Summertime at The Met

Ah, summertime. Barbecues, rooftop patios, outdoor fun… and much-needed reprieves in air-conditioned spaces. The refreshing cool air is one excuse to check out The Met, but we’ve got three other reasons why you should plan to visit one of the world’s greatest art museums this summer.

1. The exhibit Apollo Magazine has suggested “may well be the exhibition of the year.”

Lost Kingdoms, which runs through July 27, will give you a whole new respect for sculptors who lived and worked between 400-700 CE in Southeast Asia. These were the early days of Hinduism and Buddhism, and newly invigorated members of these religions poured themselves into awe-inspiring tributes to and interpretations of their newfound spirituality. The collection includes many artworks that have parted with their native countries for the first time since they were made. 

A sandstone sculpture of Buddha originating in Thailand depicts the smooth-faced god with a striking expression of omniscience embedded in his brow, just-shut eyes and subtle smile. It’s the type of sculpture you could marvel at for hours, hoping to unlock some secret or revelation lurking beneath its surface. Artistic achievement aside, this and many works like it shed light on cultures and kingdoms that still remain largely in the shadows. 

Image from The Met's web site: Buddha (detail). Provenance unknown, central Thailand, first half of the 7th century. Sandstone; H. 67 3/8 in. National Museum, Bangkok

2. Serious inspiration for sprucing up your handwriting 

Calligraphy connoisseurs of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties of China made art out of the written word. Out of Character, an exhibit open through August 17, captures some of the best works to emerge from this time, place and craft. From a Buddhist sutra (scripture), to a defense of the Great Wall by a Ming general, to more recent 19th century works from “Epigraphic School” masters, there are many exquisitely transcribed pieces to ogle. This exhibit may just inspire you to revamp your own signature! 

Image from The Met's web site: Wen Peng (1498–1573). The Thousand-Character Classic (detail) in clerical script, dated 1561. Album of 85 double leaves; ink on paper. Courtesy Guanyuan Shanzhuang Collection

3. Victorian painters wearing their hearts on their canvases

If you were an artist working in the second half of the nineteenth century, you may have felt a bit stifled. The schools of the day were teaching art by the letter of a subdued and stoic law. But a group of British artists known as the Pre-Raphaelites rebelled and rendered subjects with raw emotion in vibrant colors.

The mediums in the Pre-Raphaelites exhibit range from paintings and drawings, to textile arts, to applied art forms like furniture. One of the dream-like paintings in the exhibits, The Love Song, by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, captures a tender wistfulness in his subjects’ eyes with the sweeping emotion of their Austrian contemporary Gustav Klimt.

Image from The Met's web site: Sir Edward Burne-Jones (British, 1833–1898). The Love Song, 1868–77. Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Alfred N. Punnett Endowment Fund, 1947 (47.26)

Taking in the exhibits at The Met has a downside: it may leave you craving the therapeutic, refreshing, thought-provoking effects of a visit more often.

Here’s your solution: a daily art fix with the 365 Days in the Met calendar or The Met’s Page-A-Day Gallery Calendar. It’s how we keep our eyes attuned to the beautiful, creative artwork that transcends day-to-day routines. Elevate yourself from the quotidian every single day!

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