For 25 years, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has hosted an evening to honor and raise funds for their collection’s continued acquisition of new works. Previously called the Met Acquisition’s Gala, the Art & Artists Gala for The Met Collection is one of the museum’s most significant events. But it’s not merely a matter of celebrating expansion for growth’s sake—with the welcoming of new works comes the recognition of once marginalized art, the introduction of contemporary artworks and artists, and the overall rounding out of one of the world’s most esteemed institutions. A museum’s collection is never complete, and last night’s gala ensures the work can go on.
Sponsored by Tiffany and Co., the Met’s Art & Artists Gala gathered top contemporary artists alongside museum benefactors for a seated black-tie dinner. Artists like Simone Leigh, Jordan Casteel, Lee Bul, and Rashid Johnson joined to fête the museum alongside gala co-chairs Samantha Boardman, Amy Griffin, Dasha Zhukova Niarchos, Gina Peterson, and Ann G. Tenenbaum. Guests gathered for cocktails and passed caviar in the museum’s iconic Great Hall, awash in blue and green lighting and decorated with greenery bouquets and faux taxidermy birds that evoked early days of museum collecting and cabinets of curiosities.
At the 2023 Art & Artists Gala, the museum highlighted the curatorial team’s efforts to create new narratives and recontextualize the art history canon. Spotlighted artists included Guerilla Girls (the NYC-based feminist art activist group launched in 1985), Tiffany Girls (the women who helped craft some of Tiffany Studios’ art nouveau masterworks at the turn of the 20th century), Mary Sully (the Yankton Dakota artist), and David Diao (a contemporary Chinese American artist).
Nicky Hilton Rothschild, who wore an elegant Oscar de la Renta dress and her hair in a chignon, told Vogue, “The Met is a New York institution and it completes the city. I’ve always been a big fan of the museum’s Medieval collection.” Meanwhile, artist Amy Sherald, wearing a chic Alexander McQueen gown, told Vogue, “Every time I come here, I see all parts of art history. Then I go downstairs and am in a different world because of the Costume Institute. All parts of the ecosystem exist in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.”
As the cocktail hour came to a close, two individuals dressed in ornate jaguar costumes banged dinner gongs to usher attendees through the Egyptian wing to the Temple of Dendur. Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld, Rachel Feinstein, John Currin, Derek Blasberg, and Karlie Kloss were among the crowd ambling among ancient Egyptian sarcophagi and hieroglyphs en route to the seated dinner.
Sitting within the Temple of Dendur, built in the first century B.C., museum supporters like Robert Kraft, Leonard Stern, and Vanessa Getty were in for a treat with a dinner menu of salad and short ribs curated by chef James Kent. On the occasion of the Art & Artists Gala, Van Wyck transformed the venue with floral tablescapes and lighting resembling stained glass that morphed throughout the candle-lit night with each dinner course. The gala was punctuated by speakers’ remarks, including Nairy Baghramian, whose abstract sculptures are currently on display on the Met’s façade.
For dessert, guests were invited to knock a lucite hammer against a grand display of chocolate bark stalagmites, an artistic conclusion to a fabulous night at the Met, on which a record $4.4 million was raised.