The Met Celebrates the Holiday Season with Performances, Events, and Special Displays

Annual Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche
Annual Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche display. 20 ft. blue spruce with a collection of 18th-century Neapolitan angels and cherubs among its boughs and groups of realistic crèche figures flanking the Nativity scene at its base, displayed in the Museum's Medieval Sculpture Hall. Gift of Loretta Hines Howard, 1964. Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Behind the tree: Reja from the Cathedral of Valladolid, Spanish, 1763. Wrought iron, partially gilt, and limestone. Gift of The William Randolph Hearst Foundation, 1956

The Met continues a beloved holiday tradition with the presentation of its Christmas Tree and 18th-Century Neapolitan Crèchewhich will be on view from November 21, 2017–January 7, 2018. Magnificently set in front of the 18th-century Spanish choir screen from the Cathedral of Valladolid in the Museum's Medieval Sculpture Hall (gallery 305), the tree has become a must-see holiday favorite of both New Yorkers and visitors from around the world. Recorded Christmas music and daily lighting events add to the enjoyment of the holiday display.

The towering 20-foot blue spruce is gracefully lit and adorned with 19 cherubs and 59 angels, while at the base an additional 71 figures represent the three elements of Nativity scenes that were traditional to 18th-century Naples: adoring shepherds and their flocks, the procession of the three Magi, and spirited peasants and townspeople. The display is enhanced by nearly 50 delightful animals and by background pieces that create a dramatic setting for the Nativity; these include the ruins of a Roman temple, several quaint houses, and a typical Italian fountain.

The exhibit of the crèche is made possible by gifts to The Christmas Tree Fund and the Loretta Hines Howard Fund.

History of the Tree Display
The annual Christmas display has evolved through the generosity, enthusiasm, and dedication of the late Loretta Hines Howard, who began collecting crèche figures in 1925. Mrs. Howard conceived the idea of presenting the elaborate Neapolitan Nativity scene under a Christmas tree—a tradition rooted in Northern Europe, with angels swirling upward to the crowning star—and was later ably assisted by her daughter Linn Howard. Over many decades, Linn Howard contributed to the tree's great beauty by adding and improving details that are fundamentally reflected in the current display.

This unusual combination was first presented to the public in 1957, with The Met's exhibition of Mrs. Howard's collection. Since 1964, more than 200 Neapolitan crèche figures from the 18th century have been given to the Museum by Loretta Hines Howard and displayed in the galleries each holiday season.

Christmas Tree Lightings
Beginning Monday, November 27, tree lighting events will take place daily at 4:30 p.m., with additional ceremonies on Fridays and Saturdays at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. All are free with Museum admission. More information on an accompanying audio guide is available on The Met website.

Events, exhibitions, and offerings will be presented at each of The Met's three locations during the holiday season.

The Met Fifth Avenue

Eastern European Silver Menorah

Hanukkah Lamp, 1866–72. Polish, Lviv (also called Lvov or Lemberg). Silver: cast, chased, and engraved. On loan from The Moldovan Family Collection. Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

In conjunction with the celebration of Hanukkah, a magnificent, late 19th-century silver Menorah made in Lviv, Ukraine, will be on display in The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Galleries (Floor 1, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Gallery 556) through January 12, 2017. Made in 1866–72 for the Great Synagogue in Lviv, the ceremonial lamp, which is cast, chased, and engraved with elaborate motifs, is one of the largest silver Hanukkah lamps known. The Menorah is on loan from The Moldovan Family Collection. 

The eight-branched Hanukkah Menorah commemorates an important moment in Jewish history: the triumphant Maccabean revolt against the oppressing Seleucid Empire and the re-consecration of the Jewish Holy Temple in 165 B.C. The lamp's eight branches reference the miracle in which the last jug of pure olive oil, which should have lasted only one day, kept the Temple Menorah alight for eight days.


Exhibitions on view at The Met Fifth Avenue throughout the holiday season include: Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer (through February 12, 2018), David Hockney (through February 25, 2018), Rodin at The Met (through January 15, 2018), and Leonardo to Matisse: Master Drawings from the Robert Lehman Collection (through January 7, 2018). For a complete listing of exhibitions, please refer to The Met's website

Performances, Programs, and Events
The Met Fifth Avenue celebrates the holiday season with a variety of concerts and performances, including:

Byzantine Pop-Ups
Fri Dec 15, 4:00, 6:00, & 8:00 pm, Medieval Sculpture Hall

Featuring Axion Estin Foundation Chanters

A Met holiday tradition, these pop-up concerts feature hymns and carols of the Byzantine Empire. Antiphonal works, with musicians alternating parts in multiple languages, weave a sonic tapestry in the Medieval Sculpture Hall, with our magnificent Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche as the centerpiece.

