Thursday, November 13, 2014

Metropolitan Museum of Art: unfinished facade and a new plaza

New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the largest museums in the world. There are  more than 2 million pieces of art, including  renowned paintings,   porcelain, musical instruments, historical artifacts, costumes and even armaments.  More than 6 million people visited the museum in 2013.  
Museum opened in 1880. Facade and Great Hall, designed by the architect Richard Morris Hunt, opened to the public in December 1902.  Hunt designed the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and many Fifth Avenue mansions, that were later demolished, and founded both the American Institute of Architects and the Municipal Art Society. Richard Morris Hunt died before construction of the museum  began, and his son carried out the design almost to his specifications.  
 In Hunt’s original design, the four pairs of columns had to be topped by sculpture groups representing  four great periods of art: Egyptian, Greek, Renaissance and Modern.  Between each pair of columns there is a niche where Hunt intended to set a copy of one great work from each historical era.
But these plans were never  realized -  money ran out, the blocks went unfinished, and the niches are still empty.

During last two years the  museum's Beaux-Arts Fifth Avenue facade  was hidden behind  the blue plywood.   Two years ago billionaire industrialist and Metropolitan Museum of Art Trustee David Koch  contributed the entire $65 million cost of the project.
 With an estimated net worth of $41.9 billion, David Koch is the sixth-richest person in the world. In 2008, the David H. Koch Foundation gave $100 million to preserve and renovate the Lincoln Center's State Theater of New York, now known as the David H. Koch Theater. It houses the New York City Ballet.  This gift of  $20,000,000 established the David H. Koch Dinosaur Wing in the American Museum of Natural History.  A cancer survivor, Koch donated  $100 million  to the  Integrative Cancer Research at Koch's alma mater, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

The new plaza opened to the public  on  September  10 this year.  David H. Koch said: “The new plaza is something that will not only beautify the Metropolitan Museum, but also Fifth Avenue and the entire neighborhood, by creating a welcoming, warm, and vibrant open space that the public can enjoy. Although the Met is best known for its magnificent art collections, inspiring architecture, and interior grand spaces, the OLIN-designed plaza will also make the exterior of the Met a masterpiece.”

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Museum, said: "Finally, more than a century after the completion of the Met's grand Fifth Avenue facade, and more than forty years after its last plaza renovation, the Museum has created a truly welcoming point of entry, a cityscape that is environmentally friendly and that will please our visitors as they come to experience the unparalleled breadth of masterpieces on display inside. Rather than finding the complexity of the project daunting—from the hauling of granite for new fountains and paving stones, to the planting of trees and the installation of hundreds of LED lights, on an area roughly the equivalent size of three football fields—David Koch recognized its significance, embraced it, and made it happen."

You can find the name of the contributor,  David Koch, on the base of fountains.