2023 Holidays at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
November 21, 2023 – January 7, 2024
1000 Fifth Avenue in the 80s on the upper east side of Manhattan, just off of Central Park
With highlights including the annual Christmas tree and menorah displays, new exhibitions, and performances for the family, The Met’s holiday program provides a one-stop destination to ring in the season.
(New York, November 21, 2023)—This holiday season, visitors to The Met are invited to marvel at the classic Christmas tree and menorah displays as well as enjoy seasonal food offerings, shopping opportunities, holiday concerts, educational programs, and more.
“The Met for the holidays has art and more for all,” said Kenneth Weine, Senior Vice President for External Affairs. “Our special exhibitions, permanent collection galleries, and activities, talks, and performances are the perfect outing for New York visitors and locals alike.”
Christmas Tree Display
The Met’s Christmas Tree and Neapolitan Baroque Crèche—a beloved holiday tradition—is on view in the Medieval Sculpture Hall (Gallery 305) from November 21, 2023, to January 7, 2024. The towering 20-foot blue spruce is adorned with a host of cherubs and angels. More than 70 additional figures at the base 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. Enhancing the display are nearly 50 charming animals and background elements—such as the ruins of a Roman temple, several quaint houses, and a typical Italian fountain—that create a dramatic setting for the Nativity.
Eastern European Silver Menorah
In honor of Hanukkah, a magnificent silver menorah made in 1866–72 is on view in The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Galleries (Floor 1, European Sculpture and Decorative Arts, Gallery 556) from November 21, 2023, to January 7, 2024. Created for the Great Synagogue in Lviv (present-day Ukraine), 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 reconsecration of the Jewish Holy Temple in 165 BC. The lamp’s eight branches refer to the miracle in which the last vessel of oil, which should have lasted only one day, kept the temple menorah lit for eight days to allow for the Temple’s reconsecration.
Medieval “Christmastide” Decorations at The Met Cloisters
From December 14, 2023, through January 7, 2024, a unique tradition at The Met Cloisters pays tribute to the medieval Christmas celebration. Visitors enter under a great arch of holly boughs bright with red fruits, which symbolize light, warmth, and welcome. Holly is the plant that is most associated with the medieval feast.
Inside, grand arches will be decked with fresh ivy locally sourced in Fort Tryon Park. The horticulturists and garden volunteers at The Met Cloisters 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, verdant topiaries, garlands, and wreaths will be displayed. Candelabras will be decorated with ivy and adorned with fresh roses. The Cuxa Cloister 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.
Visitors to The Met Fifth Avenue will find a suite of special exhibitions to explore, including: Manet/Degas (through January 7), the first major exhibition examining one of the most significant artistic dialogues in the genesis of modern art; Vertigo of Color: Matisse, Derain, and the Origins of Fauvism (through January 21), exploring how the artists manipulated and experimented with color to create a new artistic vocabulary; Africa & Byzantium (through March 3), a major exhibition of nearly 200 works that explores the tradition of Byzantine art and culture in Africa; and Lineages: Korean Art at The Met (through October 20), which celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Museum’s Arts of Korea gallery with a collection of works tracing the history of Korean art. Visitors can also enjoy 45 newly reopened and reenvisioned galleries dedicated to European Paintings, 1300–1800 (ongoing).
Additional exhibitions and installations on view at The Met Fifth Avenue during the holiday season include: The Great Hall Commission: Jacolby Satterwhite, A Metta Prayer (through January 7), Picasso: A Cubist Commission in Brooklyn (through January 14), Proof: Maxime Du Camp’s Photographs of the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa (through January 21), The Facade Commission: Nairy Baghramian, Scratching the Back (through May 28), Grounded in Clay: The Spirit of Pueblo Pottery (through June 4), The African Origin of Civilization (ongoing), and Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room (ongoing). For the full list of exhibitions, please refer to The Met’s website.
