The Metropolitan Museum of Art David H. Koch Plaza Night View (Exterior) Photo courtesy of The Met
With highlights including the annual Christmas tree and menorah displays, new exhibitions, and performances for the family, The Met’s holiday program provides a one-stop destination to ring in the season
This holiday season, visitors to The Met will be invited to marvel at the classic Christmas tree and menorah displays, and to enjoy seasonal food offerings, as well as shopping opportunities, holiday concerts, educational programs, and much more.
“It’s a time-honored tradition for New Yorkers to visit the Museum during the holiday season—and our curators have so much to offer” said Kenneth Weine, Senior Vice President for External Affairs. “From large to small special exhibitions and multiple seasonal festivities, it’s a must stop for visitors of all ages.”
Christmas Tree Display
The Met’s Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche—a beloved holiday tradition—will be on view in the Medieval Sculpture Hall (Gallery 305) through January 8, 2023. The towering 20-foot blue spruce is adorned with a host of cherubs and angels. More than 70 additional figures at the base represent the three elements of Nativity scenes that were traditional to 18th-century Naples: adoring shepherds and their flocks, the procession of the three Magi, and spirited peasants and townspeople. Enhancing the display are nearly 50 charming animals and background elements—such as the ruins of a Roman temple, several quaint houses, and a typical Italian fountain—that create a dramatic setting for the Nativity.
Eastern European Silver Menorah
In honor of Hanukkah, a magnificent silver menorah made in 1866–72 will be on view in The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Galleries (Floor 1, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Gallery 556) through January 8, 2023. Created for the Great Synagogue in Lviv (present-day Ukraine), the ceremonial lamp, which is cast, chased, and engraved with elaborate motifs, is one of the largest silver Hanukkah lamps known. The menorah is on loan from The Moldovan Family Collection.
The eight-branched Hanukkah menorah commemorates an important moment in Jewish history: the triumphant Maccabean revolt against the oppressing Seleucid Empire and the re-consecration of the Jewish Holy Temple in 165 B.C. The lamp’s eight branches refer to the miracle in which the last vessel of oil, which should have lasted only one day, kept the temple menorah lit for eight days to allow for the Temple’s re-consecration.
Medieval “Christmastide” Decorations at The Met Cloisters
From December 15, 2022, through January 8, 2023, a unique tradition at The Met Cloisters pays tribute to the medieval Christmas celebration. Visitors enter under a great arch of holly boughs bright with red fruits, which symbolize light, warmth, and welcome. Holly is the plant that is most associated with the medieval feast.
Inside, grand arches will be decked with fresh ivy locally sourced in Fort Tryon Park. The gardeners at The Met Cloisters dress each of the ivy arches with hand-polished New York lady apples, hazelnuts, rosehips, and pinecones.
Elsewhere throughout the halls, cloisters, galleries, and arcades, verdant topiaries, garlands, and wreaths will be displayed. Candelabras will be decorated with ivy and adorned with fresh roses. The Cuxa Cloister will be filled with potted fragrant and flowering plants such as citrus, rosemary, and cyclamen. Each plant is a symbol and celebration of the season.
Visitors to The Met Fifth Avenue will find a suite of special exhibitions to explore, including: Lives of the Gods: Divinity in Maya Art (through April 2, 2023), which brings together nearly 100 rarely seen masterpieces and recent discoveries in diverse media to highlight Classic Maya visual culture and evoke a world in which the divine, human, and natural realms are interconnected; Cubism and the Trompe l’Oeil Tradition (through January 22, 2023), investigating how Cubists such as Georges Braque, Juan Gris, and Pablo Picasso both parodied classic trompe l’oeil (“deceive the eye”) devices and invented new ways of confounding the viewer; and The Tudors: Art and Majesty in Renaissance England (through January 8, 2023), tracing the transformation of the arts in Tudor England through more than 100 objects from both The Met collection and international lenders.
