The Metropolitan Museum of Art Reopens August 29 With 'Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle' and More

  • July 15, 2020 14:55

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detail: Jacob Lawrence (American, 1917–2000). In all your intercourse with the natives, treat them in the most friendly and conciliatory manner which their own conduct will admit . . . —Jefferson to Lewis & Clark, 1803 (detail), 1956. Egg tempera on hardboard, 16 x 12 in. (40.6 x 30.5 cm). Collection of Harvey and Harvey-Ann Ross. © 2020 The Jacob and Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence Foundation, Seattle / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Jacob Lawrence, Panel 11. 120.9.14.286.9.33-ton 290.9.27 be at 153.9.28.110.8.17.255.9.29 evening 178.9.8 – Informer’s coded message, 1955. From Struggle Series, 1954–56. Egg tempera on hardboard. Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University. Gift of Dr. Herbert Kayden and Family. © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it will reopen to visitors on Saturday, August 29. The Met has been closed since March 13, 2020, and had previously not been closed for more than three days in over a century.

Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met, commented, "Perhaps now more than ever the Museum can serve as a reminder of the power of the human spirit and the capacity of art to bring comfort, inspire resilience, and help us better understand each other and the world around us."

When the Met reopens, three new exhibitions will be unveiled: Making The Met, 1870–2020, the signature exhibition of the institution's 150th-anniversary year that will lead visitors on an immersive, thought-provoking journey through The Met's history; The Roof Garden Commission: Héctor Zamora, Lattice Detour, a site-specific installation for The Met's Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, which will be set against dramatic views of Central Park and Manhattan; and Jacob Lawrence: The American Struggle, which will present the American Modernist's striking and little-known multi-paneled series Struggle . . . From the History of the American People (1954–56). 

Organized by the Peabody Essex Museum, the Lawrence exhibition (through Nov. 1, 2020) features the artist's "Struggle" series of sixty 12-by-16-inch tempera-on-board paintings, spanning subjects from the American Revolution to World War I. It was intended to depict, in the artist's words, "the struggles of a people to create a nation and their attempt to build a democracy." Lawrence planned to publish his ambitious project in book form. In the end, he completed thirty panels representing historical moments from 1775 through 1817—from Patrick Henry to Westward Expansion.

The finished works are titled rhetorically, attributed with quotations that emphasize America's early fight for independence and expansionism, as well as oft-overlooked contributions of women and people of color. This more inclusive representation of the nation's past is no less relevant today, and Lawrence's prescient visual reckoning with American history remains profoundly resonant with ongoing issues and debates regarding race and national identity.

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"Opening The Met's doors is an important signal for New York and for all of us. We have never been forced to close for longer than three days—much less five months—and we can't wait to welcome visitors to a wide range of compelling exhibitions and our permanent collection, which spans over 5,000 years of human creativity," said Max Hollein, Director of The Met. 

The Met's Fifth Avenue building—which is over two million square feet—will be open five days a week, Thursday through Monday. On Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, it will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Museum will offer later hours on Thursdays and Fridays and be open from noon to 7 p.m. The Met Cloisters will open in September. A complete list of guidelines and recommendations is available on The Met's website.

Jacob Lawrence, Panel 1. ...Is Life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? – Patrick Henry, 1775, 1955. From Struggle Series, 1954–56. Egg tempera on hardboard. Collection of Harvey and Harvey-Ann Ross. © The Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Foundation, Seattle/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photography by Bob Packert/PEM.

For those who can not travel, visit virtually: Making the Met, 1870-2020 on Google Arts & Culture.


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