The Met's New American Wing Can Change One's View Of The Country
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a major makeover of the American Wing is complete and it might just change the way one sees American art and history. NY1's Arts reporter Stephanie Simon filed the following report.
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It was cheers for these new American Art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Thursday. But American Art didn't always get an enthusiastic reception at the Met, especially back when it was founded in the late 1800s.
"There was a kind of cultural prejudice, I think, on the part of many that European art was the elite art form," says Metropolitan Museum of Art Director and CEO Thomas Campbell. "But I think in galleries like these you see the great achievements of 18th, 19th and 20th century American artists. So our visitors can judge for themselves."
Congresswoman Maloney by a painting of what is now Yosemite National Park
Now with 26 newly renovated galleries inside the American Wing, it's easier than ever to view and enjoy the art. The space is bigger and brighter, and instead of just being chronological, viewers can follow movements like folk art or the Hudson River School painters.
Walking through the new galleries, viewers really do connect one to the other thematically, and the tour of art history also becomes a tour of American history.
"This particular painting is important to me as a Congress member because it was among the paintings taken to Congress to show the members of Congress and the Senate about the beauty of the West," says Manhattan-Queens Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney about her favorite canvas. "And it helped spur the creation of the National Parks System, to protect the beauty of America as displayed in this painting."
Today the stunning place depicted in the painting is known as "Yosemite National Park." One can also find in the American Wing our Founding Fathers, early cowboys and more.
Sarah Goodridge's daring 1828 self-portrait
"Almost all of the 17,000 items in this collection are on display now. It really is quite a revelation. You may think you know American Art, I think a lot of people are going to be in for surprises," says New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin.
Even the idea of "the bust" is seen a new light. Among the portrait miniatures is a daring self-portrait by artist Sarah Goodridge, who gave the image of her bare breasts to her lover in 1828. It all makes for a very "revealing" look at American Art.