The Metropolitan Museum of Art is, aside from its special fashion exhibits, not very cool or trendy or terribly edgy. It’s traditional and pretty corporate, in fact, and is basically the polar opposite of DIY art shows like Hanksy’s “Best of the Worst.” But the Met is still my favorite art museum in New York, for nerd reasons.

Definitely not the Met. Skate ramp at “Best of the Worst,” a show I liked a hell of a lot.

The Met is incredibly comprehensive. The sheer amount you can learn in one day is awesome and you STILL would have to come back to see it all because the place is huge. My husband and I have visited the Met approximately a million times and today, for the first time, my husband and I saw the courtyard and fountain at the back of the 1st floor’s west side. Bunch of Renoirs and other paintings there. We only found it because we were looking for “Fashion and Virtue: Textile Patterns and the Print Revolution, 1520–1620” (January 10 is the last day!).

Russian dress, early 20th century.
Totally want to be friends with this lady so she can lend me this dress. That print!
Near the courtyard on the 1st floor. The painting is, I mean. The man with the cane has probably moved on.

The variety of art is fantastic, too. Right now, you can see exhibits on things like carved jades, European timepieces, the personal style of Countess Jacqueline de Ribes, small-scale models of buildings from ancient American civilizations that were placed in important ancient Americans’ tombs, Fabergé eggs, Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #370, a baseball card collection with cards dating from 1887 to 1959, and wooden masks used in Hindu temple dramas.

A few of the Countess’ gowns.
Uttara Rama Charitra, The Assembly of Rama
Rape of Proserpina via Pluto. I’m glad your fucking planet got downgraded.
Don’t make fun of this guy’s fingers. He’ll hurt you with those fingers.
People really love their freaking dogs.
The backside of a lion.
Super clear hieroglyphics.
The Temple of Dendur at night.

Look at all the everyday objects you take for granted on your desk or in your office. Stuff like pens, trash cans, pushpins, mouse pads, desk toys, business cards. There’s tons of equivalent stuff from ancient cultures at the Met. Just ordinary junk that people who used them every single day immediately abandoned without a second thought when the invaders from the north moseyed into town or whatever. Some of these items aren’t terribly eye-catching in an “art museum,” their ordinariness plainly obvious, their fiscal worth lying in their rarity and historical significance. But they are beautiful and meaningful because they show us what people made and used in order to live. Which reminds me that since our tiniest, cheapest possessions have usefulness to us, they are beautiful and meaningful, too. I appreciate these historical ties across time and space to people of the past—who were actual human beings who breathed and walked and fought and died—and this focus on history makes the Met one of my favorite places in the city.

Tea for one, tea for thirteen.
Tiny things.
Cosmetic boxes. Based on my own vast collection of beauty products, there’s probably a trillion of these buried all over Egypt.

I really love Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s Ugolino and His Sons. I always want to visit Ugolino whenever I go.

Buggin’. Out.

Ugolino della Gherardesca was an Italian nobleman who was imprisoned in a tower in Pisa with his sons and grandsons as punishment for treason. The keys were thrown in the river and they starved to death. In his Inferno, Dante imagined Ugolino’s offspring begging him to eat them since he was the one who gave them life in the first place: basically, they acknowledged that he brought them into this world and he can take them out of it. Or so Dante said. Anyway, it’s one of my favorites mostly because of its context: there are plenty of appropriate places for this sculpture in such a ginormous museum, but Ugolino and his brood are situated steps away from the Petrie Court Café. It’s a morbid and kinda fucked up choice, and also a little subversive. I truly appreciate whoever at the Met thought to do it.

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