THE MET’S SUNDAY BEST: Last-minute museum-goers still have 10 days to catch the record-breaking “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Fifth Avenue location and The Met Cloisters.
With 1.3 million visitors at the Upper East Side museum and nearly 200,000 at The Met Cloisters — and counting — the show is the most-visited one for The Met’s Costume Institute. Spanning 60,000 square feet and 25 galleries, the exhibition is the largest that has ever been staged. A myriad of designs from Thierry Mugler, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Thom Browne, Azzedine Alaïa, John Galliano for the House of Dior, Claire McCardell, Madeleine Vionnet, Isabel Toledo, Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino, Elsa Schiaparelli and other designers are on view throughout the Met. The layout inevitably is leading many attendees to areas of the museum beyond the Costume Institute. On the flip side, visitors who may be in search of non-fashion exhibitions may be introduced and perhaps tempted to explore more in The Costume Institute.
The success of the exhibition has been another winning moment for The Costume Institute’s curator in charge Andrew Bolton, who has helped to rev up attendance numbers in recent years. “Heavenly Bodies” appears to be closing in on The Met’s all-time, most-attended show, “Treasures of Tutankhamun,” from 1978. Bolton’s latest effort will no doubt help bolster this year’s overall attendance. In the fiscal year that ended June 30, The Met racked in more than 7.35 million visitors to its three locations — The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Cloisters and The Met Breuer.
More ambitious visitors to the show have a lot of ground to cover. Met-goers, who see the entire show, will get a glimpse of The Met Fifth Avenue’s medieval galleries, the Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries for Byzantine Art (this part of The Robert Lehman Wing closed earlier this month), the Anna Wintour Costume Center and the The Met Cloisters in northern Manhattan. For the final weekend on Oct. 6 and 7, “Heavenly Bodies” will open early starting at 8:30 a.m. for those who purchase EmptyMet: Heavenly Bodies tickets online.
“Heavenly Bodies” is the second record-breaking exhibition at The Met this year. “Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer” reeled in more than 700,000 visitors during its run from Nov. 13 of last year through Feb. 12. The second-place show makes it the 10th most-attended show in the museum’s history. Apparently, Catholicism trumped Michelangelo.
The Met’s leading exhibition was made possible through lead sponsorship from Christine and Stephen A. Schwarzman and Versace. Condé Nast provided additional support.