I love coming to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the Private Members Nights. It is one of the perks that I enjoy of being a member for the last thirty years. The museum closes at 5:30pm to the general public and we as members get to roam certain parts of the hall on our own for almost three hours. It gives us a chance to visit halls that we have not seen or have not visited in a while and have special discounts in the restaurants and gift shops. There are also special lectures and talks in all the galleries and it is nice to talk to the curators and docents.
I just like the time that I can stroll around the museum at my own pace. We have the same thing when it is open to the public but here you are with other members who really are dedicated art lovers who want to support the museum. It gives all the members a chance to talk to one another about their experiences at the museum and what the museum means to them. Plus, it is nice to see couples and families enjoying themselves.
Since the British Galleries were closed that evening because of a renovation and the American Wing not being opened that night, I spent most of my evening in the in the ‘Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia’ galleries on the second floor of the museum.
The setup of the newly installed gallery in 2011
I rarely visit this gallery and was the first time since I have been a member to really spend time in them. Frankly, I did not know they even existed as they are tucked into a corner of the museum off the popular European Paintings and Sculpture galleries and can easily be missed. What a fascinating gallery.
The Gallery was full of interesting scriptures, architecture, rugs and carpets, sculpture, decorative objects and jewelry. A small section of the back gallery was closed off that evening, but I was able to check out most of the rooms that evening.
The Gallery opening back in 2011
The galleries are set up by region and by the artwork they represent with the Roman influenced galleries being in the middle.
As I wondered through the galleries, it was interesting to see the fancy and elegant calligraphy work on all of the artwork. Arabic writing is so beautiful to look at. It has interesting appearance as a language as Chinese and Japanese characters have when you look at them. They take an effort and an education to write out.
The Entrance to the Arabic Galleries at the Met
Some of the galleries showcased interesting home and prayer rugs with their interesting geometric and bokara designs. The detail work in the weaving was especially intricate. The use of the different colors especially made the rugs pop out and you can see the craftsmanship in each rug.
The area and prayer rugs in the Arabic Galleries at the Met
Different forms of pottery and chinaware were featured in the cases including pieces called ‘lusterware’ which had a distinct sheen to them. It really showed off the painted details of the artist.
Ancient sculptures from different regions were displayed in the cases that highlighted the royal families of each region along with pieces of building materials to show the detailed work of each structure.
“The Royal Couple” in the Arabic Galleries at the Met
What I thought was interesting was entering the “Greeting Room”-‘Damascus Room’ of a local palace that was brought in detail and is displayed towards the back of the galleries with its elegant cushions, small fountains, colorful designs and wall coverings and just the welcome atmosphere people must have found when entering this room.
The Damascus Room-Greeting Room in the Met Galleries
The exquisite jewels with the intricate silver and gold work and the lattice designs encrusted in semi and precious jewels showed the importance of the wearer and how much it must have meant to be received by the person.
I was able to spend some time talking to the gallery docent and listen to her take on the artwork. This is one of the ‘perks’ of the membership is the lectures and talks we get to hear in the gallery in those evenings.
I was so impressed with what I saw that I came back a second time to really have a look around and to see the galleries that had been cordoned off that evening. These galleries were the ones housing the rugs and many fancy pieces of jewelry. Many ancient artworks could be seen in the cases as well. I ended up spending most of my time both evenings wondering around these galleries.
I could not understand why I had never been to this gallery in the all the years I have been coming to the museum. It just goes to show the depth that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has in its collection.
After visiting the museum, I walked back to Times Square to have something to eat. My Dining Club has recommended a wonderful Chinese restaurant that I had never noticed before called ‘China River’ in the Theater District. I must have passed this place dozens of times and never noticed it before. After eating there, I will notice it much more. The food was delicious, and the service was wonderful.
The China River restaurant at 258 West 44th Street
I had gotten there about twenty minutes to ten in the evening and the host said to me that they would be closing the kitchen at ten but said I could order before then. I said I pretty much knew what I wanted so I sat down in the back. I find it annoying though that they always put the single people in the back at a two top right by the kitchen.
The entrance to the China River restaurant
The waiter read my mind when he saw how frustrated I was and gave me a larger four top on the other side of the room with more light. This was a sign that I was working with someone who cared. It was matched by the quality of the food. It was excellent. I was really impressed for Chinese food in the Theater District that was not only delicious but priced fairly.
Since it was so late and I really just wanted a snack and it was a cold night, I ordered Dim Sum. I started with a bowl of Hot & Sour Soup, and it was one of the best I have had in a long time. The soup was rich and spicy with lots of shredded vegetables and pork in it. The chili oil gave it just the right amount of pinch that warmed me up on the cool night.
For the Dim Sum selection, I chose the Pan-Fried Pork Buns, the Spring Rolls and the Crystal Shrimp Dumplings and all were excellent. The Pan-Fried Pork buns were so large that they were a meal all on their own. They were soft with a spicy ground pork filling on the inside and the Crystal Shrimp were filled with pieces of shrimp both perfect for the soy combination dipping sauce. The Spring Rolls were crisp on the outside and filled with shredded vegetables on the inside. It was just enough food to fill me up for the rest of the evening ride home (See my review below on TripAdvisor).
The Crystal Shrimp Dumplings were especially good
The best part was that the restaurant was right around the corner from the Port Authority, and I was able to get in and out of the City in record time.
It was just nice to spend my night wondering around the galleries at my own pace and just enjoy the evening in Manhattan.
Places to Vist:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10028
Open: Sunday-Tuesday 10:00am-5:00pm/Wednesday Closed/Thursday 10:00am-5:00pm/Friday-Saturday 10:00am-9:00pm
Admission/Fee: Adults $25.00/Senior (over 65) $17.00/Students $12.00/Children (under 12) free/Members Free
My review on TripAdvisor:
Places to Eat:
258 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
Open: Sunday 12:00pm-9:30pm/Monday-Saturday 11:30am-9:30pm
My review on TripAdvisor: