Inside The Met

Air date: 05/21/2021

New Documentary Series Inside The Met, Premiering Fridays, May 21 and 28 on PBS, Explores the Legacy and Future of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Go behind the scenes as the largest art museum in the Americas plans its 150th anniversary and responds to the coronavirus pandemic and calls for social justice

Five floors high and four city blocks long, spanning 2.3 million square feet and housing more than 1.2 million treasures from the past 5,000 years, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is beloved by New Yorkers and renowned throughout the world. The new three-part documentary series Inside The Met goes behind the scenes of the largest art museum in the Americas, as curators prepare to celebrate the iconic institution’s 150th birthday in 2020 through ambitious landmark exhibitions. Plans for celebrations, however, are halted when the COVID-19 pandemic hits and The Met must close indefinitely. Then, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in May 2020, the museum is forced to look inward and re-examine its record on diversity, inclusion and how it presents its collection. Featuring interviews with artists, museum curators, conservators, directors and visitors, the series shows the 19th-century institution grappling with how to change and remain relevant in the 21st century. Inside The Met premieres Fridays, May 21 and 28 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/arts and the PBS Video app as part of #PBSForTheArts, the new multiplatform campaign that celebrates the resiliency of the arts in America during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and reopening.

Inside The Met: The Birthday Surprise

Premieres Friday, May 21 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/arts and the PBS Video app

In spring 2019, The Met is in its glory – the coffers are full, visitor numbers are up and staff is preparing to mark the museum’s 150th anniversary the following year with an impressive series of carefully planned exhibitions and events. The first episode of Inside The Met goes behind closed doors to reveal how the museum functions, venturing above and below the public galleries for a close-up look at the work of curators, conservators and executives. Construction of “Making The Met,” an exhibit that explores the evolution of the institution, is well underway, as is the next great show from the Costume Institute, “Camp.” In addition, The Met unveils an incredible series of sculptures by Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu in the museum’s formerly empty façade niches. The future seems limitless for The Met until the coronavirus pandemic shuts down New York City and the world, forcing the museum to close its doors indefinitely for the first time in its history. A skeleton staff battles to protect 1.2 million precious objects while executives face losses approaching $150 million, revealing the new reality inside this storied art institution.

Inside The Met: All Things to All People?

Premieres Friday, May 21 at 10 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/arts and the PBS Video app

The Met’s 150th anniversary plans have been derailed by the global pandemic and in summer 2020, the museum begins to confront its past. The executive team examines the institution’s record on inclusion, exclusion and diversity. Questions are raised about some of The Met’s most treasured objects, many obtained unethically and reflecting the tastes of the wealthy 19th-century industrialists and entrepreneurs who founded the museum. Curators work to add important historical context to culturally insensitive pieces that encourage dialogue and understanding through the exploration of art in the museum with differing points of view. A Black family from Connecticut tours the museum and shares their experience viewing The Met’s art and representation, and leading contemporary artists speak about the political and cultural resonance of their work. Interviews include Puerto Rican visual artist Miguel Luciano; and Native American painter Kent Monkman, whose large-scale commissioned paintings featuring his nonbinary alter ego “Miss Chief Eagle Testickle” take a hard look at American colonialism. Taiwanese American performance artist Lee Mingwei collaborates with legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones on a performance of Mingwei’s “Our Labyrinth” at The Met that is designed to be a meditation on this moment of instability and profound change. The pandemic closure will be a footnote in The Met’s history, but re-examining what art is presented and how may change it forever.

Inside The Met: Love and Money

Premieres Friday, May 28 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), pbs.org/arts and the PBS Video app

By fall 2020 The Met’s doors are open in a safe and very limited way. As the glamorous, highly-anticipated Costume Institute show “About Time” comes together, museum staff wonders who will pay for new acquisitions, the crucial but very costly research and conservation work, and infrastructure projects vital to the survival of an antique building. Every department is calling in favors to patrons and supporters, from old-money philanthropists who have contributed millions over generations, to leading collectors realizing the time is right to make their private treasures public. The museum staff also strives to identify and inform the next generation of diverse scholars through its internship program, bringing in new perspectives to keep the art industry moving forward. Critical questions on surviving, thriving and changing remain as The Met continues to reimagine its future.

