturs and Decorative Arts, Greek and Roman Art, and the underappreciated and undervalued Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

Click any of the thumbnails below to go to the image gallery.