The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met is filled with art that spans from 6,500 years ago to the modern day and surveys every culture from the most remote to the homegrown.There are 17 curatorial departments that range from Photography to American Art, African Art to Old Master Paintings, Ancient Egypt to Musical Instruments.
Most Popular Tours:
In this 90 minute tour I guide you switfly and smoothly around the museum to discover extraodinary works in the collection from across millenia and diverse civilizations. Objects that are extremely rare, pieces made with virtuostic skill , works that tell epic stories, and exciting new creations. This tour is perfect if you want to see the best of the collection in limited time.
Extended Highlights Tour
This two and a half hour tour allows us to look at a larger cross- section of this massive museum, focusing on the most fascinating or unique works from each curatorial department. In this tour we can slow down and dive in.
What makes Art Explorations with Nadja Hansen unique is that it is all about customizing the experience to your interests and tastes.
Say you like decorative arts, your partner likes Chinese art, and your kid likes ancient Egypt? Then I build a tour around highlights of those three areas that is fun and engaging for everyone. Are you organizing a work event around female leadership? I could customize a tour around the theme of powerful women in art. Mother daughter day? Passover? I can design a tour for any occasion.
You could also do an entire tour in just one area (here are some popular options):
18th century French
Ancient Greece and Rome
**Check out the 17 curatorial departments at the Met and tell me what you would like to explore. **
Special Exhibtion Tours
The Last Knight:The Art, Armor, and Ambition of Maximilian I
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Great for Kids!)
(October 7 2019 - January 5 2020)
This exhibition will feature many works of art on view outside Europe for the first time, including Maximilian's own sumptuous armors that highlight his patronage of the greatest European armorers of his age, as well as related manuscripts, paintings, sculpture, glass, tapestry, and toys, all of which emphasize the emperor's dynastic ambitions and the centrality of chivalry at the imperial court and beyond.
Making Marvels: Science and Splendor at the Courts of Europe
At the Metropolitan Museum of Art
(November 25 2019 - March 1 2020)
Approximately 170 objects—including clocks, automata, furniture, musical instruments, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, print media, and more—from both The Met collection and over fifty lenders worldwide will be featured. Visitors will discover marvelous innovations that engaged and delighted the senses of the past, much like twenty-first-century technology holds our attention today—through suspense, surprise, and dramatic transformations.
Myths, Gods, and the Cosmos
The lightning bolts of Zeus, the malevolent female spirits that accompany the sun in the Aztec world, the power figures of Ghana that bring justice, the astrological tables that ruled medieval conceptions of the stars—we explore all these and many more on this jaunt through humanity's great search for meaning in the sky.
Ritual, Ceremony, and Festivities
Around the world, death, marriage, the planting of crops, the daily rising of the sun, the movement of the stars, and the many crucial moments of communal life were accompanied by complex rituals from sacrifice to feasting, dancing to the disembarkation of divine ships. Moving from the full body masks of Burkina Faso, to the mummification of ancient Egypt, the yearly dinners held in the tombs of ancient Rome to the skull altars of Mesoamerica, the playful wedding day drinking vessels of medieval Germany to the complex tea sets made for burials in ancient China—we find the fascinating similarities and differences in the traditions and customs of wildly diverse cultures around the world.
What are the abiding threads that wind through millenniums of art, whether you’re in Reformation Rome or an ancient Assyrian palace? Sex and death. Let's see the different and surprisingly similar ways that cultures from India to Russia, China to France have dealt with the passion of sex and the inevitability of death. Explore how sex could be seen as bawdy or holy, dangerous or demure and death could be that fearsome reckoning or only the beginning of happiness. Looking at works that range from the flirtatious to the coy, the celebratory to the symbolic, the reflective to the sorrowful—we won’t be able to help re-evaluating these two endlessly questioned aspects of the human condition.
Sex and Death
Dance, Music and Song
Nature and the Seasons
The all-important lotus blossom on ancient Egyptian monuments, the wintry skies and frolicking ice skaters that endlessly populate chilly canvases from Holland, the delicately delineated change of seasons on Japanese silk screens that encompass fundamental ideas of Buddhism, the drunken Bacchante festivals of wine harvesting on Roman sarcophagi are but a few of the ways art illustrates the integral connection of the seasons to everyday life for every person in the world until the modern era. Let us dive into a time before air conditioning and electric lights, when people lived by the rising and setting of the sun and saw in the leaves, trees, harvests, and flowers all the wonder so much lost to modern city dwellers.
Who isn’t dazzled by a late night serenade under the stars, a picnic abundant with champagne and song floating through the summer air, Japanese cherry blossoms opening to the sound of the koto or the romantic yearning of a Spanish guitar covered in mother of pearl? From sensual Persian poems set to music to the miniature instruments made of bamboo in Borneo, the elegant fete gallants of 18th century France to the raucous country dances of Flanders, we traverse the Met to catch ourselves in the midst of revelry, romance, and that universal language: music. We listen as much as we look and I might know a jig or two.
