Museum Masterpieces: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Course No. 7510
Professor Richard Brettell, Ph.D.
The University of Texas, Dallas
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Course No. 7510
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Course Overview

Where else can you find masterpieces extending from the dawn of civilization to today; or encyclopedic holdings from all the major cultures on earth; or genres ranging from paintings to period rooms, sculpture to suits of armor, metalwork to musical instruments—all situated in a palatial building beside one of the world's most magnificent parks?

No other museum covers the history of humanity and its achievements as thoroughly as The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Professor Richard Brettell believes that The Metropolitan Museum of Art is not just the greatest art museum in America, but that it is also the most complete encyclopedic art museum on the planet, rivaled only by the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, whose collections have significant gaps by comparison.

A Consummate Guide

Professor Brettell is a scholar, an author, a teacher, and a former museum director, known to many Teaching Company customers for his dazzling investigation of a much-loved period in From Monet to Van Gogh: A History of Impressionism and his overview of a legendary cultural icon in Museum Masterpieces: The Louvre. Above all, he is a consummate guide who delights in selecting superb works of art and then exploring their resonance with other works. For example, in this course he exploits The Metropolitan Museum of Art's wide-ranging holdings to draw your attention to masterpieces that share intriguing similarities, linking different cultures, genres, and periods:

  • Two noble countenances: Auguste Rodin's lifelike portrait bust of Honoré de Balzac from 1891 evokes, in its realistic power, the remarkable 4,000-year-old copper head of a ruler in the museum's Ancient Near Eastern Art collection.
  • A study in forms: The overlapping abstract forms of Willem de Kooning's 1949 painting Attic strikingly recall the figures crowded onto the surface of Roman funerary sarcophagi or the swarming melee in Nicolas Poussin's The Abduction of the Sabine Women.
  • Mother and child: Every culture uses art to depict the bond between mother and child. Professor Brettell chooses four paradigmatic examples: an early Italian painting by Berlinghiero, a 14th-century Indian copper sculpture, a pre-Hispanic Olmec figurine, and a Renaissance relief by Andrea della Robbia.

Many Museums under One Roof

In these 24 visually rich, half-hour lectures, Professor Brettell takes you through The Metropolitan Museum of Art from front to back, from bottom to top, introducing practically every department in the museum. Each is a museum unto its own, representing one of the world's finest collections in its field. You will see an astonishing number of works—more than 400 in all—focusing on Professor Brettell's favorites, and in the process touching on virtually all of the best-known pieces in the museum, and many more besides. His is a personal tour, driven by his enthusiasm and a ceaseless curiosity to see riches of The Metropolitan Museum of Art unknown even to him.

Your journey begins in Lecture 1 with a brief history of the museum, Central Park, and the city itself. Then you proceed up the broad steps facing Fifth Avenue and into the museum's Great Hall. Lectures 2–5 take you to the complex of galleries at the front of the building, dealing with the civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, ancient Egypt, Asia, the ancient Near East, and the Islamic world.

Then in Lectures 6–9 you return to the Great Hall and ascend the grand staircase to The Metropolitan Museum of Art's outstanding collection of European paintings, covering the Renaissance to the 19th century. Here you find masterpieces by Giotto, Raphael, Dürer, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, and many others. Lectures 10 and 11 cover the nearby Department of Drawings and Prints, which has the largest holdings in the museum, plus the Department of Photographs; these collections are largely in storage, and you will see treasures that are normally not on display.

Lectures 12–15 take you to galleries in the heart of The Metropolitan Museum of Art on the first floor, devoted to European decorative arts and sculpture, along with the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the ancient New World. These four lectures present a study in contrasts, covering the height of European culture represented by its rooms, furniture, statues, and other objects, followed by a survey of some of the world's most powerful non-European art, including masks, figures, and ritual vessels produced on three continents and countless islands over a span of 3,500 years.

Lecture 16 is a study in contrasts itself, featuring musical instruments, arms, and armor. Then in Lecture 17 you descend to The Metropolitan Museum of Art's ground floor to investigate fashion and fabrics at the Costume Institute and the Antonio Ratti Textile Center, whose extensive holdings are rarely seen by most visitors.

