I treasure my time in art museums of all types, but the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (The Met) is my favorite. I first entered The Great Hall, the majestic main entrance of The Met, almost three decades ago. Since then, I have spent countless hours in the galleries. When I started writing The Primal Key, I knew I wanted The Met to feature prominently in the book, and ensured a few of my favorite galleries and pieces of the collection would play a critical role in Anne and Alex’s development. Today, I’m going to highlight Anne’s first visit to The Met and share some images of what she saw. Unlike my leisurely tour, Anne’s rushed visit was under duress. However, The Met still managed to beguile her.
Anne loves art and, for years, pleaded with her mom to take her to The Met, but events—mostly caused by Alex—derailed her attempts. She planned a grand entrance, climbing the three tiers of stairs leading to The Great Hall. Instead, one of Grandmother’s spies pushes Anne through a metal door and forces her to spend a cramped night sleeping in a small office beneath the magnificent galleries. In the morning her cousin Emma, also employed by Grandmother, leads her out of the office space, past the center for education, and up the stairway leading to the Greek art galleries. It is here that Anne gets her first “real” impression of The Met. Despite her predicament, a huge marble column fascinates her.
Anne strides into the next gallery and its splendor stuns her. Light streams from skylights in the barrel-vaulted ceiling, illuminating the twice-life-size marble and bronze statues, athletes and warriors. As she wanders through the exhibit, the charm slowly fades. She doesn’t understand why, but the statues in their varying degrees of ruin, sadden her. Anne turns to a display case filled with terracotta jars. A lump forms in her throat when she looks at the first jar. She recognizes Theseus slaying the Minotaur, a myth she despises.
Her musing about the myth is disrupted when a man in the main hall yells, “Watch it!” Lamia, Seth’s top agent, and her men arrive and Anne instinctively runs. Emma guides her into the Great Hall (so no time for enjoying that grand entrance) and whisks her around the people lined up to buy tickets. At the base of the Great Stairs, they veer left into a narrow gallery. Abruptly, Emma stops, facing an open, stone door.
Anne glances at the stone lions guarding the arched door. She peers through to the other side. The gallery containing ivory statues and stained glass windows appears innocent enough. Emma nudges her forward. As Anne passes through the door toward the checkered, black-and-white tile floor and the exhibits beyond, she hears ringing like wind chimes during a storm. Her skin prickles and her teeth chatter. She tries to retreat, but the lights brighten, blurring everything. Her breath catches, squeezed tight in her lungs. Then the light fades and her adventure begins.
I’ve been asked, “What is your favorite wing at The Met?” I don’t have a simple answer. I’ve yet to find an exhibit I didn’t like. Every time I visit The Met, I add another “favorite item in the collection” to my list. Although the collection is amazing, the space itself is my favorite part of the museum. The interior design artists out-did themselves. I love how the galleries’ layout, even the windows and doors, invite you to explore. My favorite door is the doorway from the Church of San Nicolò. The door’s bright, light marble, frames a darker gallery with a stained glass window on the far wall. Such an enticing view pulls me forward. Below are pictures of other doors and windows I enjoy when visiting The Met.
Second floor entrance into Gallery 534: Patio from the Castle of Vélez Blanco.
Peaking through Gallery 242 into 240 to see the shadow of Shiva as Lord of Dance.
The Spanish choir screen from the Valladolid cathedral in Gallery 305.
The entrance to the Tomb of Perneb in Gallery 100.
The window in Gallery 690 that looks down on the European Sculpture.
I hope your travels soon take you to The Met.