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Friday, April 27, 2012

New Audio Tour by Metropolitan Museum Director Thomas P. Campbell Highlights Masterpieces of the Collection in Eight Languages

A new audio tour of The Metropolitan Museum of Art by Director Thomas P. Campbell will guide visitors through the world-renowned, encyclopedic museum in eight languages—English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Spanish—beginning April 27. In 35 stops, the Director’s Tour offers a broad overview of the Museum as well as commentary on a selection of masterpieces, spaces within the Met, and collecting themes. Mr. Campbell also includes stories from the history of the Met, from the evolution of the building and the collection to some of the notable individuals who shaped the early history of the institution.

Mr. Campbell stated: “We hear often from our visitors—from first-time visitors especially—that they appreciate a guided visit to help them experience the Met in a structured way, whether because of time constraints or because they find the size of the Museum daunting at first. So in this new tour I talk about selected great works of art from around the world and across the millennia that reside in our collections. I also mention key individuals and episodes from the 142-year history of the Met to illustrate how it grew to become one of the largest and finest museums in the world. Visitors can sample portions of the tour of particular interest or walk with me through a wide range of galleries.

“For our international visitors, who now comprise about 40 per cent of our total visitorship,” he continued, “we want to be as welcoming as possible. In addition to making the Director’s Tour available in eight languages, we offer amenities and resources in various languages and will continue to expand them. These include Museum floor plans, a newly published Museum Guidethat features 600 key works of art and will soon be available in five languages besides English, an international visitors desk, guided gallery tours, and additional Audio Guide commentary in various galleries.”

The Audio Guide at the Metropolitan Museum is sponsored by Bloomberg.

Among the individual masterpieces highlighted on the Director’s Tour are: a massive 600 B.C. statue of a kouros (youth), an early example of the Greek fascination with human form; The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing, an Egyptian temple dating to ca. 15 B.C., when Egypt was part of the Roman Empire; a mihrab, or prayer niche, from 14th-century Iran; the Queen Mother Pendant Mask from the African kingdom of Benin; and Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm (1950), a powerful example of the Abstract Expressionist movement. An audio stop in the Carroll and Milton Petrie European Sculpture Court encompasses not only major sculptures by Rodin, Carpeaux, and Canova, but also the Museum’s 1888 carriage entrance façade, which is preserved there, and the view of Central Park and the Egyptian obelisk Cleopatra’s Needleseen through its windows.

One of the stops—about a 15th-century studiolo with dazzling intarsia panels from the Ducal Palace in Gubbio, Italy—is now posted online in all eight languages as a sample message at

The Director’s Tour is accompanied by a map of the Museum. Messages are accessible through random access, using a numbering system that is presented on the map as well as on the labels accompanying the works of art. Yet the tour follows a specific route and each message builds on previous messages. Visitors are also encouraged to go off the route and explore the galleries on their own.

This is the first completely new Director’s tour of the Metropolitan Museum since 1999. Overall, the Museum now offers more than 3600 audio messages relating to the permanent collection by the Museum's curators and other experts, or about 110 hours of commentary. About 250 newmessages about works of art in the collection are produced annually, in addition to audio tours for selected exhibitions. Other foreign-language audio commentary is currently available in the Roman Galleries and through a tour of the Museum’s architecture, as well as at The Cloisters, the Met’s branch museum for medieval art and architecture in upper Manhattan. All messages are available in each audio player.

Over the past year, nearly 200,000 visitors to the Met used the Audio Guide.

The Director’s Tour, part of the Museum’s Audio Guide Program, is available for rental ($7, $6 for Members, $5 for children under 12).

The program was produced by Antenna International.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, founded in 1870, is one of the world’s largest and finest museums. Its collections include nearly two million works of art spanning more than 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe. The Museum’s 2.4 million-square-foot building has vast holdings represented by a series of collections, each of which ranks in its category among the best in the world. Last year the Metropolitan Museum was visited by more than 5.6 million people.

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