MAGIC WORKS, AGAIN AND AGAIN
She’s much smaller than I thought” is a common refrain for many who’ve made their way to The Louvre and queued to see the Mona Lisa. This work of art looms so large in our minds that it’s a surprise to find it’s only 77cm x 53cm. It can also be a singular reason for visiting the most famous art gallery in Paris, if not the world. In the rush to get to Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, many visitors run out of time to see other extraordinary works on display.
So how to tackle a gallery of this stature? My Louvre experiences are limited but I’ve approached the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in a number of ways.
The first time was with a local who took me to her personal top 20. We crisscrossed floors, up and down stairs, ignoring chronology, genres, in favour of seeing artworks that pleased her most. It was genuine and novel.
The next visit I limited exploration to pieces with which I was most familiar. Vermeer, Monet, Degas, Picasso and Matisse were suddenly real and in front of me. Another time I joined the Empty Met Tour. A small group of us arrived 90 minutes before opening time and, with a guide, roamed the Met floors, seeing hidden corners, learning fascinating stories.
On the most recent visit, I planned my day around the Costume Institute exhibition, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, and was enthralled for several hours.
I don’t know when I’ll next be back in NYC, but I know when I am I’ll be back at the Met, finding another way to experience it. Our cover story this week is about the magic of Manhattan and its other boroughs. If you’ve been to the city you’ll know why it’s easy to be drawn back, again and again.
JANA FRAWLEY, NATIONAL TRAVEL EDITOR