The Metropolitan Museum of Art deserves its spot as the most popular attraction in New York City: a stylish building full of culture and “wow” moments, a rooftop bar and so much to see you’ll keep coming back and finding something new.
Located on Fifth Avenue inside Central Park, the museum affectionately known as The Met saw a record high 7.35 million visitors come through during its 2017-18 season. The Met has also been named Best Museum in the World by TripAdvisor members for a third year in a row, a first for any attraction ranked on the travel site.
But how well do know the most popular attraction in New York City? Here’s everything you need to know about The Met.
When did the Metropolitan Museum of Art open?
The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of businessmen and artists who wanted to create a hub for art and education. Its iconic Gothic Revival-style building on Fifth Avenue holds a collection that spans 5,000 years of art from around the world.
True art lovers will also want to set aside time for the Met’s two offshoots: the Met Breuer, which mixes The Met’s collection with modern and contemporary artists, and The Cloisters, a tranquil converted monastery dedicated to the art, architecture and gardens of medieval Europe.
What are the most popular attractions at The Met?
The Met’s 17 permanent galleries hold all kinds of treasures, from Japanese samurai armor to a custom-built African mural. Here’s our pick of everything you must see at the Metropolitan Museum of Art:
The Temple of Dendur and William the Blue Hippo: The only intact Egyptian temple in America, it was gifted by Egypt in 1978 and is the highlight of The Met’s collection of Egyptian art, considered the finest outside of Cairo. The Egyptian Wing also has a mascot: William the Blue Hippo, estimated to be over 4,000 years old. Galleries 111, 115 and 131
Washington Crossing the Delaware: German artist Emanuel Leutze’s iconic image of George Washington during the Revolutionary War hangs in the massive American Wing, where visitors can walk through 20 period-style rooms recreating life in America.
Arms and Armor Galleries: The only gallery in America of the weapons, tools and clothing of war from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and America. Gallery 371
Islamic Art: The most comprehensive in the world, with over 12,000 objects dating from the seventh to the 20th centuries. Gallery 461
Van Gogh: The Met has 17 of the master’s works, part of the one of the world’s largest collections of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art including Picasso, Monet, Cézanne and more. Galleries 822-826
Johannes Vermeer: Only 36 works by the Dutch master of light Vermeer are known to have survived, and The Met has five of them. Gallery 632
Cantor Rooftop: The Met boasts a bar and a major annual exhibit during the summer on its seasonal rooftop, which has some of the most spectacular views in the city. Open May to October
In addition to The Met’s permanent collection of priceless relics from around the world, it’s worth timing your visit to the museum’s spectacular limited time exhibits. Recent shows have included treasures never before seen outside of China to a display of Michelangelo’s work drawn from 50 private and public collections, to the current Heavenly Bodies exhibit of Catholicism-influenced fashion.
How to visit the Met
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located at 1000 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. You’ll need a full day if you want to have any hope of seeing everything. The museum is open seven days a week, Sunday-Thursday 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Friday/Saturday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., and closes only on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Tickets to The Met are $25; children under 12 are free. The Met had a longtime pay-what-you-wish ticket policy that was discontinued for tourists in March 2018. Admission remains free for New Yorkers, as the museum is partially funded by the city.