Free with Museum admission.

Lorelei Ensemble
Thursday, Deceember 21, 6:30 pm (Members only)* & 8:30 pm, Medieval Sculpture Hall

The enduringly elegant and inventive Lorelei Ensemble returns to The Met with a program of a cappellaholiday treasures spanning the Medieval, Baroque, and modern eras. "Serenely pure, sweetly distant, and ineluctably graceful" (The Boston Globe).

Tickets start at $65.

*The 6:30 pm performance is for Members only. Please call 212-570-3753 for details on becoming a Member.

Little Match Girl Passion, Observed 
Friday, December 22, 7:00 pm, Medieval Sculpture Hall

In this edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning holiday classic by David Lang, the emphasis is on the Passion aspect of the work: the audience is the congregation and is invited to participate in the performance, contributing interstitial hymns and songs that are familiar to all, and that bind us as a community.

EmptyMet Tours
EmptyMet Tours—the opportunity to see The Met Fifth Avenue before it opens to the public—are available throughout the holiday season.

Dining and Shopping
A variety of dining options, from fine food overlooking Central Park in The Dining Room to casual fare at The American Wing Café, are offered at The Met Fifth Avenue. Cocktails, appetizers, and live music—including performances by Ethel and Friends in December—are available every Friday and Saturday evening at the Great Hall Balcony Bar.

Visitors can delight in two exceptional winter holiday scenes sculpted in sugar and fondant. Handcrafted by The Met's James Beard Award-winning Pastry Chef Randy Eastman, the display will be on view from Tuesday, November 28, through Saturday, January 6, outside of The Cafeteria and The Dining Room. 

The Met Store—located within the Museum's three locations and online—offers a wide selection of holiday gifts inspired by The Met collection, including greeting cards, calendars, jewelry, and more. Purchase proceeds support the collection of 5,000 years of art and its study, conservation, and presentation.

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of The Met's unofficial mascot, "William", the Store recently unveiled a dedicated collection of new merchandise including ties, a scarf, tote bag, holiday ornament, children's items, and more. "William"-themed merchandise has been available at The Met Store since 1927, when the Store launched a line of color collotype print reproductions of works in the collection, and continues to be a fan favorite for 90 years running.

The Met Cloisters

At The Met Cloisters—the branch of the Museum in northern Manhattan that is dedicated to the art, architecture, and gardens of medieval Europe—decorations with a medieval theme and concerts of early music will ring in the season.

Medieval 'Christmastide' Decorations

December 8 through January 8, visitors to The Met Cloisters will experience a unique museum tradition that revives festive, medieval culture. Arriving guests will first pass under a great arch of holly boughs bright with red fruits, which symbolize light, warmth and welcome. Above all other plants, holly is associated with the medieval feast. 

Once inside, visitors will be greeted in the Main Hall with grand arches bedecked with fresh ivy locally sourced in Fort Tryon Park. The gardeners dress each of the ivy arches with hand-polished, New York Lady apples, hazelnuts, rosehips and pinecones.

Elsewhere, throughout the halls, cloisters, galleries and arcades, visitors will be treated to verdant displays of topiaries, garlands and wreaths. Candelabras will be swaddled with ivy and adorned with roses. Windows will be filled with potted fragrant and flowering plants such as citrus, rosemary and cyclamen. Each plant is a symbol and celebration of the season.

Programming at The Met Cloisters

Holiday-themed concerts by renowned performers and a festival for the whole family are among the holiday offerings at The Met Cloisters. Programming includes:

The Cherry Tree: Music for the Yuletide Season

Sunday, December 3, 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.

The Baltimore Consort offers brightly arranged ballads, carols, and dance music from Renaissance Europe and their modern versions in the New World, all performed with a cornucopia of string, wind, and percussion instruments.

Tickets start at $65

Gallery Talks

The Story of Christmas in Medieval Art

Saturday, December 2, 12 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

The Three Kings

Saturday, January 6, 2 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.

The Met Breuer

Exhibitions on view at The Met Breuer throughout the holiday season include: Provocations: Anselm Kiefer at The Met Breuer (December 13, 2017–April 8, 2018), Edvard Munch: Between the Clock and the Bed (through February 4, 2018), Modernism on the Ganges: Raghubir Singh Photographs (through January 2, 2018), and Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950–1980 (through January 14, 2018).



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