It’s hard to deny the gravitational pull of an empty museum. The same impulse that spawned important cultural reference points like The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Night at the Museum lured our extended team of editors, writers and photographers to the museum before opening hours this past Tuesday, September 1, as part of chief digital officer Sree Sreenivasan’s #EmptyMet tour series. We convened at the museum’s main entrance at 8:30 a.m. for an hour-and-a-half-long tour spanning the museum’s more popular attractions including the Temple of Dendur, 17 Van Goghs and that Greek sculpture that you may have read about on the front page of the Times in 2002 after it fell, shattered and got secretly reassembled before returning on display. Some of us curated our own food- and drink-centric tours (it’s all about the housewares in case you’re wondering) while hustling to follow Sree through more than a mile of the museum’s permanent collection. Others listened intently to our guide and at least a couple of us took “sphinxies” (sphinx plus, well, you do the math).
— Brian Halweil (@BrianHalweil) September 5, 2015
Now should be the time when we tell you how to sign up for your own #EmptyMet tour, but they’re by invitation only for the time being and will soon be up for a high-dollar purchase. The Met was also not exactly “empty” — we toured as hundreds of staff arrived and assumed their normal workday spent dusting sarcophaguses and monitoring rambling visitors. With pay-as-you-want admission, though, the Met remains one of the city’s most accessible cultural institutions. And if you think you’ve been there, done that, then consider revisiting the museum with new eyes by taking our recommended tour.
Until your next visit, here are a few favorite recent Met moments: