The Metropolitan Museum of Art's old masters have new digs.
On December 12, the Met opened about two dozen galleries dedicated to old master paintings (like Caravaggio, Goya, Peter Paul Rubens, Jean Antoine Houdon, Jan van Eyck) with new skylights—marking the half-way point of a four-year construction project to reintroduce all 45 galleries for European Paintings, 1250–1800.
This is the first time visitors to the museum can see the 21 renovated galleries and more than 500 works that are now enhanced by the natural light from the new skylights, according to the Met. This project began in April 2018 and the first phase 27 galleries on the second floor were closed. The second phase, replacing the roof and skylights over the remaining adjacent suite of galleries, will finish up in spring 2022.
The skylights (above Galleries 600-644) were actually constructed in 1939 and remodeled in 1952 and are made of 30,000 square feet of glass and a louver system that admits natural overhead light into the galleries. To replace and upgrade the windows and roof as well as the HVAC systems will be done across two phases over about four years.
The newly opened galleries themselves include The Met's newest exhibition, A New Look at Old Masters, where you can expect the following:
- Italian and Spanish paintings of the 17th century showing the impact of Italian art throughout Catholic Europe;
- Paintings showing the ways in which painters used classical mythology and the Bible in their works in the Baroque gallery;
- Still life and genre painting from the 16th and 17th centuries, including the work of two female painters;
- An overview of oil sketches between the 16th and 18th centuries;
- Painters from the north in dialogue with their contemporaries from the south, from Jan van Eyck and Filippo Lippi to Albrecht Dürer and Giovanni Bellini;
- Various approaches to expressing identity, featuring artists from Rubens and Anthony van Dyck to Diego Velázquez and Charles Le Brun;
- 18th-century French expression; François Boucher and the decorative arts; and the role of female artists;
- The Met's unique collection of French Neoclassical painting, including a portrait of the Lavoisiers by Jacques-Louis David and the sculptured busts of Denis Diderot and Voltaire by Jean Antoine Houdon.
- A New Look at Old Masters, which is a prelude to the final, extensive reinstallation of the European paintings galleries, 1250–1800 (Galleries 600–644), will take place after the project is completed.
You can catch these paintings and more through Spring 2022.
In addition to these newly installed galleries, you also can find old master paintings in the exhibition In Praise of Painting: Dutch Masterpieces at The Met in the Robert Lehman Wing with paintings by El Greco and in Making The Met, 1870–2020 (on view through January 3, 2021).
Reserve your timed tickets online at metmuseum.org.
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