Affectionately known as 'the Met', The Metropolitan Museum of Art was established in 1870 and has been residing in its current Upper East Side location since 1880. The Met is now one of the world's great art centres and within its Beaux-Arts façade are over two million objects representing more than 5,000 years of history.
The ancient Egyptian hippo statuette, dubbed 'William', is the Met's unofficial mascot and just one of the 26,000 items which make up the largest collection of Egyptian art outside of Cairo. The other main collections housed in the museum include 2,500 European paintings, the arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, Greek and Roman art and the Robert Lehman Collection of Old Masters. The latest additions to the exhaustive collections include New Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia; and the reopening of the Met's New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture and Decorative Arts.
It would take weeks to properly view all the treasures housed within the five floors of the Met. However, there are some must-see exhibits. The Temple of Dendur circa 15 B.C. is an entire Egyptian temple from the Roman period displayed in its atrium surrounded by a moat-like pool of water. One of the highlights of the Asian wing is the stunning artisan courtyard based on a 17th-century garden near Shanghai, while the Triumph of Dionysus and the Season Sarcophagus, an ancient Roman coffin, is a must for admirers of the classics.
With so many treasures to view, it's worth hiring an audio guide to make the most of your visit - US$7 for adults and US$5 for children under 12. If you need a break, there are nine dining spots ranging from cafes to restaurants as well as the Met store – a destination in its right. To visit the Met from the west side of Manhattan, take the 1 train to 86th Street, then the M86 crosstown bus across Central Park to Fifth Avenue. Museum admission is US$25 for adults, US$12 for kids over 12 and children under 12 enter for free.