Additional exhibitions and installations on view at The Met Fifth Avenue during the holiday season include: Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina (through February 5, 2023); Kimono Style: The John C. Weber Collection (through February 20, 2023); Chroma: Ancient Sculpture in Color (through March 26, 2023); Fictions of Emancipation: Carpeaux Recast (through March 5, 2023); The Facade Commission: Hew Locke, Gilt (through May 22, 2023); Water Memories (through April 2, 2023); Victorian Masterpieces from the Museo de Arte de Ponce, Puerto Rico (through February 2024); Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room (ongoing); The African Origin of Civilization (ongoing); and A New Look at Old Masters (through spring 2023). For the full list of exhibitions, please refer to The Met’s website.
MetLiveArts Performance Series
The Grammy-nominated Trio Mediæval will take to the reverberant Fuentidueña Chapel at The Met Cloisters to perform six centuries of holiday music spanning English medieval carols and traditional Scandinavian songs, weaving strands of medieval sacred music, folk, jazz, and improvisation. (December 11)
Also in December, the Museum’s 2022–23 Quartet in Residence, Catalyst Quartet, will present its arrangement of J.S. Bach’s acclaimed Goldberg Variations with Machine Dazzle responding to the Quartet’s performance in real time in a performance/installation that interprets the music’s inescapable evolution through a lens that is both personal and emotional. (December 16 and 17)
A family favorite—and long-standing Met tradition—is Storytime for children ages 18 months through 6 years. The program is free, but space is limited. (From December 1)
Several programs have been organized around the theme of snow. Start with Art, for families with children ages 3 to 6, incorporates stories, sketching, and other activities in the Museum’s galleries. (December 1) The Art Trek program invites families with children ages 7 through 11 to discover favorite works of art through close looking together. (From December 3)
At The Met Cloisters, a slate of holiday programming is scheduled, including a medieval winter wreath workshop in which participants can learn about the symbolic meanings of plants and create a festive wreath alongside Met Cloisters horticultural staff in a special after-hours event. (December 16, advance pre-registration is required) Additional programs activating The Met Cloisters during the season include a caroling performance by The Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School’s Vocal Ensemble (December 13), and a seasonal holiday tour in which visitors learn how plants were used in winter celebrations such as medieval Christmastide and how Hannukah was celebrated in the Middle Ages. (December 15–January 8)
Enjoy seasonal snacks and menus at The Great Hall Balcony Cafe and in The Met Dining Room, which will feature an exclusive holiday tasting menu (December 15–January 10). Hot coffee, other beverages, and snacks can be enjoyed in the American Wing Cafe, and the Eatery offers casual dining options. Members at the Evening Hours level and above can enjoy an exclusive menu or a quick pick-me-up during Members Morning Hours at The Balcony Lounge. More dining information is available on The Met’s website, here.
The Museum’s successful Date Night at The Met program continues throughout the winter season, every Friday and Saturday night from 5:00–9:00 P.M. Visitors are invited to escape the cold with an evening at the Museum to enjoy the art and settle in with a seasonal beverage, including hot cocoa and festive drinks at the Museum’s American Wing Café or Petrie Court Café, and a small bites menu in the Balcony Lounge (open to Met Members at the Evening Hours level and above; reservations recommended).
Giving the Gift of The Met
The Met Store has a variety of memorable, art-inspired gifts, all available to browse in a new digital holiday catalog. From a dazzling array of jewelry, holiday ornaments, and fun stocking stuffers to the latest Met publications, unique home decor, and educational toys and games, The Met Store has something for art lovers of all tastes and ages. Shop at The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Cloisters, or online at store.metmuseum.org to discover what’s new this holiday season.
Annual Membership to The Met is also available for gifting, providing recipients the opportunity to experience 5,000 years of art year round. Membership benefits include: free admission for Members and their guest(s) on every visit, exclusive early exhibition viewing hours, special holiday discounts at The Met Store, discounts on dining and parking, and other privileges. More information about Membership packages and gifting options are on The Met’s website.
Visiting The Met
The Met Fifth Avenue is open six days a week, Thursday through Tuesday. Hours on Fridays and Saturdays are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Sundays–Tuesdays and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Met Cloisters is open Thursday through Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both locations will be closed on December 25 and January 1. Admission for New York State residents as well as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut students is pay as you wish.
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