Outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Met facade
The Met rooftop
Imran Qureshi

Anyone who has stepped foot inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art realizes the treasures of art and antiquity they have the privilege of viewing. Though I’ve been visiting that museum since I was a little child, I will never lose my sense of awe. I have treasured favorite paintings and sculptures. Still something new, or old as it may be always captures my attention. We’ve been taking Henry there his whole life (actually here I am at 37 weeks pregnant giving him a sneak peek) as well and pointing out new and fascinating things to him. Yesterday we showed him the sculpture of Perseus holding Medusa’s head and some Medieval tapestries that tell fascinating stories through their delicate embroidery. We also visited the textile exhibit and Henry and my husband’s favorite spot, the Arms and Armor.

I was fascinated to find out that every time I passed the facade I completely missed an unfinished portion of the building right above my head. Atop the columns that flank the entrance there are un-carved blocks. The architect Richard Morris Hunt died before the Beaux-Arts style design could be completed. In an article in the museum’s Bulletin by Albert Ten Eyck Gardner in 1953 he detailed the conflicting demands they faced saying, the blocks ”introduce a welcome note of rugged simplicity into an otherwise self-consciously correct Beaux Arts design.” If the blocks were removed, he wrote, ”the design, old-fashioned as it may be, would be irremediably weakened and damaged.” Harold Holzer, a current spokesman for the museum, said ”There are no plans ever to attempt to carve them”.

Above are a couple of snaps I took, one of the facade. Do you see the un-carved blocks? Another of the view of Central Park from the rooftop and the third features the current rooftop exhibit by Imran Qureshi.

Read the full New York Time article on the unfinished facade