Macaulay Seminar One at Brooklyn College
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Trip to the Met

Two weeks ago JJ and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’ve been to the Met a couple of times before and going there is always great. The Met is huge so I’m just going to talk about the places where we spent the most time.

The Met is arranged thematically in that different sections are dedicated to art from particular areas, time periods, and in the case of Arms and Armor, function. Each of these sections is set up in a way that enhances the pieces displayed in it. This is done through various ways such as lighting, arrangement, and even architecture. For example, the American Wing had giant marble pillars framing one of its entrances that were reminiscent of those found outside various government buildings.

The first place we visited was the Egyptian Wing. In this section the lighting was dimmed, likely to reduce any harmful effect on the pieces. This also had the effect of helping focus attention back on the pieces. Also the architecture was set up to have an “Egyptian” feel. Its amazing how artwork thats literally thousand of years old is so well preserved. JJ and I noted how some pieces had still retained their color. My favorite part of this section is the Temple of Dendur. Its housed in a huge room thats set up in a way to reflect where the temple once stood in Egypt. The sandstone temple is surrounded by water. The water even has sculptures of Egyptian crocodiles.

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JJ and the temple 🙂

The temple itself has intricate carvings both on its insides and outsides. They depict a variety of things such as the Egyptian gods and figures making sacrifices to them. The story of how they brought the temple to the United States and installed it in the museum is really interesting. I recommend reading it if you find yourself in the Met.

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The Egyptian Wing led us into the American Wing. My favorite piece here was the Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles. I previously mentioned this piece in my first post. It’s funny how I managed to come full circle with my final one :D.

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The piece is on the walls of a large circular room. It has the effect of making the viewer feel as though he’s actually standing in the grounds of the palace. This says a lot about the artists skill in regard to spacial arrangement. I tried to recreate the effect by taking a panoramic picture with my phone, but failed miserably. I couldn’t even fit the entire room in one photo.

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Pedestal in the center of the room with information about the palace.

Pedestal in the center of the room with information about the palace.

We also spent a lot of time in the Arms and Armor Section. It’s interesting to note the creativity that went into tools designed for death. In the center of the section is grand display made out of knights on horseback. The scale gives you an idea of what knights riding into battle might have looked like. Another thing I noticed was the disparity between armor and weapons made for royalty, and that of the common man. The weapons and armor of nobility were extremely intricate and ornate whereas those of the average person was rather simple. An example of this is a gilded bronze sword that was made for a prince.

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While it’s hard to tell in the picture, the hilt of the sword has intricate engravings that depict the Virgin Mary and the Archangel banishing Satan.

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With the exception of the interestingly shaped crossguard, these are swords by comparion are quite plain. Here’s some other things in the section that I found interesting.

The armor in the center was made for a five year old prince.

The armor in the center was made for a five year old prince.

Samurai Armor

Samurai Armor

More Samurai!

More Samurai!

An interesting chart showing European armor development over a thousand years.

An interesting chart showing European armor development over a thousand years.

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An actual catapult projectile used during the crusades.




1 comment

1 Daniel Bibawy { 12.21.12 at 5:54 pm }

You guys are very lucky to have gone! I myself still have yet to go! I like your commentary on the Egyptian pieces and how they have been preserved all these years. Just the preservation of them in and of itself is art to me.

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