In a great sweep across the back of the museum, you study American art in Lectures 18 and 19; you sample 20th-century art in Lectures 20 and 21; and you tour the Robert Lehman Collection in Lectures 22 and 23, exploring a wing devoted to one of the most extraordinary gifts of art by a single individual. These six lectures feature scores of artists such as Sargent, Whistler, Picasso, Matisse, Goya, and Renoir. Lecture 24 concludes the course with a look at some of The Metropolitan Museum of Art's most illustrious donors and directors.

You would have to move through the museum at superhuman speed to take in all of the works investigated in detail in the 12-hour running time of this course. Yet the experience with Professor Brettell is one of a relaxed stroll with a very knowledgeable, very personable, and ceaselessly curious companion. The course is truly a user-friendly guide to a mammoth institution that has amassed astonishing treasures.

Where Did All These Masterpieces Come From?

One of the fascinating aspects of this course is that Professor Brettell provides insights from the curator's point of view. For instance, he notes that museum directors and curators have an idiosyncratic way of reading labels: They start at the bottom, which lists the donor and year of acquisition. "Those of us in the profession are interested in the stories of the formation of the great American art institutions, which are stories about donors." Some of these stories include:

  • In 1946 Gertrude Stein spurred the museum to start collecting modern art in earnest by bequeathing the famous portrait of her by Picasso.
  • The year 1969 saw the donation of an entire museum by Nelson Rockefeller: The Museum of Primitive Art, which formed the nucleus for the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.
  • In 1971 the museum used donated funds to pay a record price for Velázquez's remarkable portrait Juan de Pareja—a likeness "so quiveringly alive," says Professor Brettell, "that you can't believe that the man won't walk out of the picture!"

