Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s earliest roots date back to 1866 in Paris, France, when a group of Americans agreed to create a national institution and gallery of art to bring art and art education to the American people. The lawyer John Jay, who proposed the idea, swiftly moved forward with the project upon his return to the United States from France. Under Jay’s presidency, the Union League Club in New York rallied civic leaders, businessmen, artists, art collectors, and philanthropists to the cause. On April 13, 1870, The Metropolitan Museum of Art was incorporated, opening to the public in the Dodworth Building at 681 Fifth Avenue. On November 20 of that same year, the Museum acquired its first object, a Roman sarcophagus. (Read more about this historic acquisition.) In 1871, 174 European paintings, including works by Anthony van Dyck, Nicolas Poussin, and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, entered the collection.

On March 30, 1880, after a brief move to the Douglas Mansion at 128 West 14th Street, the Museum opened to the public at its current site on Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street. The architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould designed the initial Ruskinian Gothic structure, the west facade of which is still visible in the Robert Lehman Wing. The building has since expanded greatly, and the various additionsbuilt as early as 1888now completely surround the original structure.

The Museum’s collections continued to grow throughout the rest of the nineteenth century. The 187476 purchase of the Cesnola Collection of Cypriot artworks dating from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman periodhelped to establish the Met’s reputation as a major repository of classical antiquities. When the American painter John Kensett died in 1872, thirty-eight of his canvases came to the Museum, and in 1889, the Museum acquired two works by douard Manet.

Place Categories: Art MuseumPlace Tags: illustration, paintings, Photography, printmaking and sculptures

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