Metropolitan Museum of Art

Located in Central Park, with over two million square feet of exhibition space at its Central Park flagship, collections encompassing every period of history, and now spanning three locations, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met), is the largest museum in the U.S.  The collection of the museum has artifacts in it such as a medieval hall of armor, baseball cards, Tiffany lamps, a paintings collection that is world class, and an Egyptian temple.  The museum is also the setting for one of my favorite books from the fourth grade, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

The main museum campus opened its doors in 1872 further down Fifth Avenue from its current location.  The current location was built in 1880, and was added onto over several years (the original building is actually encased by its additions—look for the red walls while inside of the museum).  Over the years it has greatly expanded to encompass a large super block between 79th and 86th Streets on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

A trip to the Met can encompass an entire day.  Check out the temporary exhibits (which change every few months), which are done well and always stunning.  The Hall of Armor is always a crowd pleaser as is the reconstructed Ancient Egyptian Temple of Dendur (reconstructed in the northern edge of the museum).  If you are there in the summer, the roof deck offers a stunning view of Central Park and has an installation on it.  As I am a big fan of modern art myself, while not the MoMA or the Whitney, the Met can hold its own with regard to its collection of 19th and 20th century art.

If you somehow have more time after a day of gallery cruising at the Fifth Avenue location, your admission will allow you to enter another Met affiliate (such as the Cloisters in Upper Manhattan or the Met Breuer in the Upper East Side) for free the same day.  There is almost no way that you can see the entire collection in one sitting.  Plan ahead with the art and artifacts you want to see in mind.  If it is raining outside, rest assured that most tourists and locals from the Upper East Side will be in the main location of the Met with you.  This is the type of information you will learn on a Sights by Sam tour.