An Essential Guide to Visiting the Met | Alyssa J Cori: An Essential Guide to Visiting the Met

July 29, 2020

An Essential Guide to Visiting the Met

I've been having major withdrawals with the Met being closed. BUT it's opening again at the end of August and I cannot wait to get back. Today I'm sharing my essential guide for visiting the Met. With my series, #findmeatthemet, I've gotten to explore so much of this great museum and have decided this makes me an authority on advising your trip. That, plus all of the books I've read on the Met, there's a lot I want to share. I hope that when you get the opportunity to go you enjoy it as much as I do!
Click to read now or pin to save for later. Here is a complete guide to visiting the Met - the metropolitan museum of art in NYC

First things first - how to enter

So you have two good options: 1. the main door on 5th avenue that is the iconic entrance at the top of the stairs. 2. the side entrance at 81st street (and 5th). 

My recommendation is to use the side entrance. The lines are shorter, you walk right past the least crowded coat check, and you can still go to the great hall when you're in the museum. 

How to decide what to see

Let's break this down into different circumstances...

If you are visiting for one day and don't know when you'll be back: In this case, you'll want to see a little bit of everything. If you have some strong preferences or works you want to see, start with those, and then make stops at the other essentials (note: this is informed by my preference, but if you're into, for example, Arts of Africa, by all means make a stop there!):
  1. Walk up the stairs from the 81st street entrance, turn right, and walk down gallery 153 towards the Great Hall. Along the way you get a taste of Greek and Roman art.
  2. Take a look at the Great Hall, then turn left to gallery 300. Don't go up the stairs yet. Walk around them towards the Medieval Art section.
  3. After looking at that section, turn right and go through European Sculpture and Decorative Arts to get to the Arms and Armor section. 
  4. Next, enter the American Wing to your left and see what grabs your attention there. 
  5. Now head over to the Temple of Dendur.
  6. We're done with the first floor! I mean, there is more to see, but if we only have one day, we need to go up to the second floor now.
  7. I would spend the bulk of your time on the second floor in the 19th and Early 20th Century European and Sculpture section. 
  8. Wrap up your day with whatever special exhibits are going on in galleries 999 and 899, and stop by the roof to get some nice pictures of you and the city.

If you're a repeat guest and want to go deeper into the museum: I have my preferences, like seeing the snuff boxes and complete rooms on the first floor in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts section, but if Asian art is more your thing, make sure to check out the Chinese courtyard in gallery 217. 

The Costume Institute on the ground floor usually has some fun exhibit showing and the Modern and Contemporary Art section has been evolving. 

My favorite exhibit is the Dutch Masterpieces, behind the Medieval art section. I literally go there every time I visit. 

Check out my Instagram highlight for other ideas of what to see. I start each story by circling the section on the map I'm visiting so you'll know exactly where to go. 

What to eat

I would recommend going in the morning after you've already eaten breakfast and getting a light snack for lunch if you feel you need some sustenance. Joe and I had a great experience at The Dining Room, but we went there after the museum had closed, so it's not exactly a casual stop when you're visiting. 


There are always tours offered throughout the day, and you can also use audio guides. I haven't use the audio guides before, I prefer to read each description and do my own research, but it's a great way to get the highlights if you don't want to do a tour. 

What to wear

Comfortable shoes are a must, plus a sweater in case you feel chilly. In order to optimize your experience, optimize your comfort. 

Where to take pictures

  • On the steps outside
  • On the steps off the Great Hall
  • By the reflecting pool and Temple of Dendur
  • On the first floor in the Greek and Roman art section
  • In the Charles Engelhard Court, gallery 700
There you have it - an essential guide to visiting the greatest art museum in the world! Anything else you'd like to know about? Let me know in the comments!

-Alyssa J

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