A Google Doodle released on Tuesday (13 April) belatedly celebrates the Metropolitan Museum of Art's birthday with a rotating carousel of objects from the New York museum’s collection. The animation was slated to appear last year to coincide with the 150 anniversary of the Met's founding, but was postponed as the museum put most of its festivities on hold through the coronavirus pandemic.
The work was produced by the San Francisco-based designer Erich Nagler, the lead art director for Google Doodle, who earned his BFA from the Parsons School of Design in New York. He was inspired by his many hours wandering the Met’s galleries, and the museum’s “ability to connect people to art across time and place”, a spokeswoman for the Met said in a statement.
The image features a rendering of the Fifth Avenue building and points to the location of cornerstones in its collection, such as Vincent van Gogh’s Self-portrait with a Straw Hat (1887) in the museum’s 19th and 20th-century European paintings and sculpture galleries and an ancient Greek fragment in its galleries devoted to late Roman and early Byzantine secular objects. The images were drawn from the Met’s open access programme, which includes around 400,000 photographs of objects in the museum’s collection that can be used without restriction.
Below the doodle is a link to a virtual viewing of the Met’s anniversary exhibition Making the Met, 1870-2020 hosted by Google Arts & Culture. The show, which closed earlier this year, looked back at the museum’s complex beginnings while aiming to offer new perspectives to its historically encyclopaedic collecting model, juxtaposing pieces from different departments.
Viewers can peruse various new acquisitions that filled several gaps in the collection, including East Asian holdings and contemporary works of art. In a previous interview regarding the sesquicentennial exhibition, the Met’s director Max Hollein said museums should divert from “one linear narrative, to include more subjective stories; to make that complexity more understood; to convene and complicate these multiple and interconnecting stories”.