Inside The Met
(DVD / G / 2021 / PBS)
Overview: The Metropolitan Museum of Art prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday, but when COVID-19 strikes, the Met is forced to shut its doors indefinitely.
Then, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the museum is met with urgent demands for social justice.
DVD Verdict: Facing an uncertain future and questioning its very purpose, this great institution makes history in ways no one could have predicted, as we all now relearn here in the new PBS documentary Inside The Met.
Episode 1: The Birthday Surprise: Watch as the Metropolitan Museum of Art prepares for its landmark 150th birthday, and how quickly the plans change when COVID-19 hits New York City.
As the Met is forced to close its doors for the first time in 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 institution.
Episode 2: All Things to All People?: After the COVID-19 pandemic forces the Metropolitan Museum of Art to place plans for their 150th year on hold, the killing of George Floyd in May 2020 leads to renewed calls for social justice across the country.
The Met is forced to confront its historical record on inclusion, exclusion and diversity in art and staffing, as questions are raised about some of the Met’s most treasured objects.
Episode 3: Love and Money: As fall 2020 begins, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has reopened, welcoming visitors back in a safe and limited way, but the museum has suffered major financial losses.
Now, every department is calling in favors to patrons and supporters, from philanthropists who have contributed millions over generations, to art collectors now realizing it is time to make public their personal treasures.
This is the latest TV documentary by veteran British director Ian Denyer. Here he seems to have been given unfettered access to the Met as it gears up for what promises to be an amazing year (2020), in which it celebrates 150 years (the Met opened in April, 1870).
As it turns out, 2020 indeed was an amazing year, but not for the reasons anyone could’ve expected. Episode 1 documents the intricate details of what it takes to prepare various exhibits, while in the meantime reminding us regularly how much closer we are getting to the outbreak of the coronavirus in New York (in early March, 2020), and the eventual indefinite shutdown of the Met (March 12, the first major museum to do so, and quickly followed by all other cultural institutions in New York), and the challenges faces by Met executives and staff alike.
There are no words for it, in truth, as we all know, and whereas Episode 2 All Things To All People? examines the relevance of the Met in the era following George Floyd’s murder and the correlating social justice movement by Black Lives Matter and others, Episode 3 Love and Money reveals more about how the Met has tried to win back its audience, and help build back those much needed coffers to continue to thrive.
Let’s just say that diversity is a challenge at the Met. All in all, a very worthwhile inside look at a venerable cultural icon that is facing challenges it could not have imagined in any way as it was preparing for its 150 year anniversary. [PA] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
Official PBS Purchase Link