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Inside the New Met Breuer

04/06/16

After 78 years, The Metropolitan Museum has opened its second outpost: the modern and contemporary art branch now lives on the corner of Madison Avenue and 75th Street. Dubbed the Met Breuer, it’s in the Whitney Museum’s former building (the American art museum has since moved to a gorgeous new spot in the Meatpacking District), designed by architect Marcel Breuer. We stopped by the Met Breuer in its first week, and here’s what we loved.

Marcel Breuer’s building is a work of art in itself.
Breuer started his career as a furniture maker in Dessau, Germany, and applied the same attention to detail in his building as he did his chairs. Trained at the Bauhus—a school in Germany known for its modernist approach to design—he brought the iconic style to his Breuer building: Handcrafted staircases, burnished bronze accents and textured concrete on the inside, smooth granite on the outside. It’s little wonder The New York Times hailed the building as “harsh, but handsome” when it opened in 1966.

It’s what the Met needed.
The museum’s Fifth Avenue location has gallery space for more than 12,000 works of art from 1900 to the present (out of a collection of more than two million pieces), but its contemporary showings always felt cramped. Now, the Breuer building lets the museum arrange the works with more flexibility and host special exhibitions, bringing it in line with the likes of the MoMA and the Whitney.

It’s not overwhelming.
Museum days can be daunting—it could take days to explore every room in the Met’s main building. At 29,000 square feet, the Met Breuer is fully manageable. We explored its five floor at a relaxed pace in just under two hours.

Ignacio Mattos and Thomas Carter are doing the food.
While not much has changed structure-wise since the 60s, the dining options will improve dramatically. Restaurateur Thomas Carter and James Beard award-winning chef Ignacio Mattos, both from Nolita’s Estela, are opening an Estela Breuer this summer. No word on the new menu yet, but we’re expecting a similar selection of shared dishes like burrata with salsa verde, and salt cod croquettes—dishes that the Obamas enjoyed on their last visit.

It has the only Phaidon bookshop in New York.
Creative arts publishing powerhouse Phaidon has its only New York store on the museum’s fifth floor. Headquartered in London and New York, they publish books on art, photography, design, architecture, fashion, food and travel.

The first exhibition beautifully connects art from throughout the ages.
The museum’s opening exhibition, “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible,” explores 197 works from Renaissance masters to contemporary artists. From incomplete works by artists like Rembrandt, Turner and Cézanne to intentionally unfinished pieces by Jackson Pollock, the exhibition examines the term “unfinished” and what it means in modern art.


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