Saturday, March 19, 2016

don't go to nyc on st. paddy's (the met)

the metropolitan museum of art, also known as I fully intended to take snarky snapchat pictures of art with silly captions but I ended up nerding out and being genuinely absorbed instead of sarcastic whoops.

we took our time getting into the city, since it had turned out to be such a long day being there from approximately 10:30am to 8:42pm... which in retrospect, we shouldn't have?  in planning our visits around the weather, we had overlooked the fact that thursday was st. patrick's day...  so, on the train at an unfortunate stop only halfway into our journey, we were descended upon by a plague of drunk sorority girls.  and when I say "we took our time," I only mean "we left at 10:19am" so it was still very much too early for that kind of noise.

we survived the trip (barely), forging the impenetrable bond of solidarity that can only be formed between silent, suffering, sober people in close quarters with...non-silent, non-suffering, non-sober people nearby.  one woman got off the train before penn station and looked at the rest of us in the car and mouthed, "good luck!" as she bolted.  

but then we were free!  and we muddled through way too many people on the sidewalks for way too long, but the sun was shining and the little bands in their tour buses were disembarking in preparation for the parade, and when we finally reached central park, the herd thinned somewhat.  

a walk through/along the park brought us to the met, which is beautiful inside and out, and there was absolutely zero wait time, and we got our tickets and headed on in there.  (once again, admission is suggested-price and you can choose what to give.)

I don't have a huge amount of experience with art museums, but I consider nelson atkins a very good egg.  the met is even more enjoyable.  in particular, I'm a big fan of the way they've taken entire rooms/chapels/what have you and installed them into the museum, with backlit (at times, stained-glass) windows and cordoned walkways that let you stand in  the room and get the full experience.  

my favorite section is definitely european paintings, 1250-1800, on the second floor.  there were so many icons that just took me right back to my honors community days.  

my brother's favorite section - I take the liberty of assuming by virtue of the fact he stayed there most of the time - was the arms and armor section on the first floor.  the architecture, lighting, ambiance...presentation of everything in the museum is really stunning.  I don't know if you can tell by these pictures how much I appreciated the huge facades, the complete transplanted patios, the naturally-lit atria involved.  

this courtyard in the american wing (also first floor) was my favorite place to sit for awhile and try to subtly eat a pretzel hidden in my sleeve.  inside the "house" they had reconstructed entire rooms of incredible old furniture and decor.  

I think all in all, we spent maybe three hours wandering.  after the hour-long walk from penn (through the middle of the park to avoid crowds), we were already pretty tired.  

it's a very quiet, peaceful place, with lots of room to sit or stand and ponder, and excellent little blurbs on all the plaques that are lots of fun to read.  (in the picture below, the lady in the gold dress in the mid-left painting was described as being "of great beauty...but easy virtue..." for example.)

in the end, I returned to the european paintings and spent a lot of time with reynolds and lawrence, which was extremely pleasant.  after that, we sat on the big steps in the sun for a bit.  the crowds had dissolved, and later on, as we sat in a starbucks, it rained a little.  by the time we walked back to the train station, the streets were nearly empty, with mostly doormen standing around amiably or hosing down front walks, people walking dogs and/or children on scooters, and central park carriage horses snorting feed at pigeons. 

we got dinner near times square on our way out, and met the nicest, most polite and appreciative, most absolutely hammered canadian on the train home.  he asked to sit with us, and a few minutes later, turns to us and says, "I'm sorry, excuse me, is this the train to...long...island?"  

well.  yes.  I mean, yes it is.

when he got off, the guy in front of us said "track eight, buddy!  oyster bay!" and the canadian said, "yeah man! the bay! that's right!" and the guy said to us, "20% chance he makes it there." he was a very nice guy, and all he wanted was to dunk his head in a sink of ice water.  "big sink, lots of ice...weird thing to want, I know, man, right?"  I hope he made it home okay, because he was extraordinarily good-natured and very amusing.  

all right!  that's all of my nyc scoop for this week.  next weekend there will be a trip to hamilton grange, so stay tuned for that.  in the meantime, however, we'll be back to our usual (quiet, nerdy, predominantly houseplant) programming.