Today I was awake enough to go and attempt the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s something that I’ve wanted to see since I learned that they had an enormous Egyptian wing. As you guys obviously know by now, I’m a big fan of ancient Egypt so there was no way I’d miss out on this opportunity! But once I got in the doors, I was overwhelmed. The museum is even bigger than I’d thought so I decided to head to the Greco-Roman wing first, thinking I’d hit the Egyptian section later. Wrong! I got to the museum at 11:00 and left at 5:00 and that was barely enough time to appreciate everything in that wing from the Romans, Greeks and Etruscans.
One of the things I was constantly and consistently amazed by was the quality of metal work displayed in the early Greek civilization. I believe these are some Minoan or Cretan gold fragments and they’re even more impressive up close. The beautiful amount of detail the ancients managed on these tiny little gold pieces is fabulous. Later on their gold work gets even more intricate but even in their early civilization they created just amazing works of art.
One of the things I really, really loved was the Greek pottery. This is totally new to me but my fascination started after I watched Ian Worthington’s Great Course on ancient Greece where he explained the different pottery techniques. The blacks, the reds and even the whites on the pottery are all from special cooking and glazing techniques. Then a painter would etch the designs into the vase. As time goes on, the figures on the vases become more and more lifelike, less stiff and out of proportion. I particularly liked trying to pick out which myth many of the vases featured.
This here is a statue that the Romans identified as Alexander the Great. Another of the things I really loved about the museum was seeing the faces of people I’ve read and learned so much about. It was amazing to stare at Hadrian’s bust and see both the pride, excitement and dignity on that bearded face. I looked at Marcus Aurelius with his tired eyes and serious face and his co-emperor and partying adoptive brother Lucius Verus’ happy, exceptionally handsome face. I just don’t have the words!
In the back of the Greek exhibit, kind of off to one side is the Hellenistic Treasury room. It’s quiet because not a lot of people go there but some of the most fabulous Greek treasures from the Hellenistic period reside there. There are also currently some fabulous Roman treasures on loan from Italy. This drinking horn in the shape of a deer’s head is beautiful in this photograph, but extremely humbling in real life. Human hands made something that beautiful and delicate! And they did it in the first to third century A.D. Isn’t that just amazing?
So essentially that’s all I saw at the museum today. I’m definitely going back on Saturday to see the Egyptian exhibit properly and then I want to see the European art section in addition to finishing up the arms & armour section. I didn’t get many pictures there because I was so exhausted by then, but next update I’ll have some fabulous pictures of the elaborate armour I found there.