One of the largest art museums in the world, the Met is one of the city's supreme cultural institutions. Its permanent collection of nearly 3 million works of art from all over the world includes objects from the Paleolithic era to modern times - an assemblage whose quality and range make this one of the world's greatest museums. Founded in 1870, the Met first opened its doors 10 years, on March 30, 1880, but the original Victorian Gothic redbrick building by Calvert Vaux has since been encased in other architecture, which in turn has been encased in other architecture. The majestic 5th Avenue facade, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, was built in 1902 of gray Indiana limestone.
The 5th Avenue entrance leads into the Great Hall, a soaring neoclassical chamber that has designated a landmark. Past the admission booth, a wide marble staircase leads up to the European paintings galleries, whose 2,500 works include Botticelli's The Last Communion of St.Jerome, El Greco's View of Toledo, Rembrandt's Aristotle with a Bust of Homer. The arcaded European Sculpture Court includes Auguste Rodin's massive bronze The Burghers of Calais.
The American Wing, in the northwest corner, is the best approached from the first floor, where you enter through a refreshingly light and airy garden court graced with Tiffany stained-glass windows, cast-iron staircases by Louise Sullivan, and a marble Federal-style facade taken from Wall Street branch of the United States Bank. Take the elevator to the third floor and begin working your way down through the rooms decorated in period furniture - everything from a Shaker retiring room to Federal-era ballroom to the living room of Frank Lloyd Wright house- and the excellent galleries of American painting.
In the Metropolitan Museum you can also see the Greek galleries, Roman galleries, Egyptian collection, Asian galleries, the Medieval galleries and much more.
Although it exhibits roughly only a quarter of its vast holdings at any one time, the Met offers more than can reasonably be seen in one visit. The best advice for tackling the museum is to focus on two to four sections and know that, somewhere, there's an empty exhibit that just might be more rewarding than the one you can't see due to the crowds.