Sunday, February 20, 2011

Today's Birthdays

Charles‑Auguste de Bériot (1802-1870)
Mary Garden (1874-1967)
Robert McBride (1911-2007)
Ruth Gipps (1921-1999)
Christoph Eschenbach (1940)
Barry Wordsworth (1948)
Cindy McTee (1953)
Riccardo Chailly (1953)
Chris Thile (1981)


Russel Crouse (1893-1966)
Louis Kahn (1901-1974)
Ansel Adams (1902-1984)
Richard Matheson (1926)

And from the Writer's Almanac:
It was on this day in 1872 that the Metropolitan Museum of Art opened to the public in Manhattan. Its first home was rented space at 681 Fifth Avenue, in a building that had started off as a house and been remodeled by Allen Dodworth to serve as a dance academy.

Among the founders of the museum were its first president, John Taylor Johnston, a wealthy railroad tycoon who headed up the fundraising; and William T. Blodgett, who paid $116,000 to buy three collections of Flemish and Dutch paintings, and then turned them over to the museum. Blodgett was in Europe during the grand opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. On February 22nd, Johnston sent Blodgett a letter about the openings — to the press and artists the evening of the 19th, and to the public on the 20th: "Personally I felt very apprehensive of the effect of inviting the disaffected artist element and the gentlemen of the Press, but it all worked very well. One party who came there with an artist told me afterwards that they halted for a moment before going in in front of the building, and the artist told him it was a 'd----d humbug, and' added he, 'I thought so too, but when we came out we thought very differently.' Our public reception on the 20th was an equal success. We had a fine turnout of ladies and gentlemen and all were highly pleased. The pictures looked splendid, and compliments were so plenty and strong that I was afraid the mouths of the Trustees would become chronically and permanently fixed in a broad grin."

The museum moved several times, eventually leasing land from the city on the east side of Central Park and building a permanent home there. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is now more than 2 million square feet and contains more than 2 million works of art.

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