Skip to main content

Museums As Gyms, Part One: The Met

For the first of my Museums as Gyms series, I must say that the Met, as a fitness center, sets a high bar. This Fifth Avenue art palace features miles of walkable areas, a challenge for even the most athletic of cultural tourists. Walking is stimulating all by itself, and here at the Met, there's also too much to see.

When I was visiting the other day, I overheard several discussions in the Met's cafeteria about whether it was wise to see "just one more exhibit" or move on. I was taking a break myself, scooping out a cup of yogurt and wondering if my strategy of trying to walk through all the Met was completely stupid. "Yes," I told myself, "Art history cannot be compressed in an hour and a half. You are a superficial person. This is idiotic." But I pressed on for another 30 minutes.

According to my pedometer, I clocked 5,500 steps inside the Met, a little over 2.5 miles. In the process I scanned some of the most iconic images of creative human history - Roman statues, medieval altars, Central African reliquaries, Rembrandt's self-portraits, Jackson Pollocks, American Civil War photographs, Federalist furniture, and on and on. All these went by in the blink of an eye. I felt like I had flipped rapidly through most of the pages of an art history textbook, cramming for a final exam.

Artwork in several of the Met galleries stopped me in my tracks, quite literally. I visited the Met in the first place to see the new 19th and early 20th century galleries, and when I arrived in these extraordinary rooms, it was as if the entire 19th century opened like an unfolding accordion. I also stopped and marveled at Tara Donovan's installation - a shimmery patterned display of metallic loops. They looked like snowflakes on a windowpane, echoing designs of an earlier era I had seen elsewhere in the museum.

I can now rationalize that my Met workout was worth it. In walking from one end of the Met to another, I encountered many rooms I had never visited - musical instruments, the pre-Columbian room of gold, the swords and other firearms, and peaceful rooms of Asian art. I especially enjoyed seeing an opulent Venetian bedroom from a palace off the Grand Canal, even if I don't know how to find it easily again. I was so exhausted by that point that I wanted to hurl myself over the barrier and onto the ducal bed.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Museums in New York Open on Mondays

Please see this post for current announcements of reopenings . Please consult the museum websites for changes in days and hours. UPDATED September 23, 2020 Advance tickets required for many museum reopenings. Please check museum websites for details. • The  Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)  reopened to the public on  August 27 , with new hours for the first month, through September 27: from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday to the public; and from 10:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.  on Mondays for MoMA members on ly. Admission will be free to all visitors Tuesday through Sunday, through September 27, made possible by UNIQLO. See this  new post on WOTBA for a sense of the experience attending the museum . •  New-York Historical Society  reopened on  August 14  with an outdoor exhibition, "Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine,” in the rear courtyard. The exhibit by activist Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman will highlight how New Yorkers weathered the quarantine

25 Things To Do Near the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

(updated 2016) The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) at 11 W. 53rd Street is near many other New York City attractions, so before or after a trip to the museum, a short walk in any direction could easily take in additional experiences. Drawing a square on a map with the museum at the center, a shape bounded by 58th Street to the north and 48th Street to the south, with 7th Avenue to the west and Park Avenue to the east, proves the point of the area's cultural richness. (A map follows the list below.) While well-known sightseeing stops fall with these boundaries, most notably Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the great swath of famous Fifth Avenue stores, cultural visitors may also want to check out places such as the Austrian Cultural Forum, the 57th Street galleries, the Onassis Cultural Center, and the Municipal Art Society. The image above shows an intriguing glimpse of the tops of two Beaux-Arts buildings through an opening of the wall inside MoMA's scu

14 Useful Mobile Apps for Walking New York City

Texting and walking at the same time is wrong. Talking on the phone while strolling down the street is wrong. Leaving the sidewalk to stop and consult the information on a cellphone, preferably while alone, is OK. What's on Walking Off the Big Apple's iPhone: A List Walkmeter GPS Walking Stopwatch for Fitness and Weight Loss . While out walking, Walkmeter tracks routes, time, speed, and elevation. This is an excellent app for recording improvised or impromptu strolls, especially with many unplanned detours. The GPS function maps out the actual route. The app keeps a running tally of calories burned while walking, useful for weight loss goals. Another welcome feature is the ability to switch over to other modes of activity, including cycling. An indispensable app for city walkers. $4.99  New York City Compass , designed by Francesco Bertelli, is an elegant compass calibrated for Manhattan, with indications for Uptown, East Side, Downtown, and West Side. While facing a cert

25 Things to Do Near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

(updated) Sitting on the steps in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of those iconic things to do in New York City. On a sunny day, the wide steps can become crowded with the young and old, the tourist and the resident. It's tempting to stay awhile and soak in the sun and the sights. Everyone has reasons for lingering there, with one being the shared pleasure of people watching along this expansive stretch of Fifth Avenue, a painting come to life. Certainly, just getting off one's feet for a moment is welcome, especially if the previous hours involved walking through the entirety of art history from prehistoric to the contemporary. The entrance to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth Avenue The Metropolitan Museum of Art should be a singular pilgrimage, uninterrupted by feeble attempts to take in more exhibitions along Museum Mile. Pity the poor visitor who tries "to do" multiple museum exhibitions in one day, albeit ambitious, noble, and uplift

