The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Occupying 13 acres of Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which opened in 1880, is impressive in terms both of quality and scale. Added in 1895 by McKim, Mead and White, the neoclassical facade is daunting. However, the museum is surprisingly easy to negotiate, particularly if you come early on a weekday and avoid the crowds. In the ground floor’s north wing sits the collection of Egyptian art and the glass-walled atrium housing the Temple of Dendur, moved en masse from its original Nile-side setting and now overlooking a reflective pool. Antiquity is also well represented in the southern wing of the ground floor by the halls housing Greek and Roman art, which reopened in 2007 after receiving an elegant makeover. Turning west brings you to the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas collection; it was donated by Nelson Rockefeller as a memorial to his son Michael, who disappeared while visiting New Guinea in 1961. A wider-ranging bequest, the two-story Robert Lehman Wing, can be found at the western end of the floor. This eclectic collection is housed in a re-creation of his townhouse and features Bellini’s masterful Madonna and Child. Rounding out the ground-floor highlights is the American Wing on the northwest corner. Its Engelhard Court reopened in spring 2009 as part of the wing’s current revamp. Now more a sculpture court than an interior garden, it houses large-scale 19th-century works in bronze and marble—and one of its three fountains is by Tiffany.