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New plans for museum a work of art

By Keith Barber

The painting I wanted to see most was The Sleeping Gypsy (1897) by French artist Henri Rousseau. I had a print of this painting for as long as I can remember, and the chance to actually see the real thing was very exciting to me.

As I approached 1000 Fifth Ave. in New York, I could see the sign: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “Wow”, I thought, “This is the real deal.”

The area in front of the museum was jammed with people, and it was very hard to locate the entrance.

At first, I thought there might be a demonstration of some sort, but in essence, it was just everyday life in the city that doesn’t sleep. The museum, I’ve learned, is a rather busy and popular gathering place. I eventually worked my way in to live a day of splendor in the art world.

Years have passed since my last visit, and I’ve wanted to go back for some time now. And finally, word from New York has encouraged me to dust off my travel plans.

An announcement by the museum board was made recently that involves revamping the entryway. Work on the project will involve construction of a large plaza in front of the museum, stretching from 80th to 84th streets. The main goal is to identify the entrance and manage people congregating outside.

It looks to be a terrific plan, with reconstructed computer-programmed fountains that will replace the two existing and leaking fountains, the removal of dying trees and replacement with more than 80 new trees clipped as topiaries, seating areas, a two-pattern granite sidewalk, kiosk spaces, ample space for tables and chairs, and energy efficient lighting retrofits.

The most exciting part is the new lighting feature. Those familiar with the Beaux-Arts facade of the museum will realize how important the new lighting will have when focusing on the architectural details of the structure. Presently, the museum’s facade is illuminated by floodlights across the street. New LED lighting will be mounted on the building for a striking nighttime show.

The $60 million project could get under way this fall with completion in summer of 2014. The museum hired OLIN of Philadelphia as designer, a firm involved with the redesign of Columbus Circle and Bryant Park.

Rousseau’s exhibit was great. I invite all to meet me on the plaza in summer 2014.

Keith Barber is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. He’s serious about meeting him on the plaza.

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