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PR- 067-06
March 6, 2006


Celebration Marks First Restoration in Façade's 104-year history; $12.2 Million Renovation Project Funded Through Private and Public Donations

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined by Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Philippe de Montebello and President of the Metropolitan Emily K. Rafferty, today unveiled the newly restored and renovated landmark façade of the historic Metropolitan Museum of Art. The celebration marked the first time the historic façade - which faces Fifth Avenue from 80th to 84th Streets - has been restored since it was constructed more than a century ago in 1902. The restoration project, completed over four years, included washing the Indiana limestone and rehabilitating the façade's sculptural elements and roofline. Mayor Bloomberg was also joined by United States Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Representatives Charles Rangel and Carolyn Maloney, and other public officials, community board leaders, neighbors, trustees, and friends.

"Our cultural institutions are an crucial part of the rich fabric of New York City," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Investing in the maintenance and restoration of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the beauty and magnificence of this historic building. The museum is a center of art scholarship and an invaluable educational asset for the millions of visitors that walk through these doors each year. The Met, along with the many other cultural institutions that call New York City home, is a key partner in the City's thriving future."

"The restoration of this landmark façade brings back to life the face of one of New York's most beloved cultural institutions and highlights the critical role that non-profit culture plays in providing dynamic public spaces and improving our quality of life," said Commissioner Levin. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art has long been an invaluable source of scholarship and education for the City, not to mention our biggest tourist attraction. By investing in its preservation, we are helping to secure New York City's cultural preeminence and competitive edge."

The City, through the Department of Cultural Affairs and with the Manhattan Borough President's office, invested more than $6.1 million towards the total $12.2 million cost of the renovation project, which was also funded through private donations. The landmark façade, along with the central building and the north and south wings of the Museum, was designed at the turn of the 20th Century by Richard Morris Hunt and Charles Follen McKim. Its first-ever restoration involved cleaning, replacing stonework, and repairing and stabilizing the structural elements, all of which served to reverse nearly a century of exposure to the elements. Last year, the Met welcomed 4.5 million visitors from around the word, including 115,000 schoolchildren from New York City and surrounding areas.

"As an institution the Metropolitan Museum of Art feels truly invigorated by this brisk and thorough cleaning," said Philippe de Montebello. "The Museum is aglow as never before in our lifetimes, and beckons visitors from all parts of the city, the nation, and the world not only with the spectacular quality and quantity of its contents and its collections, but also with the staggering beauty of its outside walls. We are equally grateful to the many generous friends and skilled artisans who have made its preservation and renewed beauty possible for the enormous benefit of the public."

"Once again, our generous private and government funders have made certain that this important renovation was possible and ensured that the work was conducted at the highest possible standards of excellence," said Emily K. Rafferty. "We particularly thank Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Council for the City's splendid generosity; Senators Clinton and Schumer for helping us secure federal aid for construction work at the Met for the first time; and Congresswoman Maloney for her tireless work in generating this government support. The result is true a collaboration among all our constituencies, one of which the public and private sectors can be justly proud."

Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is among New York's earliest City-owned institutions. Its world-renowned collections include more than two million works of art, spanning 5,000 years of world culture. The building is both a designated City Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places. The Museum is also one of New York City's top tourist attractions, with an average annual attendance of more than 4.3 million people.


Stu Loeser/Silvia Alvarez   (212) 788-2958

Sara Rutkowski   (Department of Cultural Affairs)
(212) 643-6690

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