My favorite parts of The Met are the decorative arts exhibits and the modern/contemporary art exhibits. I did take the time to peek around the African Art exhibit today - I saw some really cool African textile pieces.
I have a thing for the Art Deco and Art Nouveau movements, so I was really excited to see some decorative objects from those eras; jewelry, textiles, and a really cool cigarette holder! I'm not a smoker, but if I were I would definitely have a chic cigarette case! There was this really, really gorgeous ceramic fireplace surround. It was super-intricate with very rich, deep color tones. I imagine that it cost a huge fortune to create. If only I had an interior design client daring (and wealthy!!) enough to choose something like this!
Another favorite gem was this really small, blink-and-you-miss-it Fabergé exhibit. I was really excited to see a Fabergé Lily of the Valley piece - it is absolutely perfect for a branding project I'm working on for a client!
When you enter the American Wing atrium, there's a facade of a grand Federal house. I'd never seen this part of the Met before so I curiously wandered in, and it happened to be the best part! All American decorative arts exhibits from the past 250 years. The Haverhill Room was a favorite. I was really excited and intrigued by how contemporary some of these 200-year-old furniture pieces and details look.
Then I got to the Shaker room. Woof. Going from an overload of gorgeous textiles, ornate draping, gilded accessories, and fine finishes to the Shaker room was a totally startling contrast. This room was large but austere - it felt cold and frankly, pretty depressing. The Shakers were very religious and eschewed any sort of decoration or ornament to their furniture and surroundings. Their furniture was for practical use only - it was all very well made and quite innovative, but it wasn't designed to be interesting or pretty. I got the feeling that I would be a TERRIBLE Shaker!
Honestly, I skipped most of the European painting exhibits. I got pretty tired, and was more drawn to the unique and interesting contemporary gallery than the huge European portraits and still life paintings.
The contemporary gallery at The Met is a nice little sampling - obviously nowhere near as expansive or interesting as MOMA's, which is about 30 blocks south on 53rd Street (if you go to MOMA, walk to Momofoku Ma Peche for a drink - see if they still have the Apple Bottom!). It wasn't until an art history class in college that I started to "get" contemporary art, and now it's fun to learn about it and appreciate it. Julian Lethbridge's large-scale oil painting was my favorite in this entire gallery - inspired by another favorite artist, Piet Mondrian, and so gorgeously full of life and textures.
All-in-all it was a great little afternoon spent at the museum, and I look forward to going back to explore it more!