On Saturday, the Metropolitan of Art will reopen its doors after an excruciatingly long hiatus due to COVID-19 restrictions in New York City. Sadly, the temporary closure coincided with grand plans to celebrate the museum’s 150th anniversary in a variety of ways, but all of the fanfare, including a number of special exhibitions—and commemorative, collectible product debuts in the Met Store—had to be put on hold.
Until now. Today, the museum unveils a series of design collaboration capsules on its website, the result of partnerships with brands such as Estée Lauder, Baggu, and the Brooklyn, N.Y.–based fine jewelry and gift boutique Catbird.
Catbird founder Rony Vardi and her team have created four pieces inspired by the works of female artists and have also reimagined of the Met’s iconic (now defunct) metal admission token. Everything is in 14k gold.
“Our jewelers take field trips to the museum to energize and gather inspiration, so for our team to be given access to their vast permanent collection to pore over and incorporate into our design concepts was no short of magic,” Vardi said in a statement. “We felt we really had to make something that was worth looking at, getting lost in.”
Vardi, like so many New Yorkers, has a personal connection to the museum.
“I first fell in love with the Met—and the idea of living in New York—through [the book] From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” she tells JCK. “My parents would take us, and what I remember most is the grandeur of the building itself and walking into that cavernous, glamorous entryway with the gigantic flower arrangement, the echoing sound of people milling on the wide stairway, and walking through the colonnade with the looming, ghostlike Greek sculptures. I’ve been to many museums, but nothing rivals walking through the Met for the deep feelings—sound, smell, space—that the building itself invokes.
“One of my husband and mine’s first dates was at the Met. We met on the outside steps and since we barely knew each other, we had a hard time locating one another. Once inside, he told me he loved the Arms and Armor room, which I had honestly never paid much attention to before. I loved seeing it through someone else’s eyes—and now it’s one of my kids’ favorite rooms.”
Below, the capsule in its entirety, with notes on what inspired each piece. Very nice prices too!
Top: Alongside the Met collaboration, Catbird has commissioned six New York artists from Free Arts NYC’s teen art program to create a work of art that reflects their personal history. From a brand statement about the initiative: “Just as our collection is inspired by works found inside [the Met], we celebrate the perspectives of these young artists who will shape the future of art.”
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