The Metropolitan Museum of Art – or the Met – is one of the world’s most famous art museums, containing a world-class collection of art from ancient to contemporary times.
The Met’s permanent collection is always on view, and visitors can take a trip through time by walking through the architecturally impressive rooms. Surrounded by the stunning location of Central Park, the Met is both easy to access and majestic to behold.
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Tips for Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art
Make a plan: The Met is large, and is easy to get lost in. If you’re trying to take in the whole place in one visit, start with one of the side wings (Greco-Roman off to the left, or Egyptian off to the right.) Not only will this lead you through to other rooms, but you’ll also get to experience a historical timeline of cultural production from around the world.
Stick around: The Met makes it easy for visitors to stay for an extended period of time, so don’t try and rush through. You’ll probably need 3-5 hours just to see the permanent collection, so take advantage of the many resting spots – found in just about every room – which can give your feet a break and let you take in the surrounding atmosphere.
Download the app: The Met’s app is a handy way to make sure you see everything you want to without having to worry about pulling out your map every few steps. You can also access the audio tour for free on a smartphone by visiting the museum’s site and clicking on “audio guide.” Visitors can still rent devices at the museum if they wish.
See the Cloisters: Further uptown, the Cloisters is all about the art and architecture of Medieval Europe. When you purchase a ticket to the Met you’ll also be able to visit the Cloisters on the same day.
Find the restrooms: It’s easy to find yourself in an area without restrooms, so keep this in mind when starting out.
Children under 12 receive free admission.
Save at the store: Show your New York Explorer Pass to save $10 off a purchase of $50 or more at The Met Store and to save $1 on the Audio Tour.
Best Times to Visit
Weekends are always a busy time for NYC museums, so if you can, try and visit the Met during the week to cut down on crowds.
For a special treat, on Friday and Saturday evenings the Met serves cocktails with light snacks and live music on the Great Hall Balcony Bar, which overlooks the majestic lobby entrance.
Every year the Met installs a new work by a contemporary artist on the rooftop, which during the warmer months provides incredible views of Central Park, Midtown, and Upper Manhattan. Visitors during these seasons will have access to a rooftop cafe and bar.
What You Should Bring
- Camera: You’ll see some of the world’s most famous works of art, from ancient times to the Renaissance to modern masters. There are ample opportunities for memorable photos, particularly with interactive exhibitions like the Temple of Dendur. Keep in mind the Met won’t let you use selfie sticks, so bring a friend if you’re looking to document your trip in portraits.
- A bottle of water: You can’t bring outside food and drink into the museum, but you can bring bottles of water. You’ll be spending a lot of time inside, so you’ll appreciate not having to track down a water fountain.
- A sketch pad: For the creatively inclined, sitting in one of the galleries and sketching the artwork can be a truly unique way to remember your trip. The Met frowns on materials that can make a mess or potentially harm the artwork (no pens), and asks visitors to do their drawing with pencil and paper.
- Not much else: With the Met’s security procedures, you won’t be able to bring much else with you. Visitors with backpacks or large bags will be required to check them, although purses are okay to be carried around. You’re better off leaving large items to avoid the long bag check lines.
What to Do There
Here are a few of our favorite highlights to check out during your visit.
Greek and Roman Art
Here visitors can take in ancient Greek and Roman pottery, sculptures, and artifacts like jewelry and furniture.
In addition to the paintings, sculptures, and jewelry of the ancient Egyptians, the Met also houses the Temple of Dendur, a structure dating to before 10 BC.
The Sackler Wing, the new home of the Temple, has an incredible installation with an indoor river, trees, and other related elements.
Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas
This area covers an extensive history of tribal cultures from around the world. Visitors can view ancient artifacts like masks, ritual accessories, and a significant amount of textile work.
This is a huge area of the museum, as it contains examples of work from all over Asia, including China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, and spans all the way back to ancient times.
There are also recent examples of contemporary Asian artists.
This section of the Met recently reopened after extensive renovations, and it a world-class example of Islamic works from throughout history.