Feed Your Imagination

A great art collection like The Metropolitan Museum of Art's is a place for dreamers, thinkers, and time travelers. It is a world where you can connect to people and cultures that are long vanished. "Great works of art communicate across time," says Professor Brettell. They evoke distinctive people, ways of life, and points of view that are both familiar and strange, and that put the present into a more universal context. A brooding sculpture, an intricate piece of jewelry, a reconstructed room with meticulous period furnishings, a powerfully painted portrait or landscape—these and other works of human craft and genius feed the imagination and satisfy the soul in ways that are hard to pin down, but that open a limitless vista of learning and enjoyment.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    The Making of the Museum
    Using maps, charts, photographs, paintings, and prints, this lecture provides a historical portrait of New York City and the circumstances that spawned its greatest museum. x
  • 2
    The Art of Ancient Greece and Rome
    We begin our tour of The Metropolitan in the Classical collection, which occupies large spaces of a grandeur suited to Greco-Roman art. x
  • 3
    Ancient Egyptian Art
    The Egyptian collection ranges from entire tombs and temples to tiny objects of gold, glass, and ceramic, with particularly rich holdings in "the art of the afterlife." x
  • 4
    Asian Art
    These galleries contain masterpieces from Tibet, India, Cambodia, Korea, China, and Japan. Especially notable is the Astor Court, which is modeled on a Ming dynasty scholar's courtyard. x
  • 5
    The Ancient Near East and Islamic Art
    Extending from Bronze Age objects to a glorious room from an Islamic palace, these collections show the mastery of glass, ceramic, stone carving, and bronze in successive urban cultures. x
  • 6
    European Painting I—The Renaissance
    The Metropolitan is famous for its Department of European Painting. We investigate the development of figural illusionism in works by Giotto, Fra Angelico, and others. x
  • 7
    European Painting II—16th–17th Centuries
    Covering the High Renaissance and the extraordinary profusion of painting in Europe for the next two centuries, this lecture includes works by Raphael, Vermeer, El Greco, Velázquez, and Rembrandt. x
  • 8
    European Painting III—18th Century
    Works examined include Italian paintings by Tiepolo and Canelletto, French Rococo oils by Watteau and Boucher, and British portraits by Reynolds and Gainsborough. x
  • 9
    European Painting IV—19th Century
    The Metropolitan has perhaps the most balanced collection of French painting from 1830 to 1900 in any universal art museum. We look at works by Monet, Cézanne, and Gauguin, among others. x
  • 10
    Drawings and Prints
    We sample some of the more than 1.5 million objects in the Department of Drawings and Prints, which includes the entire range of drawing styles and materials from the Late Middle Ages to the present. x
  • 11
    Photography, the most pervasive of modern media, is well represented at The Metropolitan, with a collection extending back to the earliest experiments in the early 19th century. x
  • 12
    European Decorative Arts
    In an exercise of time travel, we visit luxuriously appointed period rooms representing high European culture—from an Italian Renaissance studiola to an 18th-century Parisian grand salon. x
  • 13
    European Sculpture
    The Metropolitan's European sculpture collection includes Renaissance works in stone, bronze, and terra-cotta, and masterpieces by artists such as Bernini and Canova. x
  • 14
    The Arts of Africa and Oceania
    The intricately crafted objects in this lecture include a feather box, a ceremonial shield, and a painted wooden skull rack from Oceania, as well as powerful masks and sculpted figures from Africa. x
  • 15
    The Ancient New World
    We survey a collection of materials from the rich cultures of the Americas before European colonization, the most comprehensive display of ancient New World Art in any universal art museum. x
  • 16
    Musical Instruments and Arms and Armor
    This lecture looks at major masterpieces in the arts of making music and war. The Departments of Musical Instruments and Arms and Armor both feature stunning examples from the histories of their fields. x
  • 17
    Costumes and Textiles
    New York's preeminence as a fashion center led The Metropolitan to create the Costume Institute and the Antonio Ratti Textile Center to study collections of historical fashions and fabrics. x
  • 18
    American Art—1650–1865
    Starting in period rooms from the colonial era, we explore the development of a distinctive American art up to the Civil War through works by Revere, Stuart, Copley, Hicks, Cole, Church, and others. x
  • 19
    American Art—1865–1900
    America entered an industrial boom after the Civil War that created a new demand for art in a wide range of genres. We sample pieces by Tiffany, Saint-Gaudens, Eakins, and Sargent, among others. x
  • 20
    20th-Century Art—Before World War II
    The Metropolitan's encyclopedic holdings allow comparisons between its 20th-century collection and its other works—for example, a Brancusi sculpture and an archaic Greek figure. x
  • 21
    20th-Century Art—After World War II
    We explore The Metropolitan's post–World War II art, including abstract expressionists such as Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, and David Smith, as well as Pop, Op, and other movements. x
  • 22
    The Robert Lehman Collection—1400–1800
    A remarkable private collection kept intact after its donation to The Metropolitan, the Lehman Collection is rich in old master paintings and drawings. We sample its holdings up to 1800. x
  • 23
    The Robert Lehman Collection—1800–1960
    The Lehman Collection has important works from the 19th and 20th centuries. We examine paintings by Ingres, Corot, Monet, Renoir, Matisse, Derain, Bonnard, and Balthus, as well as works on paper. x
  • 24
    The People of the Museum
    The Metropolitan has been built by farsighted directors and generous donors. We look at some of the most remarkable of these. x

Lecture Titles

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DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
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Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 160-page printed course guidebook
  • List of works discussed
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

