Saturday, June 14, 2014

Metropolitan Museum (NYC) Free Publications

Screen shot of MetPublications Portal
During my 2010 visit to New York City, I paid a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (colloquially called the ‘Met’), and made a point of visiting The Cloisters, that branch of the Met Museum devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. The Cloisters was a short 10-15 minute walk from where I was staying in Washington Heights. I wrote about that visit here, so I won’t cover old ground today. Instead I wanted to let you know about a treasure trove of online publications that all art lovers, visitors to New York, and New Yorkers themselves will surely want to explore further.

Like the online publications collection available at the Getty Museum website, the Metropolitan Museum has also made available hundreds of publications through their own online portal via the MetPublications section of the website.

MetPublications is a portal to the Met's comprehensive publishing program with 1,500 titles, including books, online publications, and Bulletins and Journals from the last five decades. Current book titles that are in-print may be previewed and fully searched online, with a link to purchase the book. The full contents of almost all other book titles may be read online, searched, or downloaded as a PDF. For the Met's Bulletin, all but the most recent issue can be downloaded as a PDF. For the Met's Journal, all individual articles and entire volumes can be downloaded as a PDF.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but when 1,500 publications from one of the world’s leading art institutions are made freely available to anyone with an internet connection, that constitutes a real treasure trove. Back in 2010, I was completely unaware of this resource, and anyway I didn’t have an iPad which would help me make the most of that knowledge―even if I did know about MetPublications. However, now I do have an iPad, and I do know about the Getty Museum publications and those from the Met Museum, so lately I have been making up for lost time by downloading and reading some of the catalogues and bulletins from both organizations. By the way, you don't need an eReader to access these publications, they can be downloaded to your laptop or desktop computer as well.

The Unicorn Tapestries
Which brings me back to my visit to The Cloisters. There are some unique and priceless works of art on display in The Cloisters, and probably none more so than the seven Gothic Unicorn Tapestries the building is famous for. I was familiar with the tapestries (which depict the Hunt For The Unicorn) in a very general way, and as much as I enjoyed seeing them, my visit suffered from a lack of real knowledge about the background and history of these magnificent works. Even worse, I had absolutely no way of ‘reading’ or understanding the importance of the hundreds of individual images woven on to these treasures.

Thankfully, all that changed after I discovered MetPublications and the numerous catalogues and bulletins available there that examine the Unicorn Tapestries in great detail.

I know, I know, you could argue this information came four years too late, but when I return to New York City next year, and return again to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and to The Cloisters, I can assure you I will be much more knowledgeable and informed, not only about the tapestries, but about many other works of art, and the buildings that house them.

I will review some of the publications I have downloaded at a future date. In the meantime, why not check out both the Getty Museum and The Met Museum, and see what exciting treasures you can discover for yourself.

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