Though the Islamic Wing of the Met (or more specifically, the Galleries for the Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, and Later South Asia—say that three times fast) opened in October, there’s no reason for young people not to fête the new galleries five months hence.
The event, dubbed “An Oasis at the Met,” was staged by the institution’s College Group, to draw in students with a promise of respite from studies and the travails of college life. Unlike the college oases of binge drinking and raucous parties, students could enjoy the magnificent treasures of Arabia. (And isn’t it better to OD on art rather than be hungover from cheap vodka?)
Onlookers spied from the balcony, which became an increasingly crammed fire hazard, while hundreds of undergrads milled about the Great Hall (though many were waiting in the serpentine coat check lines). The party attracted more than 3,000 guests.
Even for neophytes, uninterested in art, the visual delights of delicate folios, gigantic tapestries, mosaic alcoves and a room imported all the way from Damascus were arresting.
Despite the grandeur of the Great Hall and the glorious art, the guests of the event were far more fascinating and painfully entertaining. And from these most distinguished guests came a variety of reactions to the wing.
“What the hell, yo,” said a young woman to her companion as they looked at an Indian folio page. Needless to say, the discussion between party guests wasn’t always high criticism.
If there is one thing that college girls like to do, it is to take pictures of themselves and others, preferably both in one shot. And by our informal count, more photos were taken at the 3 hour event than an entire day of Fashion Week.
Some party-goers were more artistically astute than others, of course. One young woman pointed to the floor of the Moroccan room to her friends, explaining the design, something she learned in an art history class.
Even if many of the guests were behaving as if the event was a cross between a party and a field-trip, they were still talking about the art. And isn’t that what really matters?
After the ensemble Zikrayat played traditional Middle Eastern tunes, DJ Louie XIV hammed it up for the audience with generic club music. It was when The Observer heard Ke$ha echoing through the hall, that we knew it was our cue to leave. Young people these days.