The Thin Man Walk: A New York Holiday Adventure with Nick and Nora Charles

(Revised) Line up the cocktails. As Nick says, "You see the important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. A Manhattan you shake to foxtrot, a Bronx to two-step time. A dry martini you always shake to waltz time." If ever a couple possessed complementary drinking rhythms, it would have to be Nick and Nora Charles , the much-envied glamorous cocktail-swilling quick-thinking duo of Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man . Inspired by the writer's blossoming affair with playwright Lillian Hellman , the novel, published in January of 1934, motivated MGM to rush a cinematic adaptation into production. The movie, released in late May of 1934, proved popular enough to spawn sequels, foremost because of the stellar chemistry and witty performances of William Powell as Nick and Myrna Loy as Nora. Decades later, many people still search for their own Nick or Nora. Beyond the playful banter, the partying Charleses exude a confident security and ease in their

25 Things to Do Near the American Museum of Natural History

After visiting the American Museum of Natural History, explore attractions on the Upper West Side or in Central Park. Visitors to New York often run around from one major tourist site to the next, sometimes from one side of the city to the other, and in the process, exhaust themselves thoroughly. Ambitious itineraries often include something like coffee in the Village in the morning, lunch near MoMA, a couple of hours in the museum, a ride on the Staten Island Ferry in the afternoon, cocktails at the midtown hotel, a quick dinner, and then a Broadway show. It's a wonder people don't pass out at the theater. While sitting on the steps of the American Museum of History, consider exploring the Upper West Side and nearby sites of interest in Central Park. There's a better way to plan a New York trip. Consider grouping attractions together geographically. Several posts on this site address this recommended approach. The Wild West of the Tecumseh Playground Groupin

Museums in New York Open on Tuesdays

American Folk Art Museum , 45 W. 53rd St. Asia Society and Museum , 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street) Guggenheim Museum , 1071 Fifth Avenue (at 89th St.) Pictured left International Center of Photography , 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street The Metropolitan Museum of Art , 1000 Fifth Avenue NEW: Beginning May 1, 2013 MoMA will be open seven days a week. 11 W. 53rd St. The Morgan Library & Museum , 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street Museum of the City of New York , 1220 Fifth Avenue New York University, Grey Art Gallery , 100 Washington Square East Mondays and Tuesdays are the hardest days to remember which museums are open. See the list for NY museums open on Mondays here .

A Walk From Lincoln Center to Zabar's

If you happen to be attending a noon or matinee performance in Lincoln Center or otherwise happen to be hanging around there for whatever reason and find you've got some time, I recommend a stroll up Broadway to Zabar's, the famous Upper West Side food emporium. This stretch of Broadway takes in the sights of several new housing sky-rises, several theaters, and some flamboyant former apartment hotels of the early 20th century. Flâneurs will love the Belle Epoque ambiance of these overly-ornamented buildings, and the distance from W. 66th or so to W. 80th is not so taxing, especially if you're dressed in shoes for the opera. View Larger Map Several noteworthy structures along the way - The Dorilton, 171 W 71st St., from 1900-02, at the northeast corner of Broadway, is considered a Beaux Arts masterpiece. The 72nd St subway station dates from 1904 and is a funny little thing. Verdi Square, at the convergence of Broadway, Amsterdam, an W. 73rd, is a nice small park fea

Taking a Constitutional Walk

A long time ago individuals going out for a walk, especially to get fresh air and exercise, often referred to the activity as "taking a constitutional walk." The word "constitutional" refers to one's constitution or physical makeup, so a constitutional walk was considered beneficial to one's overall wellbeing. (Or, as some would prefer to call it, "wellness.") The phrase is more common in British literature than in American letters. As early as the mid-nineteenth century, many American commentators expressed concern that their countrymen were falling into lazy and unhealthy habits. Newspaper columnists and editorial writers urged their readers to take up the practice of the "constitutional" walk. One such essay, " Walking as an Exercise," originally printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and reprinted in New England Farmer , Volume 11, 1859, urges the people of farm areas to take up walking. City dwellers seemed to have the

Measuring Miles in Manhattan

• Read the more recent comprehensive post, From Penn Station to New York Landmarks: Measuring Walking Distance and Time in Manhattan . View Larger Map Walking 20 blocks uptown or downtown in Manhattan is equivalent to one mile. An example then would be that a walk up 5th Ave. from 8th Street to 28th St. would be a mile and from 8th St. to 48th Street would be two miles. This comes in handy when assessing distances. A fast walk is a 15-minute mile, so if every single crosswalk light is in one's favor, then a walk from 8th St. to 48th. should take 30 minutes. It usually takes me closer to 40-45 minutes. Rational measurement does not work for most of lower Manhattan. This is especially true for the West Village, a bohemian labyrinth. I have seen visitors, drunk on sugary cupcake frosting, walking the wrong direction on Bleecker Street. I just let them walk off their cupcakes.