08 February 2015

Night at the Museum

One of my favourite books when I was a little girl was From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, the story of siblings Claudia and Jamie Kincaid who run away to live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Monday night I was able to experience my own version of sorts when I attended an after-hours Instameet at the museum sponsored by the Met and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The evening began with cocktails and a chance to meet some fellow instagrammers. After that we were given a tour of the museum by the Met’s Chief Digital Officer Sree Sreenivasan. He was a perfect guide, pointing out some of his favourite pieces and relaying amusing anecdotes about various works. Everywhere we went cameras snapped away, capturing the art, selfies, and each other. There was even a group photo taken in the American Wing Courtyard of everyone lying on the ground.

 "Colossal Seated Statue of Amenhotep III, Reinscribed by Merneptah" (ca. 1390–1353 B.C.). Photo by Michele.

"The Temple of Dendur" (completed by 10 B.C.). Photo by Michele.

"The American Wing Courtyard." Photo by Michele
"Nydia, the Blind Flower Girl of Pompeii" Randolph Rogers (carved 1959). Photo by Michele.

"Adam" Tullio Lombardo (ca. 1490-95). Take a good look. Once he's placed 
in his new niche later this year, you'll only get a front view. Photo by Michele.

"Marble portrait bust of the Empress Sabina" Roman (ca. A.D. 122-128).
Being in the museum at night with such a small group of people was exciting. Besides the bonus of not having to deal with crowds and their accompanying noise, there was the opportunity to see the museum literally in a different light. With no natural light and the electric ones dimmed (at least they seemed that way), shadows appeared and pieces took on a different look. During the day the Sackler Wing, home of the Temple of Dendur and the “Nile," is normally flooded with light from a glass wall but at night in the dark the place becomes more mysterious: the temple seems larger than usual, the "Nile" murkier
(next time they should turn the overheads off completely and have lit torches at the temple entrance—just a suggestion). And I couldn't help but think that being in the Roman Sculpture Court, one of my new favourite spots in the museum, might be a bit unnerving if you were there alone at night (too many empty eyes staring at you). 

Going to an instameet and exploring the museum after dark are two things I'd love to do again. Thank you to the Met and Bloomberg Philanthropies for hosting such a wonderful event.

To see the museum at night, try visiting on Friday or Saturday evenings when the Met stays open until 9 pm. You may not get a private tour but the crowds will be thinner. And to find out what’s going on at the Met, download their new app here.

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