The Metropolitan Museum of Art Receives Exceptional Bequest from Jayne Wrightsman, Trustee Emerita and Generous Benefactor

The historic bequest includes over $80 million and more than 375 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, decorative art objects, and rare books

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today (November 13, 2019) an exceptional bequest of over 375 works from the late Jayne Wrightsman (1919–2019), Trustee Emerita and one of the most generous Benefactors in the Museum’s history. The bequest includes significant gifts to the departments of Drawings and Prints, European Paintings, and European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, as well as to the Department of Asian Art, the Department of Islamic Art, and The Watson Library. In total, Jayne and her husband Charles Wrightsman (1895–1986) have given more than 1,275 works to The Met.

Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO, states: “Jayne and Charles Wrightsman served as model patrons and standard-bearers for a generation of donors. Their legendary eye for art was exceeded in magnitude only by their unwavering dedication to The Met collection, galleries, and staff. They truly became part of the Museum’s family, and we are eternally grateful for the infinite ways they profoundly impacted—and will continue to impact—this institution.

Max Hollein, Director, states: “Jayne Wrightsman’s extraordinary bequest is a capstone to more than half a century’s worth of inspired acts of generosity. Nearly every aspect of the Museum has benefitted enormously from the Wrightsmans’ devoted patronage. They have enriched the lives of countless visitors to The Met through their gifts of rare, beautiful, and priceless works of art, and their legacy will long be remembered and celebrated by all. The Met would not be what it is today without Jayne and Charles Wrightsman.”

In addition to this gift, Jayne made provisions for substantial additional funding to the existing Wrightsman Fund, of which over $80 million has already been received by The Met. The fund supports ongoing acquisitions of works of art from Western Europe and Great Britain created during the period from 1500 to 1850. The support comes at a time of financial stability for the Museum, as described in its recently released Annual Report for fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018–June 30, 2019). The Wrightsman bequest helped the Museum achieve a total of $211.5 million in new gifts and pledges in FY19. The bequest will also be reflected in the current fiscal year that will end on June 30, 2020, and in years to come as the Wrightsman Fund continues to receive funds that are an ongoing part of the bequest.

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The Met Announces Celebrations for Its 150th-Anniversary Year in 2020

The exhibition Making The Met, 1870–2020 will present more than 250 works of art from the collection while taking visitors on a journey through the Museum’s history.

The reopening of the galleries for British decorative arts and design will reveal a compelling new curatorial narrative.

Transformative New Gifts, Cross-Cultural Installations, And Major International Loan Exhibitions Will Be On View Throughout The Year.

Special Programs And Outreach Will Include A Birthday Commemoration On April 13, A Range Of Public Events June 4–6, And A Story-Collecting Initiative.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced the key components of its 150th-Anniversary Celebration in 2020, including major gifts of art from around the world; exhibitions and displays that will examine art, history, and culture through spectacular objects; and dynamic programs that will engage The Met’s local and global communities. Highlights of the year include the exhibition Making The Met, 1870–2020, the opening of the newly renovated British Galleries, the display of new works of art given to the Museum in honor of its 150th anniversary, the launch of cross-cultural installations, a robust schedule of programs and events, and more.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded in 1870 by a group of American citizens—businessmen and financiers as well as leading artists and thinkers of the day—who wanted to create a museum to bring art and art education to the American people. Today, The Met displays tens of thousands of objects covering 5,000 years of art from around the world for everyone to experience and enjoy. The Museum lives in three iconic sites in New York City— The Met Fifth Avenue (located at 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028), The Met Breuer (located at 945 Madison Ave at 75th Street, New York, NY 10021), and The Met Cloisters (located at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, New York, NY 10040). Millions of people also take part in The Met experience online. Since its founding, The Met has always aspired to be more than a treasury of rare and beautiful objects. Every day, art comes alive in the Museum’s galleries and through its exhibitions and events, revealing both new ideas and unexpected connections across time and across cultures. metmuseum.org

The Met Fifth Avenue (located at 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028) (via www.metmuseum.org)

The Museum’s anniversary is an occasion to celebrate this extraordinary institution, and appreciate the vibrancy and astounding depth and scope of its collection, scholarship, and programs.” — Daniel H. Weiss, the Museum’s President and CEO

Daniel H. Weiss, the Museum’s President and CEO, said, “As we celebrate this milestone occasion, 150 years since our founding on April 13, 1870, we are grateful for the bold vision of our founders, who included a handful of New York City leaders and artists of the day. Over the course of the next 150 years, that vision grew into one of the most important cultural institutions in the world. This anniversary is an exciting moment to celebrate what The Met means to its audience, from the New Yorkers who enjoy the Museum regularly, to the millions of tourists who walk through our doors every year, to those who experience our offerings remotely. It is also an opportunity to reflect on our history, to plan thoughtfully for our future, and to say thank you.”

The Met Breuer (located at 945 Madison Ave at 75th Street, New York, NY 10021) (Via www.metmuseum.org)

He further adds, “The Museum’s anniversary is an occasion to celebrate this extraordinary institution, and appreciate the vibrancy and astounding depth and scope of its collection, scholarship, and programs. This moment is also a time to think deeply about our responsibilities as stewards of this exceptional resource, our commitment to cultivating the understanding and appreciation of art, and the ways in which we can illuminate the connections within cultural histories. The Met strives to be a seminal encyclopedic museum—of the world, for the world, and in the world—and we are grateful to everyone who supports us in achieving that goal.

The Met Cloisters (located at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, New York, NY 10040) (via www.metmuseum.org)

Making The Met, 1870–2020

The centerpiece of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 150th anniversary celebration will be the exhibition Making The Met, 1870–2020. On view March 30–August 2, 2020, the presentation is a museum-wide collaboration that will lead visitors on an immersive, thought-provoking journey through The Met’s history. Organized around transformational moments in the evolution of the Museum’s collection, buildings, and ambitions, the exhibition will reveal the visionary figures and cultural forces that propelled The Met in new directions, from its founding in 1870 to the present day. It will feature more than 250 works of art of nearly every type from The Met collection, including visitor favorites and fragile treasures that can only be displayed from time to time. A range of intriguing topics will be explored, such as the educational and aspirational ideals of The Met’s founders; the discoveries and dilemmas of excavation; the competing forces of progressivism and nationalism that led to the founding of the American Wing; the role of the Museum during wartime; and the evolution at The Met’s centennial toward a truly global approach to collecting. Rarely seen archival photographs, innovative digital features, and stories of both behind-the-scenes work and the Museum’s community outreach will enhance this unique experience. The exhibition will have an audio guide and be accompanied by a catalogue. More information is available at metmuseum.org/Making-The-Met.

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