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Your professor

Richard Brettell

About Your Professor

Richard Brettell, Ph.D.
The University of Texas, Dallas
Dr. Richard Brettell is the Margaret McDermott Distinguished Professor of Art and Aesthetics at The University of Texas at Dallas. He earned his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Yale University. Prior to joining The University of Texas at Dallas, Professor Brettell taught at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, Yale University, and Harvard University. Professor Brettell was the founding American director of the...
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Museum Masterpieces: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 78.
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Check Out a Different Museum This course was given to me as a surprise gift from a very dear friend in order to cheer me up at a point awhile back when I was feeling rather depressed. While this was the shortest course I had from the Great Courses (only 24 lectures), it felt as though it was going to be one of the longer ones. I wasn't very far into the course when I began to realize how disappointed I was becoming. The instructor, while certainly well-credentialed, oftentimes seemed to "hold back" on pertinent information, instead citing more trivial notes about the piece in question (although, in at least 2 instance, I wasn't convinced he was still discussing what the course outline claimed him to be). The instructor does cover the Met by its various sections, so the course is fairly representative of the museum. Naturally, just as if visiting the actual museum, there are going to be sections that I truly enjoy, and others for which I really don’t have much interest. But this is not what is at issue. While I should have been totally geeked when a lecture containing discussion on Constable or Van Ruisdael came about, I wasn’t. The presentation was lacking to such a degree that I found myself getting distracted frequently even when pieces by my “heroes of the art world” were discussed. I wound up returning this course, applying its credit towards the purchase of a different course. Yes, I am an evil, despicable human being for trading in a gift - especialy given the thought behind this one. However, I wound up enjoying the replacement course immensly. I suppose that one day soon, I will confess my contemptable actions to that dear&thoughtful friend....
Date published: 2011-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Not an art course per se - watch then go to NY! Although I live in the Southeast, I have been to the Met many times on trips to New York City. This is a wonderful course to increase your enjoyment of the museum. I, like other reviewers, learned plenty about art, but I think that you should be cautioned if you are interested only in the art. If you aren’t going to go to New York this course might be fun, but there are much better choices from TTC that you should see first. This is definitely a course about a museum, and its history, not only its contents. It succeeds in that goal, and I enjoyed it very much. A note about structure is important if you are concerned with the amount of oil paintings that you will see in this course. If that is a top priority, please do pursue better options. The lecturer has decided to dedicate lectures to each department within the museum. The lectures titles reveal this structure. The Met is absolutely enormous, so you will only see a handful of highlights from each department. As he points out in the lectures, you might decide not to visit a department after his overview. This would be an appropriate, since it is impossible to see the entire museum in one visit. I discovered pieces through the lectures that I hadn’t seen in a dozen visits. I might recommend that this course is a great way to plan a trip, but could never possibly be a substitute for visiting the museum. One might want to supplement their trip preparation with a visit to the Met’s own website, or consider getting a catalog of the collection. The Met has wonderful tours. This course can help you prioritize, and then, on arrival, take a focused one department tour. You won’t need the very good “highlights” tour. Check ahead as the focused tours are only once per day. As a frequent visitor to the Met (I have been a member on and off), what did I learn? It gave me a foot hold in departments that I don’t know very well. For instance, I am less bewildered in the Roman and Greek collections. The biggest discovery for me was the Lehman collection. Brettell is a bit of a scholar in this area, and it opened up a whole new world for me within the museum. I dedicated a museum visit to just this one section after seeing the lectures. Since the Lehman collection is diverse, I actually recommend it as the best place to go if you are rushed on a first visit. Also, I learned a lot about the museum’s history and its role in New York’s history. I enjoyed this material, and I am glad that it was part of the course. Brettell is my favorite art lecturer at TTC. When he describes art he has a very subjective style which I enjoy. His course on the Impressionist movement is my favorite TTC art course.
