The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is one of the biggest and most beautiful places to see art in America. It’s also insanely popular; tens of thousands of people visit it each day and over 5 million people go to the Met each year.
So when a former editor of mine emailed me a few weeks ago asking if I wanted to go on a private tour of the Met, how could I say no?
After some research, I learned that this was a small program the Met has been doing. You can actually go on social media and see others also alone in the met using the hashtag #EmptyMet. Sounded great to me.
So, early Wednesday morning, I made my way over to the Upper East Side and took in some of the most cherished and well-known art in the world, virtually alone.
Here are some of the highlights of what it’s like to see a usually-packed museum with scant a person in sight.
This is the outside of the Met at 8:20AM. Usually, it is bustling with tourists and locals alike, but at this time, there was hardly anyone there.
The front foyer was completely empty. I've been to the Met more times than I can count and I've never seen it with this few people. You could hear a pin drop. It was actually quite eerie.
Our tour guide was Sree Sreenivasan, the man in the blazer. He is the Met's first Chief Digital Officer. He grew up in Manhattan, and says he always loved going to New York's many museums.
It also has reconstructed pyramids, statues, and even a little body of water acting as a sort of moat, flanked by huge windows letting immense natural light stream in.
Here, too, the natural light was insane. Without throngs of people around, I really got a chance to look at all of the sculptures up close.
Here is Vincent van Gogh's self portrait. It's not on a wall because the artist painted it on a canvas that had another painting on the other side. Van Gogh was very poor at the time he painted it and had to conserve canvas whenever he could.
We got to explore rooms with Monets, Gauguins, and van Goghs, all in total silence. It felt almost like ghosts were among us.
Part of Sree's job is incorporating technology into the museum-going experience. Here, he showed off how the augmented reality app Blippar adds insane animation to van Gogh's 'First Steps, after Millet.' This is the only painting the app works with in the Met, so it's fun little Easter egg to know.
By the time our hour and a half tour ended, people were already lined up to enter the museum. I doubt I'll ever get such an intimate experience again.
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