The Met reopens 45 newly installed European Paintings galleries
Today, November 20, 2023, the Metropolitan Museum of Art reopens its full suite of 45 galleries dedicated to European Paintings from 1300 to 1800
Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art · Image: Caravaggio, “The Musicians,” 1597
“Look Again: European Paintings 1300–1800” highlights new narratives and juxtapositions among more than 700 works of art, following an approximately five-year-long project to replace the galleries’ skylights.
The gateway gallery located at the top of the Great Hall staircase, featuring three monumental paintings by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, introduces the geographic boundaries of the collection while simultaneously inviting consideration of the dynamic nature of European borders and the continent’s ever-changing network of alliances. The galleries then unfold chronologically, setting works of Northern and Southern Europe into direct dialogue, departing from the previous display which focused on national schools and geographic distinctions. In addition to featuring longstanding strengths of the collection—such as individual masterpieces by artists like Jan van Eyck, Caravaggio, and Poussin; the most extensive collection of 17th-century Dutch art in the western hemisphere; and the finest holdings of El Greco and Goya outside Spain—the reconfigured galleries gives renewed attention to women artists, explore Europe’s complex relationships with New Spain and the Viceroyalty of Peru, and look more deeply into the histories of class, gender, race, and religion. Recent acquisitions are highlighted, such as William Wood’s exceptional portrait of Joanna da Silva, Clara Peeters’s floral still life, and Francesco Salviati’s portrait of Florentine banker Bindo Altoviti. Select works from other curatorial departments—including works of sculpture, metalwork, decorative arts, musical instruments, and modern art—further augments the gallery narratives.
The complete replacement of 30,000 square feet of skylights above Galleries 600 to 644 marks the largest infrastructure project in the Museum’s history. The momentous undertaking significantly improves the quality of light in the space and considerably enhances the viewing experience, in addition to resolving basic maintenance issues and increasing energy efficiency. The previous skylights, constructed in 1939 and last remodeled in 1952, had deteriorated over time. The process of replacing and upgrading the roof, skylights, and all the HVAC systems began in April 2018 and was carried out in phases. With construction finished, The Met temporarily closed the full suite of galleries in late March 2023 for reinstallation, in preparation for the November 2023 reopening.