Date published: 2011-08-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from has potential, but too many problems An overview of the Met, what could be better? Actually, a lot. The lecturer talks nonstop, but only occasionally says anything illuminating (on several of the 30 min lectures he gabs about himself or drifts into hagiographic drivel for 6-7 min before presenting anything of substance. How many times can you hear: "wonderful" painting from this "wonderful" artist that was donated by the "amazing" collector blah, blah, blah and you really must visit soon). It quickly becomes tedious. He should have been coached to say less and use more meaningful, less repetitive descriptions. When he finally gets around to presenting items, he does a good job with visuals, even if the accompanying explanations are thin or strangely "personal" (he includes numerous detail closeups in hi-res, some highlighted sectionals and a few 360s). But it's punishing to get to the meager rewards. Near the end, I wound up fast forwarding through the gibberish to get to the presentations of art. It's definitely not a keeper. Unlike The Teaching Co's Shakespeare Tragedies (Kinney) or Anatolia (Harl), I could never see myself revisiting these disks. Final note: It may have been an imposed limitation from the Met, but there are disappointingly few pieces shown here and none reproduced in the booklet for quick reference. Compare: DVD Architectures 1-5 by ARTE (available Amazon and Netflix).
Date published: 2011-06-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good overview of the Met layout This course is good if one would like an overview of the museum history and floor plan. Key pieces are identified, however, if one wants details on any art it'll be time for self study (or other Teaching Company lectures). The instructor wasn't the "ummm" best lecturer but the course is certainly worth buying on sale.
Date published: 2010-12-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from the greatest i love this it is the best way to express this article this is brillant
Date published: 2010-10-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Introduction Another wonderful contribution by The Teaching Company to anyone interested in art, art students, and persons interested in the museum's collection or the experience of visiting the museum. Those planning potential visits to NY would find this series very useful in advance of visiting the museum. This series is highly recommended.
Date published: 2010-09-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A Promising Idea Disappoints This course was a surprising disappointment, and it certainly did not have the depth of the many other Teaching Company courses we have purchased and enjoyed (including Professor Brettell's course on impressionism). There was simply too much "filler" and wasted time, time that could have been devoted to consideration of art from the collection. For example, in lecture 6, on early Renaissance art, the first 4 minutes of the lecture (well over 10% of the total time) were devoted almost exclusively to an unnecessary "rehash" of unrelated areas that had been discussed in previous lectures. Especially annoying was the repeated cartoon of the museum floor plan, in which viewers 'walked up the stairs,' turned left or right to follow arrows, or 'stopped by the information desk to purchase a ticket.' Please credit viewers with the intelligence to figure how to walk up stairs or turn with one demonstration, not multiple demonstrations. There were altogether too many images of Brettell standing in front of some artwork in one of the galleries. While occasionally helpful to give a sense of scale, there was too often no real reason for the image. Better to show the art work itself. In the later lectures, repetition again served as "filler," in which the same image was shown and the same points made on several occasions (for example, the idea that almost every culture has portrayed mother-child relationships, or children, or....) As always, the technical standards of the Teaching Company were excellent.
Date published: 2010-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Delightful Series This must be a great series of lectures as I went through them so quickly. Professor Brettell has presented a wonderful glimpse into the glories of the Met.
Date published: 2010-08-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wonderful Tour Museum Masterpieces: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Prof. Bretrell provided viewers with a great tour of the MET. It was like having my own personal tour guide. I've only made one brief trip to the MET, but after the course, I hunger to get back and see the many things I missed, as it's impossible to see everything in one visit. Prof. Bretrell is friendly in his delivery and knowledgeable about the works. He provided a comprehensive overview of the collections, including some things, like prints and photographs, that aren't generally accessible to the public. His analysis and observations of the works provided insight and a greater depth of understanding. I highly recommend this course!
Date published: 2010-08-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Masterful Overview I bought this course as part of a set with the Masterpieces of the Louvre and watched the course on the Louvre first. While the Louvre course, by design, is limited to paintings with only a very brief overview of the entire museum, this course does a masterful job of giving a complete overview of the collections of the Metropolitan, including areas available only on invitation, such as the major collection of prints, photos and fabrics. With its millions of items, any overview of this museum has to be highly selective but Dr. Brettell gives more than just a description and mapping of the museum , he gives a real feel for what each of its departments contain and makes you comfortable in exploring the richness of such a vast collection. As a result of his lectures, I will be seeking out areas of the museum I would never have otherwise explored. For example, I will be seeking out the reconstructed room of Frank Lloyd Wright that is on display. And my next visit will be with more of a plan and a sense of confidence when I am exploring this vast complex without the uneasy feeling one normally has when faced with a major world class museum like the Metropolitan. That feeling of being overwhelmed and running from one major