The Night-Time Met

By Rob Packer

The Met is one of the world’s greatest museums—and if you include The Cloisters, probably the greatest—and I try to swallow the $25 recommended entry fee every time I’m in New York. The collection is spectacularly wide-ranging and the large halls with windows looking out onto the park have beautifully modulated light streaming in through the windows. Though greyish, yesterday was the day for this trip, but by the time we’d come down from The Cloisters and been distracted by food and eyewear on the Upper West, it was already dark as we headed across Central Park.

During the day, the Temple of Dendur comes as a relief after enclosed room after enclosed room of Egyptian funerary art: the light changes and the park opens enormous to the side. At night, the effect is reversed: amply lit galleries come as exposition and give way to the demonstration of the temple* standing aglow behind an oily reflecting pool. The whole gallery feels so sparse as if you were looking at a scale model of a cosmos you barely understand.

The female pharaoh Hatshepsut from another room

Hatshepsut as sphinx.


* Maybe a historically inaccurate impression: the temple was built in post-pharaonic Egypt to glorify Augustus Caesar.

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