Lonely Planet Writer

See the largest Michelangelo exhibition in history in New York City

To immerse yourself in the works of Michelangelo, legendary 15-16th-century Italian sculptor, painter, and architect, make for cities like Rome to marvel at the Sistine Chapel and the Pietà, or Florence to examine the genius of his David. And now, thanks to a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, art lovers can now add New York City to that list too.

Largest Michelangelo collection ever assembled hits New York
Michelangelo Buonarroti, Studies for the Three Labors of Hercules, ca. 1530. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art /Collection Trust/ © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer is the largest collection of the artist’s works ever assembled, with 128 drawings, 3 marble sculptures, his earliest painting, and a wood architectural model for a chapel vault. Alongside this collection, there are paintings and other works by Michelangelo’s contemporaries, including teachers and pupils, as well as other artists who were influenced by him. The artist was known to draw what would become his famous sculptures and paintings first, and the pieces on display here include studies for the Sistine Chapel and an extensive cartoon for the Crucifixion of Saint Peter fresco in the Vatican Palace.

The show’s curator, Dr. Carmen C. Bambach, drew from 50 private and public collections including the Louvre in Paris, the Albertina in Vienna, and the Uffizi in Florence. “This selection of more than 200 works will show that Michelangelo’s imagery and drawings still speak with an arresting power today,” the curator for The Met’s department of drawings and prints said in a statement. “Five hundred years seem to melt away in looking at his art.”

Largest Michelangelo collection on display at The Met
Michelangelo Buonarroti, Portrait of Andrea Quaratesi, 1532. Drawing, black chalk. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art/ The British Museum, London.

Being touted as once-in-a-lifetime, the exhibition will only run for three months — until 12 February 2018 — with no chance of it being extended, since the delicate paper and materials that date back hundreds of years can’t be exposed to light for any longer that that. “This is an exceptionally rare opportunity to experience first-hand the unique genius of Michelangelo,” Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met, said in a statement. “The exhibition will display the magnificent beauty of Michelangelo’s works in order to deepen our understanding of his creative process.” The sheer scope of the exhibition would be tough to replicate any time soon, so art lovers should plan to see the show before it closes in February.