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Gavin Aug 24th, 2008 06:20 PM

NYC Museum Questions
We are arriving in New York next Friday afternoon and departing at 8:30 PM the following Tuesday. One of our priorities this visit is to go to the Metropolitan Museum and to MoMA. I have seen comments about museums being especially crowded this summer and am wondering when the best time to visit these two is? I expect the Tuesday would be the best choice for the more crowded of the two.

mp Aug 24th, 2008 07:09 PM

As Monday, Sept. 1 is a Monday holiday, the Met will be open (it's usually closed on Mondays). I suggest you go first thing in the morning, if you want to avoid crowds.

MOMA will be crowded, but not too bad on Tuesday AM - if you're there at opening, you shouldn't have to wait more than 10 minutes or so . . . go straight up to the top floor and work your way down, unless there is a specific collection you want to see, then go there first.

mp Aug 25th, 2008 04:06 AM

Whoops - sorry I forgot MOMA is closed on Tuesdays - maybe a visit first thing Sunday morning, 8/31? Shouldn't be too crowded then, either . . .

doug_stallings Aug 25th, 2008 04:58 AM

Gavin has very limited time, so a first-thing-in-the-morning arrival will be best for all the museums. Weekends are the most crowded times, so I think a Monday visit to the Met would be a good idea, and probably Saturday for MOMA. It seems to me that almost all New Yorker are on vacation for the last two weeks in August. Midtown was weirdly quiet on Friday afternoon, and I was able to get a reservation at Eleven Madison Park last Friday evening with just 3 days notice.

This strategy won't work for Gavin, but I've been thinking about the best time to visit MOMA, and I actually think the best time might be on a Friday afternoon right after lunch. MOMA offers free admission on Friday evenings starting at 4pm, so my theory is that attendance will taper off significantly for those people not interested in shelling out $20 starting Friday afternoon. The trick is to arrive by 1pm and get in and out of the museum by 4. So I figure Friday at 1pm might be the best of all possible arrival times. I'd love for someone to test this theory to see if it holds true.

Gavin Aug 25th, 2008 02:17 PM

Whoops, indeed! I had also missed MoMA being closed on Tuesday. I guess that answers my question; go to the Met on Tuesday morning and stay there until we have had our fill or the 8:30 PM flight time impinges.

How are the small museums, the Frick Collection in particular, for crowds?


yk Aug 25th, 2008 02:53 PM

The Frick doesn't usually get too crowded, unless it's got a blockbuster exhibition.

FYI, Frick admission on Sunday 11a-1p is "pay as you wish".

doug_stallings Aug 26th, 2008 05:17 AM

The Frick is the best small museum in New York and my absolute favorite. If you are going to MOMA, I would have no hesitation is saying skip the Met and go to the Frick (I know you won't do that, but I still think it's a better use of your limited time). It has a collection that consists almost exclusively of masterpieces and is a great way to see a lot of fine art in a short period of time. It can be crowded, but the best feature is that the audio tour is included, and it's very good. The gardens are lovely as well.

HowardR Aug 26th, 2008 10:54 AM

I'll have to disagree with Doug when he says that the Frick is a better use of your limited time than the Met.
To me, nothing can compete with the Met when it comes to museum time in NYC no matter how much or how little time you have.
Sure, the Frick is a marvelous experience, but it's not the Met!

Gavin Aug 26th, 2008 02:27 PM

Does anyone have an opinion about how the Met compares to the Louvre, National Gallery (London) or the British Museum? We have visited each of these institutions many times. What are the Met's strengths compared to its peers across the pond?

HowardR Aug 26th, 2008 03:48 PM

Where does one start? It 's one of the world's great museums and certainly at least on a par with the ones you've mentioned.
To start:
It has one of the finest Impressionists collections in the world. Then, there's the Egyptian wing, with the Temple of Dendur and a lot more.
I'll let others continue the list....

janie Aug 26th, 2008 06:08 PM

I'm with Howard on this one. The Frick is special, but the Met is magnificent. If you love Vermeers--go to the Frick. But for most museum-loving visitors, the Met has it all.
Of the museums on your list,I would compare it most to the Louvre in its all-inclusiveness combined with the extraordinarily high calibre of the collections. It's rare to have a single museum that has some of the best modern art and the best impressionist art, and the best Greek and Roman art, and the best medieval art, etc etc. Throw in some Frank Lloyd Wright rooms, a couple of Asian-inspired gardens and courtyards, a roof with oversized sculpture. The Lehman collection is a relatively hidden part of the museum that often seems quiet to me. Can you tell I love the place? ;)

