A Look Inside Met Breuer, The Metropolitan Museum’s New Building
By Scott Heins
The art world media got their first glimpse of the new Met Breuer, the Metropolitan Museum’s five-years-in-the-making new space in the iconic Marcel Breuer building once occupied by the Whitney Museum. The Met’s Director and CEO Thomas Campbell said, “This is a very interesting new chapter for the Met.”
“It will provide new points of entry for our audiences to engage with art from the 20th and 21st Centuries. And at the same time it will provide new points of entry for audiences to engage with our historical collections,” Campbell told the assembled press.
He also joked about the staff cleaning the brutalist building and “scraping gum” from the concrete.
The building, just a 9-and-a-half-minute walk from the sprawling Beaux-Arts Metropolitan Museum on Fifth Avenue, was acquired with help from arts patron Leonard Lauder. In 2008, Lauder made a $131 million donation to the Whitney on the stipulation that the Breuer building could not be sold, and then he asked the Met if they would be interested in taking the space over.
Works from Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Piet Mondrian, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Paul Cezanne, Cady Noland, and Eva Hesse were hanging as part of the exhibit Unfinished:
Thoughts Left Visible, which, the museum says, will examine “a subject that is critical
to artistic practice: the question of when a work of art is finished.” Over 190 works, from the Renaissance to today (40% from the Met’s own collection), will be on display on the third and fourth floors.
On the second floor is the first American retrospective of Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi. Mohamedi used repetition and
elegant straight lines to create captivating graphite and paper pieces. Her clean, high-contrast art recalls the music of Steve Reich and Philip Glass. It’s deceptively simple but draws you in to a very deep and quiet place.
Overall, gallery rooms don’t feel as packed as those at, say, MoMA, and there’s actually a bit of dynamic floorplanning at work at the Breuer. Lighting creates bright highlights and strong shadows, giving some of the galleries—especially the third floor—
a chiaroscuro atmosphere.
The Met Breuer opens on March 18. Performance artist Vijay Iyer will be taking over the Breuer’s lobby from opening day until March 31 for solo and collaborative pieces.