The Metropolitan Museum of Art's four-block-long building, located in Central Park, functions as a time capsule, preserving hundreds of thousands of paintings, sculptures, and artifacts that collectively demonstrate mankind's finest achievements. Founded in 1870 to bring fine art closer to the general public, the Museum has since become a means of exploring worldwide cultures through art.
With more than 400 galleries open to the public, seeing all the Museum has to offer is more of a lifetime achievement than an afternoon commitment. Paintings by preeminent artists such as Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh draw huge crowds, but unexpected treasures await those willing to dig deeper. One collection of galleries features the world?s most comprehensive collection of American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. Another, equally compelling?and newly reopened?collection is devoted to intricate Islamic artwork from as far westward as Spain and Morocco and as far eastward as Central Asia and India. It's also impossible to overlook the galleries of Egyptian art and its approximately 26,000 artifacts, making it the largest collection of its kind outside Cairo.
The Met?s collection is so expansive that it cannot fit entirely in its Fifth Avenue location. Travel to Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan, and you'll find the Museum's collection of reassembled cloisters, which opened to the public in 1938. These beautiful medieval structures currently house around 2,000 manuscripts, tapestries, and stained-glass artworks largely dating from the 12th century through the 15th century. Three of the cloisters even feature gardens planted in accordance with medieval tradition.