MetLiveArts Performance Series
The MetLiveArts 2023–24 Quartet in Residence, Catalyst Quartet, will be joined by Jayson Kerr Dobney, the Frederick P. Rose Curator in Charge of the Department of Musical Instruments, on December 9 at 7 p.m. for an unprecedented evening featuring instruments built in the 1890s by August Gemünder & Sons.
On December 16 at 3 p.m., following their triumphant debut performance in 2019, ModernMedieval Voices returns to The Met Cloisters to celebrate the holiday season with eight centuries of carols, chants, folk songs, traditional tunes, and ecclesiastic music in the Fuentidueña Chapel.
David Lang’s Pulitzer Prize–winning The Little Match Girl Passion will be staged in front of The Met’s Christmas tree on Friday, January 5, and Saturday, January 6, at 7 p.m. An incredible group of singers selected by the composer himself (Molly Netter, soprano; Kate Maroney, alto; Gene Stenger, tenor; and Dashon Burton, bass) will perform this “tender and mysterious” (The New York Times) contemporary choral work based on the classic fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. These performances are free with Museum admission.
A family favorite—and long-standing Met tradition—is Storytime for children ages 18 months through 6 years. Hosted Tuesday and Thursday mornings, the program is free but space is limited. For the first time, Storytime will also take place at The Met Cloisters, in addition to The Met Fifth Avenue.
Several programs have been organized around the theme “Celebration.” The Art Trek program invites families with children ages 7 through 11 to discover favorite works of art through close looking together (December 2). Start with Art, for families with children ages 3 to 6, incorporates stories, sketching, and other activities in the Museum’s galleries (December 16).
At The Met Cloisters, a slate of holiday programming is scheduled, including a medieval winter wreath workshop in which participants can learn about the symbolic meanings of plants and create a festive wreath alongside Met Cloisters horticultural staff in a special after-hours event (December 15; advance pre-registration is required). Additional programs activating The Met Cloisters during the season include a caroling performance by The Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School’s Vocal Ensemble (December 14) and daily holiday tours in which visitors learn how plants were used in winter celebrations such as medieval Christmastide and how Hannukah was celebrated in the Middle Ages (December 14–January 7). For a full schedule of events, please refer to The Met’s website.
From December 7 to January 9, The Met Dining Room will serve a decadent four-course holiday-themed tasting menu. For more casual dining options, delight in festive beverages and snacks at the American Wing Cafe, the Petrie Court Cafe, the Great Hall Balcony Cafe, and The Eatery. Members at the Evening Hours level and above can enjoy an exclusive small-plate menu or a quick pick-me-up at the Balcony Lounge during Weekend Member Hours. More dining information is available on The Met’s website.
The Museum’s popular Date Night at The Met program continues throughout the winter season, every Friday and Saturday night, 5 to 9 p.m. Visitors are invited to escape the cold and enjoy art, Gallery Chats, and live performances, and settle in with a seasonal beverage including hot cocoa and festive drinks at the Museum’s Petrie Court Cafe and small bites in the Balcony Lounge (open to Met Members at the Evening Hours level and above; reservations recommended).
Giving the Gift of The Met
The Met Store has a variety of memorable, art-inspired gifts, all available to browse in a new digital holiday catalogue. From a dazzling array of jewelry, holiday ornaments, and fun stocking stuffers to the latest Met publications, unique home decor, and educational toys and games, The Met Store has something for art lovers of all tastes and ages. Shop at The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Cloisters, or online at store.metmuseum.org to discover what’s new this holiday season.
Annual Membership to The Met is also available for gifting, providing recipients the opportunity to experience 5,000 years of art year-round. Membership benefits include free admission for Members and their guest(s) on every visit, exclusive early exhibition-viewing hours, special holiday discounts at The Met Store, discounts on dining and parking, and other privileges. More information about Membership packages and gifting options are on The Met’s website.
Visiting The Met
The Met Fifth Avenue is open six days a week, Thursday through Tuesday. Hours on Friday and Saturday are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday–Tuesday and Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Met Cloisters is open Thursday through Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both locations will be closed on December 25 and January 1. Admission for New York State residents as well as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut students is pay as you wish.