Inside The Met and the collection of #PBSForTheArts programs will be available for broadcast on PBS and streaming on PBS.org/arts and the PBS Video app. Curated conversation and digital shorts will be available on PBS social media platforms using #PBSForTheArts.

Inside The Met is a production of Oxford Films in association with Apostles for The WNET Group, in association with the BBC. Ian Denyer is series producer, writer and director. Crystal-Claire Simmonds is series narrator. For Oxford Films: Nicolas Kent is Executive Producer. For The WNET Group: Lesley Norman is Executive Producer and Stephen Segaller is Executive-in-Charge.

Original production funding for Inside The Met is provided by Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, The Jaharis Family Foundation, Seton Melvin Charitable Trust, Elaine and W. Weldon Wilson, Anderson Family Fund, The Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation, The Carson Family Charitable Trust, Mary and James G. Wallach Foundation, and Mark Hornstein and Barry Neustein. Production Support provided by DRIVE.

About The WNET Group

The WNET Group creates inspiring media content and meaningful experiences for diverse audiences nationwide. It is the nonprofit parent company of New York’s THIRTEEN – America’s flagship PBS station – WLIW21, THIRTEEN PBSKids, WLIW World and Create; Long Island’s only NPR station WLIW-FM; and ALL ARTS, the arts and culture media provider. The WNET Group also operates NJ PBS, New Jersey’s statewide public television network, and newsroom NJ Spotlight News. Through these channels and streaming platforms, The WNET Group brings arts, culture, education, news, documentary, entertainment and DIY programming to more than five million viewers each month. The WNET Group’s award-winning productions include signature PBS series Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, PBS NewsHour Weekend and Amanpour and Company and trusted local news programs MetroFocus and NJ Spotlight News with Briana Vannozzi. Inspiring curiosity and nurturing dreams, The WNET Group’s award-winning Kids’ Media and Education team produces the PBS KIDS series Cyberchase, interactive Mission US history games, and resources for families, teachers and caregivers. A leading public media producer for nearly 60 years, The WNET Group presents and distributes content that fosters lifelong learning, including multi-platform initiatives addressing poverty, jobs, economic opportunity, social justice, understanding and the environment. Through Passport, station members can stream new and archival programming anytime, anywhere. Community-supported, The WNET Group represents the best in public media. Join us.

Photos
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The Met Museum, New York, as the Wangechi Mutu's sculptures are installed. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

The Met Museum, New York, as the Wangechi Mutu's sculptures are installed/ Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

The Met Museum, New York, as the Wangechi Mutu's sculptures are installed. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Weekly flower installaton in the Great Hall at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Weekly flower installaton in the Great Hall at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Weekly flower installaton in the Great Hall at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Weekly flower installaton in the Great Hall at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Art handlers move Stone Megalith through the Arms and Armor Galleries at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Visitors walking through The Greek and Roman Galleries at The Met Museum, New York/ Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Art handlers move Stone Megalith through the European Sculptures Galleries at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Art handlers move Stone Megalith through the European Sculptures Galleries at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

The hanging of Jacques Louis David's Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie Anne Lavoisier at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

The hanging of Jacques Louis David's Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie Anne Lavoisier at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Conservators working on Jacques Louis David's Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie Anne Lavoisier at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Conservators working on Jacques Louis David's Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie Anne Lavoisier at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Conservators working on Jacques Louis David's Portrait of Antoine-Laurent and Marie Anne Lavoisier at The Met Museum, New York. Credit: Eddie Knox © Oxford Films, 2021

Visitors celebrate as The Met reopens in August 2020 after the closure due to Covid 19. Credit: Taylor Hill © Taylor Hill, 2020

Staff prepare as The Met reopens in August 2020 after the closure due to Covid 19. Credit: Taylor Hill © Taylor Hill, 2020

Visitors queue to enter as The Met reopens in August 2020 after Covid 19 lockdown closure. Credit: Taylor Hill © Taylor Hill, 2020

Visitors queue to enter as The Met reopens in August 2020 after Covid 19 lockdown closure. Credit: Taylor Hill © Taylor Hill, 2020

Visitors queue to enter as The Met reopens in August 2020 after Covid 19 lockdown closure. Credit: Taylor Hill © Taylor Hill, 2020