object in your guidebook to the next or being glued to the earpiece of an art tour trying to understand one work of art after another. My purpose in acquiring this course was for my son and his family who live on the Jersey shore but who have the opportunity of regularly visiting the major attractions of NYC including the Metropolitan. I thought it would give them an overview so they can select in advance of their next visit the areas of the Metropolitan they want to explore in the time they have. I was not disappointed since I think this course will give them just that opportunity. And I think they will have a better understanding of what they are seeing. What surprised me was the degree to which Dr. Brettell could include in depth teaching about various works of art while covering the vastness of the various collections; comparing and contrasting periods and styles and giving a sense of how art has changed over time and yet how it retains its roots in prior works of art. His section on prints covers the various techniques of print making from wood cuts to copper etching to lithography while his lecture on photography discusses the various advances in early photography. In each case he gives a thumbnail background without emphasizing the technology over the art form. I am sure that faults can be found but those I noted were quite minor. For example, at one point he refers to El Greco as having been born in Cyprus where in fact he was born in Fodele in Crete where they have a minor museum dedicated to him. My guess is he misspoke and meant Crete. Hardly a glaring error. His presentation in the Metropolitan course is much improved over the Louvre and he mixes up his images in such a way as to keep your attention. While I enjoyed his Louvre course and can recommend it I enjoyed this course much more. In both cases I look forward to going through it again to absorb all that it has to offer. When I first started acquiring courses from the Teaching Company I assumed that once through the course would be sufficient but as with many of the other courses I find that it will take more than one viewing to get the most of many of the courses including this one. I can highly recommend the course for anyone who enjoys visiting the Metropolitan and especially for those planning a visit and who want to get the most out of the time they will have to explore its collections. With this course and a good guidebook you will well armed to make the most of your visit.
Date published: 2010-08-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from outstanding The Met brought me down to my humble Polish knees during my first visit in 1987 when I emigrated to America. The wealth of the collection can make one dizzy with the abundance of masterpieces crowded in one building (or a set of buildings). This is one of the most amazing museums in the world (I have seen 97% of them). Since, I have visited the Met only 3 times and each time I left with the same awe. But this is not enough, I want more! Now, after seeing professor"s Brettel excellent, passionate, well organized and emphatic presentation I want to go back and see it again. One needs a whole week to spend there: one-day, 5-6 hours is numbing and one cannot absorb the full load of it. Buy this course and then plan your trip to N.Y.!
Date published: 2010-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Helpful I used this course in advance of, and during, my weeklong visit to the Met. It was most helpful in identifying the departments of this vast museum that I most wanted to see, and in identifying some of the individual pieces that had particular significance, and why. Using this course in conjunction with my visit makes me feel that my travel investment was used wisely and that I made the most of my time there.
Date published: 2010-05-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Overview of an Overwhelming Museum I live in the NY metropolitan area and I am happy to have the opportunity to have this megalopolis of a museum explained to me. Like other Met visitors, I am overwhelmed as soon as I walk in and usually end up going to only one or two rooms. The Met can't be truly understood by going to it - but it can be understood by this course.
Date published: 2010-02-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great one - by Prof. Brettell I admit that Prof. Brettell is my favorite Tecahing Company's professor. Although ithat opinion s based mainly on his Impressionism course, this one on the Metropolitan Museum is also excellent. He takes us on a tour of the entire museum - its history as well as highlight of the collection. I can't wait to visit the musem again with this course as a guide.
Date published: 2009-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best museum survey Like his Louvre course, this should be required watching if you have ever been to, plan to go, or want to go to the Met. This course goes several steps further than the Louvre course in that it covers every department, which requires the breadth of knowledge and access that only a former museum curator can provide. By covering every department (even musical instruments), this course provides an overview of all of art, from ancient to modern, from virtually all regions. It reinforces how impressive of a museum the Met is, and in my mind it is the most complete museum in the world. Few museums can match its collections in any single department, and taken collectively, the Met has an unrivalled collection. In particular, its American art collection is stronger than anywhere outside of the U.S., and is up there with any other American museum. It has an impressive Egyptian art collection, and the temple of Dendur is a must see. This is a course which you will want to revisit multiple times.
