- Project Name
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Project Types
- Project Scope
- 2,000,000 sq. feet
- Year Completed
- Shared by
- Miabelle Salzano
- Project Status
FROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Master planning for the museum, which began in 1967, involved extensive review of existing conditions and the development of a comprehensive plan for its completion—galleries, curatorial and administrative spaces, work rooms and storage, together with circulation systems that would permit ready access to the many different collections. All of this had to be done while respecting a magnificent existing structure and keeping the unaffected sections open for normal use.
The museum had originally been thought of as a “Building in the Park.” The first entrances were on the Park side. When Richard Morris Hunt built the Great Hall in 1903, he reoriented the museum onto Fifth Avenue with a very formal classical facade appropriate for Fifth Avenue. Subsequent additions by McKim, Mead and White completed the Fifth Avenue facade and turned the corner on the north and south sides. Rather than carry that formal architecture into the Park, the master plan is an architecture more like the kind of building one would expect to find in a park, such as a greenhouse in a botanical garden. The inevitable result is a quick transition between the classical and the garden architecture. The precedent for this exists in the Botanical Garden on the Mall in Washington, DC, where the formal masonry building has a glass greenhouse attached to it.
The first phase was the redesign of the space in front of the museum, to create an urban plaza with appropriately-scaled and terraced steps up to the entry into the restored Great Hall. This entry axis is reinforced by the addition of the Lehman Pavilion on the west side, with its skylighted court as a terminus.
The master plan responds to the need for large galleries by adding the Sackler Wing for the Temple of Dendur to the north, and the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, with the Andre Meyer Galleries above, to the south. The adjacent corners are completed by the respective additions of the new American Wing and the Wallace Galleries for Twentieth Century Art.
The areas between these wings and the existing museum are left as skylighted courts, or relief spaces—the American Wing Garden Court with the restored 1822 Assay Office Building facade on the north, and on the south an interior street for European Garden Sculpture that preserves the existing 1888 facade. These relief spaces afford the visitor a chance to rest from the intensity of gallery viewing.
The new additions maintain the high ceilings characteristic of the Metropolitan, while the proportions of the galleries vary according to the works displayed, often with natural light from extensive skylights.
The close working relationship between architect and client for over 40 years has produced one of the world’s great museums.