Monday, February 8, 2016

Fresh flowers in the Great Hall , Metropolitan Museum of Art

The gorgeous, enormous flower arrangements in the Great Hall  in   the Metropolitan Museum of Art intrigue  and amaze   visitors. They are so big!  And spectacular!  Every week  bouquets   in  four large niches carved from the central piers, as well as the centrally located Information Desk  are refreshed. This wonderful tradition started in 1969 when the late Lila Acheson Wallace 1969  established a permanent fund to ensure that fresh flowers would always be on display.

December 2015
June 2014
Lila and her husband DeWitt were one of the most influential husband-and-wife teams in mid-20th century. DeWitt and  Lila  married in 1922, in Pleasanton, New York, the future home of Reader’s Digest. They decided to start the magazine themselves. Working out of a basement in Manhattan, the couple published their first issue of Readers Digest  in February 1922, with an initial run of 1,500 copies. By the end of the 20th century the magazine had the largest circulation of any publication in the world.

Lila’s philanthropic impulses were oriented more toward the arts.  For 12 years, she served as a trustee of the Juilliard School to which she donated money to construct a library.
One of her major interests was the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She donated money to Metropolitan museum and  in 1983, its rich collection of Egyptian art went on permanent display in 32 galleries named in her honor.
June 2015


While the Museum’s Great Hall was being restored, she came in once a week to monitor the progress. When the hall was completed, she established a permanent fund for fresh flowers in the hall.  She said it gave her great pleasure to ensure that the Great Hall would always include “living beauty.”
The flowers are now designed by the museum’s in-house floral artist, Remco van Vliet.    Remco Van Vliet  is a third generation Dutch florist.  
Mr. van Vliet's father, who had a shop that often worked for the Dutch royal family, trained his sons. Upon moving to New York City 25 years ago, Remco spent 6 years working with Chris Giftos, event pioneer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, before being given the prestigious opportunity to become his successor.

March 2014
Chris Giftos went to work for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the early 1970s and did arrangements for the museum's special events, working with New York society.

He was in charge of escorting Princess Diana for the opening of the Christian Dior exhibit at the museum in 1996. He worked with first ladies such as Bess Truman, Jacqueline Kennedy and Pat Nixon and did the floral arrangements for a luncheon for Ronald Reagan's second presidential inauguration.
Giftos also created the Elizabeth Taylor's wedding bouquet of yellow freesias.

October 2014 
Remco Van Vliet and his half brother, Cas Trap, company  Van Vliet & Trap now    has the contract to create event designs for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the New York Philharmonic. The brothers' dream is to spread a northern European floral sensibility the way French couturiers revolutionized fashion in the 1940s. "We want to show people that they shouldn't be intimidated by flowers, that having living things in your house isn't just a luxury. Its crucial," says Trap.

September 2014




For 10 years, artist Abbie Zabar had a ritual: go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and sketch the new floral arrangements adorning the entrance hall. Selections from her Flowers in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art series were on view at Wave Hill in the Bronx last summer. 


Abbie Zabar , 1994 Flowers


Abbie Zabar , 1997 Flowers