As far as crowds--the Met is really never empty but it's a huge place with a really big lobby with many ticket booths. Unless you are going for a particular major show, once you get past security at the entrance, it will not take very to pay and be on your way.
MoMA's lobby configuration is very different and it's is more of an ordeal to get in , check bags, pay etc. Although it's very big by museum standards, it's dwarfed by the Met. MoMA has fewer "must sees" for most visitors, so those get really crowded. I can only imagine what it will look like this fall when there's a Van Gogh exhibit!

mp Aug 26th, 2008 06:26 PM

yes, I agree w/ janie and Howard - although I don't think MOMA is that much of a big deal to enter. I've been to all of the museums you're comparing several times and the Met is the equal to or superior than all of them, particularly in the last few years with the new galleries. The newly renovated Greek and Roman Galleries are spectacular - achingly beautiful. The temple of Dendur, the 20th Century collection, the Arms and Armor and the Oceanic galleries - all wonderful, deep and one could easily spend 2 hours in each. I think Janie's comment is apt - if you must see Vermeers, then head to the Frick. If you want to survey one of the top 5 art museums in the world, visit the Met.

doug_stallings Aug 26th, 2008 07:08 PM

What the Met does that none of hte other great museums of the world are unable to do is to display all periods and styles of art. The Louvre stops at the 18th Century. The British Museum has no paintings. THe National Gallery in London doesn't have an extensive collection of Egyptian, Roman, and Greek art, much less a great collection of American art (or modern art). And the Met has that all under one roof. It's not the best in all areas, but it's strong in all areas.

But when I recommend visiting the Frick, I do it because when you have only 2 or 3 days, you have to limit your time. I can only take 2 or maybe 3 hours in any museum at one stretch. IN that kind of time, I can see every important painting in the Frick and listen to the audio commentaries. I can't do that in the Met. But you have to decide what interests you. The Frick is more than just Vermeers, but it has no contemporary, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Medieval art, etc. etc. It's a perfect but limited collection. And for me the perfect museum-going experience.

But I think Gavin just wants to see the Met, and all art lovers would, so I can hardly disagree with that sentiment. I do hope you'll have a great time.

The only thing I'd come back to again and again ... please repeat: AVOID THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING AT ALL COSTS. That's my new mantra. That and Tavern on the Green. :-)

gb944 Aug 26th, 2008 07:13 PM

I'm afraid I have to cast my vote for the Met.

I have been there (literally) fifteen times during the past year, each time spending at least two hours. Each time I have visited I have come across something I haven't seen before, or see something again as if for the first time.

The only other museum that I have seen that comes close is the Louvre.

Get there early and get to the elevator to the rooftop and see the Koons exhibit without the crowds. I was there early one Sunday morning and there were three people on the roof, myself included.

Gavin Aug 27th, 2008 05:26 PM

Thanks again for the insights and passion. My last question was not about choosing between the Frick and the Met. The Met is going to happen and so most likely will the Frick. I am looking for information that will help plan our strategy. When I go to the Louvre I know what I am getting into, what we have seen before and what remains to be seen or "needs" to be seen again; the Met is fresh ground.

I used Google Earth to compare the footprint of my "benchmark" museums to the Met. This made me realize that it is more Louvre than National Gallery in terms of size.

Doug don't worry about the ESB. Six years ago we walked towards it and admired it as we approached. We went into the lobby and thought "this is cool we are in the Empire State Building". Then we left to see other things. The Top of the Rock is on our list this time.

yk Aug 27th, 2008 05:35 PM

Obviously, if you have a special interest (be it Egyptian, or Greek vases, or Italian Renaissance paintings), go to that section first.

If you don't have any particular preference, I highly recommend you start with the free docent guided tour. One of the tour is the "Highlights" tour and the docent will lead you thru the museum and point out the significant pieces of artwork. After the tour, you can then freely wander on your own.

Don't forget to visit the rooftop.

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