One of the greatest things about living in New York City is the total access to culture and the arts. Its often the reason I say I will always have to maintain a residence here. I could not fathom living someplace where I would have to schedule a vacation just to see a Broadway play.
Since I am one of the lucky ones, I try to take advantage of all that my city has to offer. In fact it is one of the reasons I started my annual to do list (https://bit.ly/2JSFq4u). I wanted to ensure that all of the activities and restaurants people travel here just to see, I do not miss. After all, when I travel this is what I do, so it only makes sense that I would do the same within my own city.
One of the items I haven’t added to my official list but have been meaning to revisit is The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has been over fifteen years since I was last there and back then I am pretty sure it was for a school project that my younger brother had to do.
As a New Yorker, you go to many museums on school trips but you are often far too young to have any interest. Worse yet, you don’t appreciate anything you are seeing. A classic example of this is a story I am infamous for within my inner circle that was retold during my blog about Philadelphia activities (https://bit.ly/2tYbgCO).
Now that I am grown I appreciate the history, art, and culture museums and cherished city attractions bring to our lives. I see the value. More so, I seek them out.
What finally got me moving my butt to The Met recently was their Heavenly Bodies exhibit. It debuted in May during their annual gala and was even featured in Ocean’s 8 - which is really the only reason to watch that film. Sadly this exhibit closed on October 8th. If you missed it I am sorry, but I will do my best share with you now how truly spectacular it was.
The first thing I did when I entered the museum was spend some time among the Egyptians. Sadly The Bangles were not there to sing their infamous song about them but it was wondrous nevertheless. While I oohed and awed all about, there was one exhibit and one room only that I had my mind on. It is pictured in numerous movies but the one that always springs to mind first is “When Harry Met Sally”. When I asked a security guard about the location of this room I used those words to explain what I was looking for along with mentioning that there is a huge glass window facing the park. His answer was: “oh you’re looking for the Temple of Dendur.” Yep, thats where I wanted to be.
This is room is a full reconstruction of the Temple of Dendur which dates back to 10 B.C. It was built during the reign of Caesar. Yes, Cleopatra’s Caesar. It is said to be a tribute to the sons of a Nubian lord proving that having a Roman leader would be a positive thing for the country.
The temple had in a prominent place, overlooking the Nile River, that is until its annual flooding proved to be too much. In order to stop the flooding a dam was needed but the temple would need to be moved. In that end, the Egyptian government decided to donate the temple as a gift to United States as a thank you for the support they gave helping Egypt relocate many of its historic sites (to make the construction of the dam possible). The gift was received in 1965 and it was installed at The Met in 1967 where it has remained ever since.
Next was the main attraction and my first priority during this visit, the exhibit that used fashion to explore the relationship between culture and religion; “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination”. It begins near the Temple and as you ascend downstairs the gravity of what you are about to see creeps upon you. Behind the doors there are over fifty vestments belonging to Pope’s of the past. The garments, shoes, tiaras (yes tiaras), and other treasures are akin to seeing the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London (https://bit.ly/2zuZWB9), which I have.
Each item was more glamours than the next and clear that while each Pope has their own style, they all seem to have a taste for the finer things which sounds counter intuitive to their roles as a spiritual leader and head of the church.
The fact that the Archbishop even agreed to have these items on display for all to see, appears to be a miracle, or one could say the work of God. While no pictures were allowed, the images of what I saw will remained ingrained in my mind’s eye.
After the ten minutes I spent exploring in this room, I wondered where were all of the garments? I had done a lot of reading and had several specific visions I wanted to see up close and in person. Apparently it was back upstairs no where near the items from the Vatican. The layout still doesn’t make sense to me.
However, once I found the fashion side of the exhibit, I was BLOWN away!
There was choir like music playing all throughout. There were GORGEOUS dresses by Versace, Dolce and Gabbana, Givenchy, Dior, and the like. It was the holy grail of fashion. There was not one single site that didn’t cause me to gasp out loud. I was sure I was going to break my phone the way I kept pointing and shooting picture after picture. The pure beauty was awe-inspiring.
In addition to all of the high couture, there were many religious objects within this large space that were already in The Met.
Ana Wintour and her crew truly outdid themselves. This explains why it was the most visited exhibit since the "Treasures of Tutankhamun” debuted in 1978. “Heavly Bodies” had over one point six million in the five months it was on display and was once of the largest exhibitions to date.
I cannot even imagine what they are working on for next year.
From here I had only more place I HAD to visit. It was in the American wing of the museum and contained the works of a man I have become obsessed with: Frank Lloyd Wright.
I have seen all of his buildings in Oak Park (Chicago), Illinois (https://bit.ly/2Bpufu7) and his recent special exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art (https://bit.ly/2DDWTcn). But so far my most favorite FLW related location I have visited was his infamous Fallingwater in Mill Creek, PA (https://bit.ly/2KnVQyD).
As I mentioned before, the last time I was at The Met was a lifetime ago, but I have a memory of visiting the “White House”.
The house sits within the American Wing. Each room within “the house” exemplifies a period of American history and culture. While it is cool to walk through, I only had one room in mind.
Naturally because it is all I wanted to see in this section it was closed for repairs. Thus, I was only able to peer inside the windows and see the other FLW furniture located in the nearby halls.
For those who can actually walk through this room, you should.
It is a living room originally constructed for the Frank W. Little House in Minnesota, Minneapolis between 1912 and 1914. When the house became slated for demolition due to financial difficulties, The Met opted to take many pieces of the fifty-five foot living room, as did the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Allentown Art Museum.
Despite my disappointment, I never tire of getting to see even the smallest creations of the man, the myth, the legend that is Frank Lloyd Wright.
And although “Temple Dendur” is no “Heavenly Bodies”, it is easily one of the most visited and recognizable exhibits. Walking through and around this temple, gave me the feeling that I was no longer in New York City but had suddenly been transported without use of my passport. I especially loved the life sized statues standing guard, the alligator composed of tile within the water, and the sphinx where I could stand nearby and take a photo. It is easily my most favorite part of the entire museum and it really will never be a room I can skip whenever I shall visit again.
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