The Metropolitan Museum of Art hid thousands of paintings from visitors for 5 years and now will finally show them to the public
For the past five years, dozens of European art galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art have remained closed while museum staff restored skylights and carefully preserved centuries-old works of art. Now, after years of effort, 45 galleries are reopening to showcase famous works in vibrant detail and bathed in natural light, Time Out reports.
“Look Again: European Paintings 1300–1800” features more than 700 works of art, including works by Rembrandt, Caravaggio and Poussin, the largest collection of 17th-century Dutch art in North America, and the largest collections of El Greco and Goya outside Spain. . The official opening of the galleries will take place on Monday, November 20th.
Modernization and reinvention
According to museum director Max Hollein, the reconstruction was “an important milestone in the history of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” In addition, the project was the largest infrastructure update in the history of the museum, requiring a budget of $150 million.
Construction crews replaced 2,800 sq. meters of light openings, which were first installed in 1939 and last modernized in 1952. According to Hollein, the upgrades have improved the quality of lighting in the galleries, increased energy efficiency and created ideal conditions for the paintings on display.
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The closure of the galleries, he explained, provided “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to completely rethink the presentation of a much-loved collection.” The staff rearranged each exhibit, organizing the display in chronological order, rather than by individual schools or countries. The bright paint on the walls, 3,500 liters of paint to be exact, helps reinforce the chronological sequence.
In restructuring the galleries, curators focused on women artists and the class, race, gender and religious histories of the works. In addition, sculpture and decorative arts have been added to the halls, as well as contemporary works that echo works of the past. For example, you will see paintings by Dutch masters in dialogue with the works of contemporary artist Kerry James Marshall.
In a new light
According to curator of European painting Stefan Volokhozian, natural light penetrates through the glass panels. “The magnificent effect of natural light on the paintings in the gallery can be fully appreciated,” he said.
Inside the galleries, the rooms are designated by sections: portrait, sacred art and landscape. The restoration and lighting make each painting truly shine. The black overcoat in Rembrandt’s painting looks almost velvety, the eyes of the woman in Caravaggio’s painting almost glow, and the rich ruby tones of Baroque painting are dazzling.
These galleries feature some of the most beloved works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, bringing these centuries-old works to life in a new light.