I attended a fantastic opening reception this past Tuesday night, and thought it would be fun to share it with you. The event was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and celebrated the reopening, after years of renovations, of the painting and sculpture galleries of the all-important American Wing. The museum was decked out for the occasion, from the red, white, and blue votive candles sparkling on the Grand Staircase to the blue floodlights on the Temple of Dendur where the main reception (for about 1,000 people) was held.
Why is the American Wing so important? As the highest-profile and most-visited permanent installation of its type, it defines for millions of people the visual culture of the United States as expressed in art. One could also argue that it serves as the cultural port of entry for hundreds of thousands of international visitors to New York, providing them with their first understanding of the history of America.
The new installation is stunning in its quality and in its coherent story line. But for me, the highlight was the prominence on American folk art in that story. There is a gallery devoted to folk art, which is pictured here, and also a number of selected pieces throughout the other galleries enhancing the sense of inclusiveness in the exhibition. It was a reminder that the whole story of America cannot be told without the voices of the ordinary men and women who sculpted and painted their lives.