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Google Doodle marks Metropolitan Museum of Art’s 151st birthday

The animation peeks inside the New York institution’s storied collections, including Vincent van Gogh’s Self-portrait with a Straw Hat and artefacts from the ancient world

Courtesy Google

A Google Doodle, released on 13 April 2021, marks the birthday of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and its ‘storied legacy of cultural enrichment’. The animation features a ground plan of the cultural institution, and a peek inside its collections, including Vincent van Gogh’s Self-portrait with a Straw Hat (1887) and artefacts from the ancient world. The tribute was originally intended to celebrate the Met’s 150th anniversary last year (the museum was officially incorporated on 13 April 1870), but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Temple of Dendur, The Met, New York. Courtesy The Met

Andrew Russeth visited the storied institution last August for ArtReview, after a five-months-long closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. ‘Art only truly exists when there are people to see it, and so it was an immense pleasure to be back with these things that have been waiting for us, that belong to us,’ he wrote, ‘[…] gazing again at Manet’s The Brioche (1870) and Florine Stettheimer’s four ‘Cathedral’ paintings (1929-42); wandering aimlessly in search of something new; and visiting the Temple of Dendur, which was eerily deserted.’

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this year, the Met suggested that it was looking into the sale of parts of its collection in order to respond to a potential USD$150 million budget deficit. The proposal met with a backlash from parts of the artworld: former director Thomas P. Campbell unfavourably compared deaccessioning to ‘crack cocaine to the addict’. But current Met director Max Hollein has defended deaccessioning as a move to save staffers from further cuts: ‘It is our absolute priority and core responsibility to preserve and retain the very skilled staff needed to care for our collection,’ he wrote in February.

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