Met Aims to Build Itself a Museum-Quality Plaza

February 8, 2012  |   News,   World
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New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art made history in fiscal year 2011 with record attendance of more than 5.6 million. The Met unveiled plans for a comprehensive redesign of the four-block-long outdoor plaza that runs in front of its landmark Fifth Avenue façade, from 80th to 84th Streets in Manhattan.

“Our first priority is to create an appropriate entrance to the greatest encyclopedic museum in the world, one that is attractive and welcoming rather than austere and forbidding,” said Thomas P. Campbell, the Met’s director and chief executive. At the moment, he added, “the plaza is a frying pan in the summer and a wind tunnel in the winter.”

The plan calls for replacing the two long fountains that now flank the front steps with a pair of smaller square ones, made of granite, to be placed closer to the steps, thereby allowing clearer paths to the museum’s 81st and 83rd Street entrances, which are on street level and which many people don’t even know exist. Each fountain will be programmed by computer to provide a variety of water patterns during the warm months. In winter they will become reflecting pools, warmed by recycling steam to prevent freezing. Two sides of each fountain will serve as benches.