Shady Ladies and Mischievous Men
From adultery to abandonment, tax evasion to murder – the vices of our times are much what they were a thousand years ago. From the mythological lovers of ancient Greece to the femme fatales of 20th century Paris, the Met is rife with stories of corruption, intrigue, and boys (and girls) behaving badly! Lets crisscross the museum to find the good, the bad, and the ugly—those whose stories never die!
The Science and Materials of Art: Color, Optics, Light, Math, Making
The intricate patterns of Muslim art are based on precise mathematical equations, the way our eyes take in color combinations and understand atmospheric perspective are based on science not aesthetics, the rich colors that last for thousands of years or fade into other hues or chip away has entirely to do with the plants and bugs and synthetic materials humans have experimented with all over the world. When we look at a hazy summer day in a Monet, decipher complex designs in a mosque, or wonder at the clarity of a blue in a Titian we are looking at math and science as much as we are at art. On this exploration, we are thinking about how things are made, what tools are used, what pigments are combined, what degree a compass was set at. We will revel in the ways art depends on science and math.
There are only a handful of museums in the world where you can truly time travel. The Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London… the Met in NYC! Soar through the expanse of human history and stop in at any time and place you wish. Want to visit the guardians of one of the seven wonders of the ancient world? Walk inside a two thousand year old Egyptian temple? Stroll through the courtyard of a Chinese Ming era philosopher? Stare into the faces of the Roman men who ruled one of the greatest empire’s in human history? Explore the long buried bedroom of a victim of Vesuvius? Pry into the private study of a famed Renaissance duke? Swoon in the bridal chamber of an 18th century Venetian palace? Surround yourself in the pure golden world of the Aztec rulers? Size up Henry the VIII's armor? Stroll through the glittering music room of a Parisian villa right on the cusp of the French Revolution? Stand before the immense choir gates of a Medieval Spanish cathedral? Immerse yourself in the fountain room of a home in Ottoman Damascus? Peak into the dressing room of the mistress of a 19th century American railroad billionaire? Spot Picasso in a café? Find the recently rediscovered murals painted to celebrate America of the 1920’s? Let's start by visiting a 7,000 year old musician from the Greek islands and see where our imaginations take us.
Decipher hieroglyphs, learn about the ba (personality) and the ka (soul), the jackal headed Anubis, the cow headed Hathor and the many other gods that made up the pantheon of Egyptian religion, unravel the ways of life and death along the Nile in one of the richest and greatest civilizations the world has ever known. Explore transplanted temples, sphinxes, false doors, board games, clothing, jewellery, tombs, and of course mummies in this comprehensive journey through Ancient Egypt.
All the facets of George Washington—the man, the general, the President, the legend—can be found at the Met, along with paintings and rooms that bring his times to life. What kind of living space did Alexander Hamilton work and play in? What was life like for black soldiers after the Civil War? How did the earliest settlers really live? How did children learn in rural 19th century America? What did the great families of the gilded age wear? When did people start eating in a ‘dining room’? From whaling ships to one room school houses, Christmas dinner lotteries, to Fifth Avenue homes, bustling 19th century Wall Street to peaceful Midwestern cider making festivals, we traverse American history. Walking through original interiors and dodging rough riders, we end up in the modern age pondering the wild ride that has been American history.
This American Story
Modern and Contemporary
The Met has a world class modern and contemporary collection too often overshadowed by the MoMA. In this tour, we look at the foundational artists that broke down the illusionism of art and asked new questions of themselves and society. From playful and silly to challenging and subversive, we explore the new ways of thinking and looking that modern and contemporary artists have asked us to explore and forced us to confront. Starting with Turner and Manet and ending with the Met’s latest acquisition, we look at modern art from around the world and consider the questions, appropriations, ideas, fears and pleasures they explore.
Around the World in the 3rd Century, 14th Century, 18th Century, 20th Century
One of the great problems with learning history and art history is that things get illuminated to us in a vacuum. We might be able to remember something about Ancient Rome but what else was going on in the world at that time? We can enjoy a sculpture from 13th century India but what kind of art work was being created in 13th century Japan and England and Kenya while this sculptor was at work? We may have heard of Babylon or King Tut but where in the great timeline of civilizations, peoples, and art do they fit? How were their customs different or comparable to those in other regions at that moment? This exploration pinpoints 4 centuries–the 3rd, 14th, 18th, and 20th—and allows us to dive deeply into each and begin to create a picture of the world at that time. We will be contextualizing the time and place each art work was made and what creativity and thinking was developing at the same moment elsewhere.
How did they do that?
Have you ever looked at a work of art and wondered how on earth did they do that? So have I. Let's stop wondering and find out. What is faience, intarsia, fresco? How do painters achieve that translucent skin? Jewelers interconnect such miniscule golden loops? Sculptors get such detail in such hard stone? Massive stained glass cycles start out as a drawing on a piece of wood, pieced together in the designer's mind, and intricate wooden carvings involve finding the natural grooves and faults in grains of wood, complex metallic vases are often pounded out from the inside. Let's look at art on this tour not only as a connoisseur but as a craftsman and finally answer “How did they do that?!”
