New Yorkers often flock to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the Upper East Side in Manhattan when they need an artistic and historical refuge from our modern and always progressing world. I am a frequent visitor to the Met, and I have found it to be one of the few places that I enjoyed during quarantine last school year 2020-2021, I was thrilled to find out about their 2022 date nights: all year, Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. are dedicated to live music, gallery information sessions, and a lovely atmosphere for couples, friends, and art lovers alike.
Accompanied by my friend India Yeoh, a graduated senior at Hunter College High School, I arrived at the Met promptly at 6 p.m., and rushed in to find The Petrie Court Café where ETHEL, “NYC’s celebrated string quartet,” was performing their first set of the night. Date Night at the Met features a string quartet that plays three sets in the cafe and one “gallery chat” with a museum guide in a selected gallery of that evening.
The audience burst into applause, as we found an open table in the spacious cafe. The massively high ceilings and the sunlight streaming in from the grassy Central Park exterior immediately welcomed me in; I was transfixed. And when the string quartet started playing again, I could not keep my eyes off of them. The calculated movements of the violinists were art in themselves, and it was picturesque to be in such an esteemed place such as the Met enjoying music surrounded by some of the finest art in the world.
The quartet continued with its set, each song featuring a new musical aspect, such as the cellist, who was adorned in a reflective, glitzy blazer, striking her hand on the body of her massive instrument. During the last piece of the set, I was truly mesmerized; one violinist began to rise from his chair and waltz through the audience of couples and friends enjoying a bite, listening to the music, or just chatting. He invited himself to a seat, all the while playing. Another violinist followed suit, and soon enough the audience was immersed in the performance.
After the approximately 50 minute mark, the performance ended, and the quartet once again received a roaring applause and a standing ovation from onlookers and cafe diners. I approached and thanked ETHEL for the wonderful performance.
That specific quartet plays about once a month and shares the Friday and Saturday date night slots on other weeks with other acclaimed New York City groups, such as NYC’s leading medieval, Renaissance, and baroque ensemble Sonnambula, and Mike Hashim’s New Orleans Foot Warmers.
“It was incredible, being surrounded by such amazing art and being able to experience this all for free as New Yorkers!” said Yeoh after the performance ended.
As an Upper East Sider, I was thrilled to find that assorted gallery chats and musical performances are at my disposal for all of this year, especially because as a New York State resident I am eligible for the pay-what-you-wish tickets offered by the Met.
The unique aspect of the Metropolitan Museum’s date night is that whether you attend with a friend or yourself, you are on a date with the art, as it also features a free, drop-in “gallery chat,” explained on the museum’s website as getting to know a piece of art “like a first date.” Specific galleries are selected each week, and a museum guide leads the conversation about the pieces.
If you are looking for a fun and dazzling Friday or Saturday night activity, the Met Museum date night should absolutely be your next stop; the ambiance, culture, and beautiful art are more than enough to keep you coming back for the following week’s featured gallery and spectacular performance!
“It was incredible, being surrounded by such amazing art and being able to experience this all for free as New Yorkers!” said India Yeoh, a graduated senior at Hunter College High School, after the performance ended.