Date published: 2009-11-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from whether you can go or not,... buy this course, if you love art. i love the met and have had the good fortune to be able to visit the museum almost each year. i have the feel of the museum, its nooks and crannies, and, of course, the great satisfaction of seeing, studying, and appreciating many of its vast collection of art treasures. brettell does a very good job in this course of delivering the feel of the museum and its experience as well as helpful and strong insights into the beauty and meaning of some of its finest pieces. i would like to see the teaching company step up the strength of its art teachers as to aesthetics, but brettell is more than adequate. if you're a lover of art and have never been to the met and are not going soon, this course will be a real treat. if you are going, here's a tip: augment this course by renting the audio guide of selections by philippe de montebello, the museum's former director. it's outstanding.
Date published: 2009-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from BETTER THAN A VISIT It's like having a good friend come with you to one of the great world museums, a friend who is knowledgable about art. The course works on that level. Next time I go to the Met, I will definitely get more out of it. But it works at the level of pure art appreciation as well. Like the best art courses, you come away from this a changed person, a person more open to the artistic possibilities of the world. I'm glad I bought it. The second viewing was even better than the first!
Date published: 2009-09-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Content, Organization, Weaker Presentation Museum Masterpieces: The Metropolitan Museum of Art is a tour through the art history of the world seen through samples of the collection of the Met in New York City. It includes historical notes on the Met and its collection. The course is well-organized and should be especially valuable to someone who lacks experience in studying art of all kinds to understand and appreciate it. It gives some feeling for the immense scope and depth of the Met's many collections; less so for the overwhelming vastness of the building itself. (There are entire museums smaller than the Met's gift shop.) The weakness of this course is its presentation. There are a number of slips of the tongue in the lecturer's delivery. This is disappointing; it is clear that he does have his facts in order. It could have been carefully reviewed for accuracy and edited with a touch-up session. Of greater import, I felt that the video production fell short of its goals. The visual images of the items from the museum's collection often were not presented soon enough, or were not presented well enough during the lecture. In fairness, this course probably taxes the Teaching Company's production staff in a way that a straight lecture course does not. The producers must have had extensive cooperation from the Met, and it is hard to guess how much additional time could have been spent photographing items in the collection. On the whole, a good course; if I could I'd give it three and a half stars.
Date published: 2009-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from MET MUSEUM OF ART A LA BRETTELL Five stars are not enough. The lectures are so engrossing that you think they have just started when he is recapping and concluding. The mastery this professor has is breathtaking. I've gone to the Met many times before, but this course has given me a new view of the treasures the Museum holds. Dr. Brettell has given me key exhibits to see very carefully instead of just breezing through. The Museum is huge, and Dr. Brettell has wisely counseled us to see only one or two exhibits at one time to truly understand and enjoy and appreciate the art. I'm heading for the newly-renovated Greek/Roman Hall when I visit the Met again soon, and then I'll take a righthand turn into Oceania. After that, coffee with friends! Now I know a wiser way to go to all museums. Thank you, Dr. Brettell.
Date published: 2009-07-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Course I can't praise this course highly enough, and I've bought some great ones from TTC. Dr. Bretell inspired a now-scheduled trip to New York, and I recently went to the Baltimore Museum of Art and the National Gallery with a new interest in fine art. I'm new to appreciating art and art museums, but you can't ask for much more from a course than that it stimulate you to investigate further on your own. For what it's worth, I'd love to view courses by Dr. Bretell on the National Gallery and the Philadelphia and Boston Museums of Art - sort of an I-95 Museum Masterpieces sub-series.
Date published: 2009-06-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Privileged Viewing Museum Masterpieces: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Taught by Richard Brettell 24 lectures on DVD Dr. Brettell at present has produced three excellent Teaching Company's Art Series on DVD .These include From Monet to Van Gogh: A history of Impressionism and two DVD sets in the Museum Masterpieces series, one titled The Louvre and this volume on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York . For those that have not had the opportunity to visit these collections, the Museum Masterpiece series are a particularly unique chance to gain an in depth appreciation of an individual museum. Likewise the DVDs are an indispenable resource for those planing to make the visit. The DVD series starts with the historical background of the Met, beginning as a vision for a national institution of art in the United States. It then follows its history up through the 21st century. The series then follows collection by collection first through the antiquities of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. Other significant collections such as European Painting (which recieved four 30 minute lecture ) and American Art are highlighted just to mention a few. The lectures are especially suited to be a stand alone reference for repeat viewing if a particular topic is of interrest or if a future visit is planed.The works are discussed in the historical context in which they were created. Many times in this series, works from distinctly different times and places were compared from one part of the collection to another. Dr. Brettell provides us with the benefit of his depth and breadth of knowlege of the subject. He is enthusiastic and well organized throughout. It is a privilege to have this resource on DVD from the The Teaching Company .This series is a fantastic companion to the many other excellent Art courses in the collection.
