Metropolitan Museum of Art – Harmony Art Mom’s Visit

The Met NYC
New York City. Central Park. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Finally, the time had come for this art lover to visit the Met. It was such a treat to be able to share the experience with my husband, Mr. A, and Mr. B. All four of us took the train from our hotel in Newark, New Jersey into Penn Station in New York. We switched to the subway and emerged at the edge of Central Park, near the American Museum of Natural History which we had visited the day before. We planned the trip so we could walk across Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It was a great plan. We really enjoyed getting a taste of the natural spaces in Central Park.

The main event was the museum visit so with our City Passes in hand we gained admission and a map. Wow! We are no stranger to larger art museums (see our De Young Museum San Francisco visit from 2010) but even looking at the museum map made me take a deep breath. I didn’t know where to start so I turned the expedition over to the boys who decided the Egyptian gallery was going to be first.

The Met NYC egyptian
It was fascinating, colorful, amazing, and far more interesting than I could have ever imagined. The scale of this museum surprised me. There was a fully reconstructed temple inside and many obelisks, statues, and columns with hieroglyphs. A study of ancient cultures would come alive using the exhibits in this gallery. Many of the artifacts we had seen in books and on the internet so it was amazing to see them in real life..up close…the real thing.

Tiffany Autumn Window MET
Autumn Landscape Window. Tiffany. 1923-1924.

We made it through the Egyptian Art, the Greek and Roman Art, and then skipped over to the American Wing. My eyes were just darting everywhere and trying to take it all in. All of us were fascinated with the various aspects of this wing of the museum. It wasn’t just paintings and artwork but whole rooms full of furniture set to look as if someone lived there. There were dishes and clothing and then we came to the outer edges and found the Tiffany glass collection. Words do not describe it all.

There are just some things you have to see in person to appreciate. I have always been a huge fan of Tiffany glass but to see the vivid colors and the design of the pieces here at the museum was a treat of a lifetime.

American wing cafe MET
It was time for a rest to try to process it all.

We stopped for a break at the cafe…a little chocolate treat and a big drink of water. We all were a buzz with things we were enjoying. We pulled out the map of the museum and tried to gather our thoughts and make a plan for seeing all the important things since we knew by now we would not see it all.

Arms and Armory MET
Arms and Armor Gallery

The boys decided the Arms and Armor gallery was next on their priority list so we found that on the map and headed that way. It was hard not to be distracted by all the interesting things in between galleries but I did my best. This was the highlight of Mr. A’s visit to the Met. I wasn’t sure how I would like it but it ended up being very interesting….so many pieces of armor from people we have read about in our history books. It gave our history a layer of realness as we looked at Henry the VIII’s armor and saw helmets and swords of all kinds from around the world.

MET arms and armory gallery
We marveled at the artistry of it all. The craftsman who made these pieces were masters at making the functional items beautiful. Helmets, swords…lots of things for the boys to stop and look at and photograph.

Musical Instruments MET
Some how we managed to fit in the Musical Instruments gallery and I was really glad that we did. This was where Mr. A found some of his favorite things in the museum. It didn’t sound very exciting at first but once we entered the gallery I was fascinated with the collection of instruments from around the world. Some of them are works of art and quite beautiful.

Harvesters Pieter Bruegel
The Harvesters. Pieter Bruegel the Elder. 1565.

So now we came to the part of the visit that was on my “must do” list…..to visit the paintings that I longed to see in person and up close. I took many photos of artwork that meant something to me and I could bore you with loads and loads of them but instead I picked a few that we all are familiar with just so you can get a little taste of what this museum offers if you ever get the chance to visit.

Note: We took a lunch break before we started this leg of our visit. The cafe was super yummy and it had quite a variety of delicious foods to try. Tip: Don’t skip the lunch hour. Feed your teens…they will have a much better attitude.

Friedland. Ernest Meissonier.
1807, Friedland. Ernest Meissonier.

Mr. B enjoyed the paintings with historical significance. I caught him several times just standing and gazing. It always felt like such a private moment that I didn’t want to interrupt with lots of talking or questions. I just let him take it all in on his terms. My strategy must have worked because I heard him tell someone that this was his favorite place we went to in New York. Smiles from this Art Mama.

“In the beginning, it’s more important for them to simply know the paintings. In the same way we do with worthy books, we let the artist tell his own story without our interference telling the child what to think about it. We trust a picture to say what the artist wanted via the medium the artist chose. In art, just like in everything else, we eliminate the middleman and let the work speak for itself.”
Charlotte Mason, volume 6. (CM Series in Modern English)

Gray Weather Grand Jatte. Georges Seurat. 1886-1888.
Gray Weather Grand Jatte. Georges Seurat. 1886-1888.

