As they continue to explore their new home this semester, students in Hamilton’s Program in New York City recently took a tour of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Following are impressions of the museum as told by Jen Lengvarsky ’16.
We scrambled to find each other in the crowded lobby of the enormous Metropolitan Museum of Art. After dodging tourists, we huddled together as our tour guide explained that she was going to give us a “tasting” of the wide range of art and exhibits the Met holds.
The tour began in the Roman sculpture room. The ceiling of windows and the statues and busts spread out all over the room invoked the look of a courtyard straight out of Rome. We circled around a sculpture of the Aphrodite’s Three Graces, who were positioned as if they were doing some sort of line dance. The tour guide emphasized the naturalism of the piece which she had us keep in the back of our minds as we entered the Oceania room.
The piece she showed us was called a “stilt god,” which was actually a giant percussion instrument with human features that looked anything but natural. The wood was carved to show enlarged eyes and a nose with the rest of the body, where the sound was released, acting as the mouth or tongue.
Next, we entered the African room to see a more modern piece by El Anatsui. It was draped as though it was a piece of cloth with parts jutting out a little more than others. Upon close inspection we saw this “cloth” was made up of flattened out liquor bottle caps connected to each other. Apparently, El Anatsui himself came to the museum to hang it in the right way that would make it look cloth-like.
Traveling back in time, we examined a gorgeous stained glass window in the Medieval Gallery, walked around an exact replica of the Sir John Dashwood's dining room, and noticed Johannes Verneer’s mastery of capturing light in his paintings.
Emma Teach ’16 and I couldn’t help but hang back while walking past so many beautiful European painting but we caught up in time to see the famous and ever-so-patriotic “Washington Crosses the Delaware” painting by Emanuel Leutze. Of course, we all had to gather in front for a group photo because, well... America.
In the American portraits room, we approached a painting of a woman so pale, she would have been invisible walking around Clinton on a snowy day. She is known as Madame X and her portrait was apparently one of great scandal. Released at the Paris Salon, everyone in attendance was shocked to see this woman with rouge on her face and the strap of her dress draping off her shoulder. I suppose they've never been to Hamilton’s Rocky Horror Party or else they'd forgive her for her bare arms.
We ended the tour at the Temple of Dendur. We were all very focused on the fact that staff was setting up chairs, tables and drinks since there was an event happening there later in the night. All of were wondering what it takes to get invited to a party in Egypt.
After our museum “tasting,” some headed out to prepare for class but a few of us couldn’t resist taking one last walk through the Italian paintings wing.