Date published: 2009-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Next best thing to being there! I thoroughly enjoyed this course. Professor Brettell has infectious enthusiasm and passion as the best museum tour guide one could ever want. If you cannot visit the New York Met, this course provides such an interesting overview it is the next best thing to being there. All the Teaching Company courses I have "taken" begin with an introductory lecture on the rest of the series, but Professor Brettell's introductory lecture for this course is the best -- a beautiful set up before you open that museum door. We started with Prof. Brettell's course on the Louvre and enjoyed that so much we got this one. Now we are enjoying his next course on the history of Impressionism. Where was he when I went to college?
Date published: 2009-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from enhanced my visit to the Met If you are considering a visit to the Metropolitan, this course will substantially enhance it. I've been to the Met several times over the years and taken several professionally led tours in the process, but Bretel's presentation is superior. He not only has a sophisticated understanding, but he also knows how to make it accessible to a first-time visitor to the Met. You can pick and choose from the 24 lectures freely, based on which exhibits you plan to see. The individual lectures stand on their own.
Date published: 2009-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Makes us want to visit all the museums we can We enjoyed this course very much. Of course he could cover only a tiny bit of what the Metropolitan Museum of Art has to offer! It would be nearly impossible to do otherwise. He made excellent selections of works to feature, and he did an excellent job of showing the connections between works and worlds and eras. We enjoyed learning about the history of the museum and the people who helped make it what it is today. We are glad for our brief visit there in 2001 and would love to go back someday.
Date published: 2009-01-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Pocket Guide to the Met, A Must for Any Tourist Richard Brettell is just one of several quality TTC lecturers on art history, so it could be difficult to decide between viewing Brettell, Kloss, Scallen, Soltes, or Wallace. Of course, having to pick and choose from among such scholars is really the delightful sort of problem we wish we always had, since each lecturer has their own appealing and perhaps not so appealing facets to them. Richard's courses seem to appeal most to the functional side of the subject, with his last two courses being part of a "Museum Masterpieces" series. This particular course on the Met is so good, that it makes me feel I've been there. Which of course is missing the point, we all should go there to see the artworks in person. Yet many of us can't, at least not all too soon, and this course seems to be the next best thing. The graphics of the course are very helpful, showing not just the objects, but sometimes showing Richard viewing them are helpful, to get a sense of their dimensions. The graphics of the locations of the various departments in the Met is also a big plus. Richard almost coaches us, so we can learn how best to visit the museum, how to get the most out of it. He constantly tells us about his own visits and experiences there over the years. These are valuable perspectives in learning about the evolution of the Met itself, almost as a piece of artwork in its own right. Richard Brettell certainly has now certainly carved out his own niche among the impressive list of TTC art history lecturers and courses. That is really saying something, taking into account the high quality of previous TTC art history programs, especially from William Kloss and William Wallace. Richard's "Museum Masterpieces" series is basically unlimited in potential, for museums in the US or across the globe. We can only hope that he continues to produce them for many years to come.
Date published: 2009-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This course was very good- however, due to the riches of the Met- skimmed only the surface.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Richard Brettell is an outstanding authority, teacher with great charm. He makes the course a super joy for the viewer.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Had I not taken this course, my recent visit to the Met would have been entirely overwhelming. I knew where to go, what to see and considerable buckground on the museums most important pieces.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Richard Brettell is superbly well-qualified, full of enthusiasm and sincerely wants to build appreication of both art and the remarkable institution that the Met is.
Date published: 2008-10-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Brettell's lectures are always of the highest quality and almost satisfying and enjoyable learning experience.
Date published: 2008-10-17
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