Isnt it romantic?
The Met is filled with romantic art. From passionate Indian deities to Dutch girls anxiously awaiting a love letter, their are works of art that hint at love, desire, longing and those that fully expose the pleasures and pains of love. Looking at paintings that range from naughty to quizzical, sculptures that tell ancient tales of lost love and desperate yearning, and walking through rooms that by their very nature exude intimacy, warmth and romance, we will find objects and works of art that tell beautiful stories of love and friendship or remind us of the perils of the heart, and whose own history as objects is full of real life romantic drama.
When did the Renaissance get its name? How was art changing, shifting, questioning, reviving what went before and what was it retaining and losing in the process? How were the famed artists—Da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli—creating something new? Looking at fresh developments, the philosophy and theology that informed it, the models that gave it life, the poetry that inspired it, the artists that elevated it, the innovative exploration of color, optics and medium, we closely study Italian and Northern Renaissance art and how it became one of the most influential and reacted against art movements in history.
Art and Literature
This exploration pairs art with literature, and sometimes music. Finding the literary inspiration for a work of art, letters an artist wrote while creating, poems based on themes in a painting, we draw objects into a richer framework and see the ways pairing art and text can allow us a wider window into an era, a society, or world of ideas. Sometimes they will illuminate a person or a culture at others they show us how artists from across millennia can inspire one another. From Keats to Van Gogh, Rumi to ancient Babylon, Confusious to Hokusai—we look, listen and read as we explore the human need to express.
Greatest Stories Ever Told
The Met is one of those rare places where you can find, in one place, many of the greatest stories ever told. From Ancient Iran to 20th century Ireland, Ming Dynasty China to 8th century BC Greece, the Met is filled with those tales and epics, parables and characters that have won a place in the hearts and minds of hundreds of generations of humans. Whether they tell of lost love or cunning plans, great wars or the power of hope they all have in them something that sparked the imagination of artists and related something about the human condition. Exploring those stories and the precise moment in them that an artist decided to enlarge, we look at works from different cultures and works that tell the same story in different ways, reminding us that there is always a different dimension or prism through which to interpet a great story.
What makes something a masterpiece? It’s a word that is increasingly being challenged. Museums are filled with art works that are admired, skillfully made, the epitome of beauty to many eyes, and yet most people would never recognize the name of the artist. Why do Titian, Picasso, Da Vinci perk up ears? Because they changed the game. They took art to a new place. They asked the viewer to change their relationship with seeing. On this tour, we visit works of art that can be called innovative. We look at what their contemporaries were doing and ask "what’s new?" We challenge our own perceptions of what makes a painting, a sculpture, a design, a photograph “great,” raising more questions than answers but hopefully pressing us to constantly question our own ideas of beauty, quality, virtuosity, and taste.
Every time I walk around the Met I think if I were a fashion designer I would come here every day for inspiration.
Besides the world class fashion department at the Met, it is the the centuries of designs and patterns that surround you everywhere that is the real marvel: Egyptian crowns, Renaissance jewelry, Persian rugs, Japanese paintings, Parisian rooms, Minoan vases, on and on. This exploration leads us from men's heels to Iranian carpets, 18th century muslin to French courtly attire—seeking inspiration in far away lands and contemporary cities.
Ancient Greece and Rome
The exhaustive adventures of Hercules, the insatiable sexual appetite of Zeus, the gallant exploits of Theseus and Perseus and their female aides, saviors, and lovers, the mischief of Athena, the festivals of Bacchus along with the arms of the Trojans, the laurel wreaths of the Olympic victors, the graves of the inspiring, the busts of the eternally renowned—can all be studied closely in the exquisite original art made when these myths and gods, legends and heroes were the living culture of the western world. How and why did the stoic coolness of the classical era give way to the tempestuous hyper realism of the Hellenistic, what did bedrooms look like when Vesuvius erupted, how did the Romans live, play, conquer, race and sleep? Find out on this epic adventure through the ancient Greco-Roman world.
The First, the Only, the Supreme
If you want to see things you literally can't see anywhere else, this is the tour for you. The Met has the oldest piano in existence, and one of only three that survive from the workshop of the inventor of the piano, Bartolomeo Cristofori; the first Vermeer painting to enter the United States, the only yoroi ( a type of tenth- to fourteenth-century Japanese cavalry armor) in an American collection, Gauguin's first major Tahitian canvas, the most complex surviving carved amber from ancient Italy, the first Western European prints to give landscape pride of place as a subject rather than background, the only complete French art nouveau interior in an American museum, and the original of a series of Brancusi sculptures that preoccupied him for the next two decades. We look at all these and other unique, rare and unusual objects that give the Met’s collection the world-renown that inspires its millions of visitors to come.