Thursday, November 13, 2008

Museum Highlights

On my second day at the Met, a solo visit, I decided to take a "Museum Highlights" tour — to better acquaint myself with the museum as a whole, and because I haven't been on one of the tours before. We started off in the Greek and Roman Sculpture galleries and then covered the Arts of Africa, Oceania and Australia, followed by Modern Art, European Decorative Arts, and finally European Painting. The tour provided new information about works I had seen but didn't know much about and also pointed out several I hadn't previously focused on.

The most interesting objects were Slit Drums from Melanesia (pictured far left, below). These are some of the largest musical instruments in the world, 10-15 feet tall by my estimate. They are traditionally used to communicate between tribes across miles of land and sometimes sea. I had seen them before, but didn't take the time to read about them and discover their remarkable purpose!

I even came across places in the museum I hadn't been to before. Our tour guide pointed out that the south wall of Petrie Court was actually the original exterior of the building before the museum's first expansion shortly after it opened. The facing wall was intended to complement the arches and brick façade and to serve as a background for European sculpture. Its simpler but elegant style is modeled after the Palace at Versailles, according to the tour guide. I look forward to the day that I have become familiar with every square foot of the museum — this will take a while, I know, especially with new exhibitions and renovations in progress — but for now, it is always exciting to see more works and a new corner of the museum.


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