Groundbreaking for new plaza at The Met

Construction started for a new plaza and fountains at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

“Six million pedestrians walk along these sidewalks every year. More than 2,000 museum staff and volunteers enter and exit every day. Thousands more ride by in buses and taxis. We believe all these constituencies will enjoy the new plaza for generations to come,” board of trustees chairman Daniel Brodsky said in a statement. “It will give the Met a portal outside that is truly worthy of the masterpieces that grace our galleries inside. We are pleased to offer our acknowledgment and thanks to the generous donor who has made this project possible: our fellow trustee David H. Koch.”

In addition to the plaza itself, the plan calls for the creation of new fountains to replace the deteriorating ones that have been in use since they were built in the 1970s along with the existing plaza. The fountains will be positioned closer to the museum’s front steps, improving access to its street-level public entrances at 81st and 83rd streets.

Forty years have passed since the last renovation to the Metropolitan Museum’s Fifth Avenue plaza, when the design emphasis focused on accommodating vehicular access. Today, vehicular access on the plaza has become dangerous with the increase in pedestrian traffic and some of the exterior design elements — including the fountains, trees, limited seating, and paving — have aged beyond repair. In particular, no long-term solution had been found for maintaining the fountains. The museum will leave untouched the most iconic element of the prior design, the monumental front steps at 82nd St.

In the new renovation plan, museum access will be improved by providing additional seating options to either side of the grand staircase and by replacing the long fountains currently impeding access to the doors at 81st and 83rd streets. The existing pavement along the facade of the museum will be removed and replaced with new North American granite paving to accommodate pedestrians along myriad routes to and from the doors and steps of the museum.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870. 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.

For information, visit www.metmuseum.org.

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