Museums - Metropolitan Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10028
Friday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sunday, Tuesday – Thursday, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.; Closed January 1, Thanksgiving, and December 25.
Museum hours are subject to change. Please contact museum before visiting to confirm the information listed is correct.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the most notable museums in the United States. Founded in 1870, it was established in its landmark Upper East Side building in 1880. Among its vast and varied holdings are more than 11,000 objects from sub-Saharan Africa; the Pacific Islands; and North, Central, and South America; which are overseen by a single curatorial department. Strengths of the collection include decorative and ceremonial objects from the Court of Benin in Nigeria; sculpture from West and Central Africa; sculpture in wood from New Guinea and the island groups of Melanesia and Polynesia; and objects of gold, ceramic, and stone from the pre-Columbian cultures of Mexico and Central and South America; which includes the Jan Mitchell Treasury for Pre-Columbian Works of Art in Gold that opened in the South American Gallery in 1993 and is the most comprehensive display of American gold objects in the world. Major donors to the collection include Nelson A. Rockefeller, Lester Wunderman, Mr. and Mrs. Klaus Perls (a recent gift of more than 100 Benin works), Fred and Rita Richman, Nathan Cummings, Jan Mitchell, Arthur M. Bullowa, and Jane Costello Goldberg.
Although the Met made its first acquisitions in this field—a group of Peruvian antiquities—as early as 1882, no significant commitment to the arts of Africa, Oceania, or the Americas was made until 1969. At that time, Nelson A. Rockefeller offered the Met the entire collection of a museum that he had founded in 1954 in association with René d’Harnoncourt, the Museum of Primitive Art. Included in the gift were 3,300 works of art, a specialized library, and a photographic collection. As part of the acceptance of this collection, a separate department for the care, study, and exhibition of these works and study materials was established.
Today the collection of the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas is housed in the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, named for Nelson Rockefeller’s son, who collected many of the Asmat objects from Irian Jaya that are now in the museum. Among the most spectacular objects in the wing are nine fifteen-foot-high Asmat memorial poles (bis) collected by Michael Rockefeller during an expedition to New Guinea in 1961. The Rockefeller Wing, designed as a mirror image of the Sackler Wing, opened to the public in February 1982 with 40,000 square feet of exhibition space on the south side of the museum. The Oceanic Gallery is currently undergoing renovation and will be closed until 2006.
Temporary exhibitions organized by the department are held in the Rockefeller Wing’s special exhibition space. The department’s Robert Goldwater Library (named for the first director of Nelson Rockefeller’s Museum of Primitive Art) and Photograph Study Collection are open to researchers. The Photograph Study Collection also mounts temporary photography exhibitions in the wing’s east mezzanine.
Tribal art Exhibition
The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s holdings of the artistic traditions of sub-Saharan Africa, the Pacific Islands, and the Americas are today regarded as canonical. They constitute such an integral part of the institution that few realize their inclusion is the result of the vision and sustained efforts of a uniquely influential figure in both American political life and the New York art scene: Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (1908–1979). This fall the Metropolitan Museum of Art celebrates that legacy with The Nelson A. Rockefeller Vision: In Pursuit of “the Best” in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas that will be on view from October 7, 2013, through October 5, 2014.