The Met’s collection is home to a number of medieval pieces of art, both religious and secular in nature.
For those who want an extra dose of the era, a visit to the Met’s uptown Cloisters will be memorable for history buffs.
European Sculpture and Decorative Art
For those looking for classic examples of Renaissance sculptures, this wing is home to famous sculptors such as Rodin and Bernini.
Visitors can also experience rooms that are dedicated to certain periods and styles, fully furnished in their original manner.
European Paintings, 1250-1800
Whether you are an art lover or not, the Met’s European paintings wing contains some of the world’s most recognizable artworks and artists from history.
Rembrandt, Vermeer, Botticelli and others are represented in these strikingly designed rooms.
European Paintings and Sculpture, 19th-e. 20th century
To continue through Europe’s art history, more recent masters such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Degas, and Matisse – amongst others – are represented in this area.
Some of the most famous artists, such as Monet and Cézanne, have their own galleries dedicated to solo presentations of their work.
The American Wing
These rooms pay homage to American artwork, design, and architecture spanning from the 17th century to the early 20th century.
These areas are sure to delight people of all ages, as there are a range of historical and traditional instruments presented from all over the world.
Modern and Contemporary Art
While the Met’s galleries are home to important artwork throughout history, they also have a wing dedicated to modern and contemporary works (they’ll be expanding this program even further into the nearby Breuer building, the old home of the Whitney).
Visitors can see masterpieces by Dalí, Pollock and Warhol, and works by contemporary artists such as Kiki Smith and George Condo.
If you visit during the summer, be sure to head up to the roof to take in views of the park and a rotating installation by contemporary artists.
The Costume Institute
The Met’s annual celebrity-filled gala supports the Costume Institute, which brings temporary exhibits celebrating some of the world’s most important historical and contemporary fashion.
Items from the permanent collection are also displayed throughout the year, and include pieces dating back to the 15th century.
Uptown Manhattan is home to some of New York’s top cultural destinations, and visitors can easily find access to nearby attractions.
American Museum of Natural History: To take in even more history, a walk through Central Park will put visitors right at the Museum of Natural History, one of New York’s most famous landmarks.
Guggenheim Museum: If you haven’t seen enough art after the Met, a trip to nearby Guggenheim can give you a totally different experience of contemporary art. Housed in a landmark structure designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, visitors can walk the museum’s circular path to see exquisite examples of contemporary works.
New York Historical Society: Also an easy walk or cab ride through the park, the Historical Society has great exhibits focused on New York’s unique history.
Places to Eat Nearby
There are three dining areas in the Museum itself, as well as the seasonal café on the rooftop during the summer.
However, there are also a number of places to eat close to the Museum.
Grazie (Italian) 26 East 84th Street For diners looking for a sit-down meal outside of the museum, Grazie is a favorite for locals, and their brunch is one of the Upper East Side’s best.
Nectar Café (Diner) 1090 Madison Ave For a more casual option, Nectar gives a classic New York diner experience, with ample offerings for breakfast and lunch.
Le Pain Quotidien (Café) 1131 Madison Ave Whether you’re looking for a quick snack, a coffee boost before or after the museum, or just want some light fare, Le Pain Quotidien always has a selection of pastries, salads, and sandwiches, and visitors can decide whether to take the items to go or to stay.
Need to Know
Main Building Hours
- Sunday–Thursday, 10:00 am–5:30 pm;
- Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am–9:00 pm
- Galleries are cleared 15 minutes before closing
- Closing: Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and the first Monday in May
Directions & Address
1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street
New York, NY 10024
Driving: From Lake Shore Drive, exit at 18th Street. Follow Museum Campus Drive around Soldier Field. Signs will indicate visitor parking. Shedd Aquarium is just north of the parking garage and the Field Museum.
Public Transportation: 4, 5 or 6 trains to 86th Street and walk three blocks west to Fifth Avenue; From the West Side take the 1, B or C trains to 86th Street, then the M86 crosstown bus across Central Park to Fifth Avenue.
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