Sunday, September 16, 2012

New York City, Part 4 – The Final Chapter

    Part Four finds us still at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While at the museum’s café, I noticed that there was a collection of armor and arms right next door. Knowing how much Al appreciates looking at and collecting firearms himself, I thought he would enjoy this display. I was right! We started in the small galleries and Al remarked that he had never seen such a large collection of so many different styles of armor and firearms. And frankly, neither had I! I never knew that different countries had different styles of suits of armor for their knights. Spain, Italy, France and Germany had varied designs as well as different decorations. Many of the suits of armor were overlaid with gold and silver in intricate patterns. Sword hilts were decorated with everything from golden overlays to enameled emblems. The main gallery had a display of four knights mounted on four horses, and all knights and horses were fully suited in their armors!
       Then there were the firearms. Rifles and pistols had inlaid ivory, gold, silver, and mother-of-pearl barrels and hand grips. We saw a highly ornate pair of pistols that had been made for Katherine the Great of Russia. They had carved ivory handles. Having been to Russia in 2008 and seen Katherine’s home, the Hermitage Palace in St. Petersburg, I knew how much she loved ornate things. All textiles in a room - drapes, bedspreads, curtains, tablecloths and wallpaper - were made of the same ornate silk and brocade designs. It was awe-inspiring to me to see something in an American museum that was related to something I had seen in a museum half-way around the world. When we got to the more modern American-made firearms (like nineteenth century Smith and Wesson, Colt, and Winchester), there were pistols with handles decorated by jewelers from the famed Tiffany and Company of New York City.
    As we were exiting the arms display, we passed a small room full of musical instruments. I wanted to find an ornate piano and have Al take one picture of it. Al was fascinated by this display, too, and took a picture of every single musical instrument in the room! Again neither of us had seen so many musical instruments on display in one place. Frankly, I had never seen musical instruments in an art museum! The piano as we know it today was invented in 1698. Besides getting a lesson on the evolution of the piano from harpsichords and spinets, I saw instruments I had not heard of, including a three-necked stringed instrument. Each neck was tuned to a different scale! There was also a serpent-shaped reed instrument.
    The next day we had to leave. Our cousin offered to drive us to LaGuardia Airport. As it turned out, I believe one of the bridges was closed for repairs and her GPS routed us on an hour and a half journey via Manhattan! We later learned that LaGuardia Airport is in the Bronx. It felt like we had traveled from Staten Island to the Bronx by way of New Jersey! Never again! If we return to New York City, we will go via the Newark Airport. Also we will go when the weather is cooler so we can take the subways. After all, once we get to the Lower End of Manhattan, we know how to take the ferry and buses to and around Staten Island now. 
     One picture shows an Italian suit of armor engraved with gold and silver and its matching horse’s face plate, dating around 1600. Another picture shows ivory and wood-carved rifles, pistols, and powder flasks; the pair of pistols in the lower left corner was made for Katherine the Great of Russia in 1786. The silver and enameled pistol in the other picture was designed by Tiffany and Co. The other three pictures show an ornate piano; the triple-necked stringed instrument, and the serpent reed instrument.

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