February 20th 1872: Met opens


The Met’s opening reception at 681 Fifth Avenue in 1872

On this day in 1872, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened in New York City. The museum was founded in 1870 by a group of American businessmen and artists who wanted to bring art to the American people, and was originally located in a building at 681 Fifth Avenue. The museum initially held a Roman stone sarcophagus and 174 paintings. As the museum expanded it had to move locations, finally settling on the eastern edge of Central Park. It now stands as one of the most renowned art museums in the world, housing over 2 million works.



Exterior of 681 Fifth Avenue – the original museum

“We have something to point to as the Museum, something tangible and something good.”
– The Museum’s first President John Taylor Johnston describing his happiness the day the museum opened


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