NYC ~ Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Frick Collection

If I could go back to school and start over again, I would seriously consider getting my degree in Art History. Since it's unlikely that I will be going back to school any time soon, I have no other choice but try to learn as much as I can on my own. Luckily, living as close as I do to New York, there is no shortage of opportunities for me to expand my knowledge of the fine arts by visiting the many impressive art museums that call the city home.

Here are are two of my favorite art museums in the city and a few of my favorite things to see at each of them:


Photo of Metropolitan Museum of Art by Yang and Yun's Album via Fotopedia
How does one even begin to try to describe a museum as vast and broad reaching as the Metropolitan Museum of Art? As the largest art museum in the United States, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or the Met for short) pretty much has it all...
From 8,000 BC to the present, the Met covers almost every type of art imaginable.  The permanent collection has works of art from classical Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and Modern art. Additionally, it houses an impressive array of African, Asian, Oceanic, Byzantine and Islamic art. The museum is also home to a vast collection of musical instruments, costumes and accessories, and antique arms and armor from around the world.
Clearly this is not a museum that can be visited in one day. I have spent many, many days wandering the halls of the Met and I am sure there are many things I have yet to see. A few of my personal favorites are the American Wing, the Wrightsman Galleries (French Decorative Arts), the Impressionist Galleries, and the Modern and Contemporary Art Galleries. One tiny gem that many visitors bypass is the Italian Renaissance Gubbio Studiolo, tucked in a corner of the European Decorative Arts galleries, it is a small room paneled in wooden trompe l'oeil intended to trick viewers' eyes into thinking the wooden objects were real.
Other than the permanent collections, there are always several special exhibits happening at any given time. The "must see" exhibit coming this fall is Regarding Warhol, Sixty Artists, Fifty Years beginning on September 18th. Another "do not miss" exhibit this fall is Tomas Saraceno's Cloud City (until November 4th weather permitting) on the roof of the museum where you can see the New York skyline reflected in Saraceno's reflective modules. Also, each summer there is a special exhibit by the Costume Institute  featuring famous fashion designers.
There are always concerts, lectures and special tours going on at the Met so be sure to check the calendar before you visit so you don't miss anything.
A few other tips for visiting the Met:  If you are driving into the city, there is a large self park garage under the museum. The entrance is just south of the museum on Fifth Avenue. This is also a great garage to use if you are going to any of the other museums in the area, going to Central Park or just hanging out on the Upper East Side. 
Also, there are several good places to eat in the museum, but my favorite is the American Wing Cafe which has light sandwiches and snacks. If the weather is nice, go up to the Roof Garden Cafe and Martini Bar and have a cocktail while enjoying the fabulous views of Central Park and the NYC skyline.
Photo of The Frick Collection by Henk van der Eijk via Fotopedia
Fifth Avenue from 82nd Street to 105th Street is known as "Museum Mile" because of the nine museums (including the Met and the Guggenheim) that are along it. In my opinion, however, there is one very significant museum on Fifth Avenue that isn't included in the infamous mile - The Frick Collection.  It is especially near and dear to my heart because my daughter was fortunate enough to intern at the Frick for a summer while she was in college. 
For anyone interested in European paintings and decorative arts, it should not be missed.  Located at Fifth Avenue and East 70th Street in the former home of coal and steel magnate, Henry Clay Frick, the Frick Collection is one of the finest small art museums in the world.  With six galleries, surrounding a beautiful interior courtyard, the Frick displays exceptional European paintings and sculpture. Additionally,the Frick houses many fine examples of 18th Century European decorative arts and furniture.  As a "house museum", many of the paintings and furnishings are still arranged according to Henry Clay Frick's original design. (My favorite paintings at the Frick are Vermeer's "Mistress and Maid" and Hans Holbein's "Portrait of Thomas More".)  None of the objets d'art are behind ropes or glass, giving one the feeling of just having wandered into the home of a wealthy industrialist. However, because of the way the items are displayed, no children under 10 are allowed in the museum.