Today is the anniversary of the founding in 1870 of New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, created, according to its charter, “for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction.”
With its program of exhibitions, tours, lectures, and concerts, activities for teachers, families, and children of all ages, and collections that include “more than two million works of art spanning five thousand years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe,” it can be regarded as fulfilling its mission.
On every visit to the MMA as far back as I can remember, somewhere I always encounter this guard, whose striking appearance merits depiction in one of the painting or sculpture galleries. I don’t think he’s been there since the founding. But it’s been a while. I hope he is writing his memoirs.
Today is also the anniversary of the enactment of the Edict of Nantes, a 16th century attempt at freedom of worship. For a sketch and a mini-history, please see One small step pour l’homme.