It is impossible to share the colors of the Seurat paintings in photos. I talked about it in our De Young Museum visit and it held true with this visit to the Met. You can’t imagine the genius of the use of color in a Seurat painting until you see it up close with your own eyeballs. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Woman Rocking a Cradle-Augustine Roulin. Vincent Van Gogh.
Woman Rocking a Cradle-Augustine Roulin. Vincent Van Gogh. 1889

Then there was my old friend Vincent Van Gogh. There were so many Van Gogh paintings at the Met that I was overwhelmed. This one though was my favorite. There is just something about it that touched me. Maybe it is the color, the pose, or the flowers….again Van Gogh surprises me with the way his painting seems so whimsical when I know in real life he was a mess. Such a contrast between his heart and his reality.

Mada Primavesi. Gustav Klimt. 1912.
Mada Primavesi. Gustav Klimt. 1912.

This is another painting that surprised me! This is a Gustav Klimt and it just felt like I should own this one and have it on my wall at home. It was so “me”. Again, I think it is the color choice, the background, and the pose.

2 young girls at the piano renoir
Two Young Girls at the Piano. Pierre Auguste Renoir. 1892.

This was the painting that took my breath away. In real life it is strikingly beautiful. I was standing and admiring it and I whispered under my breath something like, “I really like this painting.” I was just talking to myself and then I heard a voice whisper behind me, “I do too.” It was an older gentleman who had been standing and sharing the moment with me. It was a nice connection with a perfect stranger. Art does that though….we all seem to be touched by different things but when you share a love of art or a specific painting, you feel rather human.

“Art is a thing of the spirit, and we need to teach it in ways that affect the spirit. We realize that the ability to appreciate art and interpret it is as universal to all people as intelligence, or imagination, or the ability to form words to communicate. But that ability needs to be educated.”
Charlotte Mason, volume 6. (CM Series in Modern English)

 

figures on the beach renoir
Figures on the Beach. Pierre Auguste Renoir. 1890.

Here is another of the many Renoir paintings they had on display. I have seen this one a hundred times in books and on websites but seeing it in person is a completely different experience.

Renoir’s brushes painted this painting. He stood right where I was standing to create this artwork, capturing a moment in time for me to enjoy over a hundred years later. How awesome is that?

There are so many other things I could share with you but those are some of the highlights of my adventure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Believe me, I restrained myself from sharing too many of my images but you can be assured that I will be including them in future blog entries and in my Harmony Fine Arts supplemental information.

top of the rock NYC
Top of the Rock, New York City.

We left the Met a full six hours later. This is not something I would recommend with younger children…an hour at most would have been the limit. But, my boys are in their late teens and have an interest in art and history so with two snack breaks and a lunch break in the cafe, we were able to stretch our time out to take in as much as possible.

We had one more attraction on our City Pass to try so we braved the bus from the Met to Rockefeller Center. Here we rode the elevator up to the Top of the Rock. This was a great experience and the weather was perfect for viewing the surrounding areas. We had already been to the Empire State Building but both my boys enjoyed the Top of the Rock more than that.

Top of the Rock Central Park
Here is the landscape looking back towards Central Park. We sat for a long time on the top of the building and just soaked in the view of New York City. None of us is what we would call “city people” but from up here in the sky, the city doesn’t seem so intimidating. There was a beautiful sky, a vast green park, lots of water, and a nice fresh breeze. Not so bad up here on the top of the world.

We were headed back home the next day so we took our subway train to Penn Station, the New Jersey Rail Train back to Newark and then packed up to leave for home.

I am not sure if I will ever get back to the Metropolitan Museum of Art but we made the most of the time we were able to spend there on this trip. From the simple and humble beginnings of picture study in our family, this week by week learning of artists and their works has grown in us the heart of an art lover. Our appreciation and connection with the spirit of the artist is a gift we will cherish our entire life. Making the connections even deeper by visiting the actual paintings at the Met seems to have been a natural progression…these were real people with real lives and they left us their legacy to respect and appreciate.

We had a fantastic adventure to New York but it feels good to be back at home away from the hustle and noise of the city.

You may be interested in reading my post: Tips for a Family Visit to the Art Museum.
You may also be interested in this post:
Homeschool Art Appreciation – Charlotte Mason High School Examples Part One.

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