Astounding archaeology at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Astounding archaeology at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met is hosting an exhibition called Arte del Mar starting on 16 December 2019. Embark on a journey exploring artistic exchange between the ancient civilisations around the Caribbean Sea

Astounding archaeology at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art

A ground-breaking exhibition in the historic galleries of the Met

When you step inside the Met, located in Central Park, along famous Fifth Avenue in the middle of Manhattan, you get the feeling that you are getting to the very heart of what New York is all about. In this temple of 250,000 works, resist the temptation to try and see it all, instead, head straight for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas collection. This is where you will find the Arte del Mar or ‘Art of the Sea' exhibition. The aim of the curators organising the event is to finally reveal the outstanding creativity and artistic abundance of the Caribbean area in all its richness, down through the millennia and well before the colonisers arrived. To achieve this, they have used recent archaeological, ethno-historical and artistic research to deepen our understanding of these civilisations, especially their customs and political processes.

So, get ready to sail down the Antilles archipelago and along the coasts of Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras, following a themed itinerary centred around ritual knowledge, ceremonial performance and political power.

‘Arte del Mar: Artistic Exchange in the Caribbean' exhibition
From 16 December 2019 to 10 January 2021
Ground floor, Gallery 359
Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Michael C. Rockefeller Wing
1000 Fifth Avenue
New York
United States of America


Astounding archaeology at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tracing the art of pre-colonial populations in the Antilles

The art of these Caribbean civilisations includes skilful wooden sculptures, some of which come from the museum's own collections, like a rare deity figure known as zemí dating from the 10th century. As a matter of fact, in Taíno religion, some ancestral spirits became part and parcel of the sculptural object representing them. The visitor will also discover crafted pieces, mostly jewellery and other decorative items, made from locally sourced natural materials, such as shells, bones and greenstone, and even from ceramic. Some exhibits contain gold and marble, underlining their statement of wealth and power. Researchers have shown that use of these precious materials also reflects the extent of trade connections between peoples of the region.

The Met has also chosen to exhibit works by contemporary artists. In doing so, the museum intends to pay homage to the art of the Taínos, the name of the indigenous people of the Antilles in pre-colonial times, and more broadly to Afro-Caribbean culture, thereby bringing its mythology to life. In 2019's New York, ancestors and regional deities are alive and well and continue to inspire artists of today.

If you are visiting with the kids, special Family Afternoons are organised for parents and children between 3–11 years of age. It is an educational and fun way to discover the works and explore all their secrets. Finish your visit with a bite to eat in the Bookstore Café, located on the same floor, and order a signature cookie stamped with the Met logo for a tasty souvenir of your visit.

Bookstore Café
Sunday to Thursday: 10:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Great Hall