Friday, December 5, 2008

Astor Court at Night

On Friday and Saturdays, the Met is open until 9pm — definitely an advantage to busy New Yorkers. Tonight I just popped in for a nice and quiet visit to the most relaxing space in the Asian Wing — the Chinese Garden, Astor Court.

A unique feature of the Asian galleries is the Astor Court, modeled on a Ming dynasty (1368-1644) scholar's courtyard in the Garden of the Master of the Fishing Nets in Suzhou, a city west of Shanghai famous for its garden architecture.

A gift of the Vincent Astor Foundation, the garden court, which opened to the public in 1981, includes an adjoining hall for the Museum's collection of Chinese hardwood furniture.


Beautiful during the day, Astor Court is strikingly so at night, when its features are illuminated by the illusion of moonlight and dramatic shadows dance on the walls. The windows, each with a different geometric pattern, shine a brilliant white and the green plants glow behind them.

The trickle of a tiny waterfall fills the air with its calming sound and one cannot avoid being transported to a state outside of the frenetic existence that is New York City. Indeed, the plaque over the moongate at the entrance reads: "In Search of Quietude." I think a Friday night is the perfect time to enjoy the peace of Astor Court after a long week.

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