At NY Met, European masters can be seen in a new light

Published November 21, 2023
A visitor looks over paintings during a press preview at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.—AFP
A visitor looks over paintings during a press preview at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.—AFP

NEW YORK: Five centuries of European painting can be seen in a new light, thanks to a five-year, $150 million renovation at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The bold redo of the museum’s massive wing devoted to masters from the 14th to 19th century includes a range of improvements, including to the section’s skylights.

More than 700 Dutch, Flemish, French, Italian, Spanish and English masterpieces — by artists including Johannes Vermeer, Rembrandt, Francisco Goya and El Greco — have been rehung and put back on display on the walls of the 45 galleries of the permanent exhibition “Look Again: European Paintings 1300-1800.” The Met has one of the largest collections of European paintings in the world, according to its director, Max Hollein.

The Austrian art historian leads one of the richest museums on the planet, thanks in large part to its deep-pocketed donors. But the major renovation was vital, especially as the Met has been losing visitors since 2019.

As part of the renovation, all the rooms topped by skylights have been repainted, reorganized chronologically and re-lit.

The aging skylights themselves were also replaced, according to the museum — a move which has “improved the quality of light” and “enhanced the experience of looking at (the) paintings.” The sprawling museum — in Beaux-Arts construction and located on Fifth Avenue on the edge of Central Park — boasts the largest collection outside of Europe of Dutch art from the 17th century, and of Greco and Goya works outside Spain.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023

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