No matter how mainstream or popular a place, I believe there are always hidden corners and secrets to discover. This is especially true with major museums, which have such extensive and huge collections that it’s impossible to see every single object in one or even 50 visits. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but each time I find myself in front of a new and fascinating object, or end up looking a familiar artifact in a different way. While my parents were visiting, we spent an afternoon meandering through the halls where just a fragment of the institution’s over two million works are exhibited.
When visiting the Temple of Dendur, we saw people setting up for an event in the ancient Nubian structure. I think it’s kind of cool that something that was built for events, in a way, is still being used for celebrations. For the first time, I actually stopped to read the label text on the wall. I was surprised to find out that the temple had been moved from its original location in 1963 due to flooding after the construction of a new dam. Because the US had helped with saving other monuments from being submerged, Egypt gave the temple as a gift of appreciation. The whole thing was dismantled into over 600 boxes and put on a ship, finally being rebuilt in the beautiful Met atrium where it is now surrounded by a reflecting pool.
Another wonderful discovery was a room with several locking chests, including the fascinating one pictured above with ornate foliage mechanisms. I have tried, but failed, to find any information on this curious object’s history (and unfortunately I didn’t take notes). So if anyone has any details on its story, please share! However, in trying to locate it on the museum’s collection database, I did make some other interesting finds, including this awesome carved door lock shaped like a man from Mali, and this charming group of 16th century German keys. Maybe I am on the wrong track and this isn’t a locking chest at all? But what else could it be? I need to go back to the museum and solve this mystery. And then write some sort of novel involving a murder and car chases and all that and then I will be wildly rich and famous.
I also visited the musical instruments galleries for the first time (I think they were being renovated before). I believe this is my new favorite collection in the Met. So many ridiculous and magical instruments! My only complaint is that I would love to hear them played. Maybe they could add some videos or sound recordings to the gallery. I mean, just look at the two horns above. How do you even play the one on the left? Or even the one on the right for that matter. What strange music blasts from the pipes? There were also instruments with great names like the archlute, the viola d’amore, and the violencello. And there was a reed instrument shaped as a sea dragon and a lute shaped as a peacock.
It was a great trip to the museum, and I’m looking forward to more exploring on my next visit. And I know I will at least be coming back in May, because there is going to be an exhibit of work by the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen, which I’m sure will be extraordinary.