The Metropolitan Opera House, Home to Massive Marc Chagall Murals, to Renovate Lobby

The 50-year-old building is in need of a new look.

The Metropolitan Opera House.
Photo: courtesy the Metropolitan Opera House.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts will get a new look courtesy of Ennead Architects, reports the New York Times. The project will involve the renovation and expansion of the lobby.

Formerly known as Polshek Partnership, Ennead has been involved in museum and performing art space renovations and expansions from Washington, DC to Shanghai.

The Metropolitan Opera House's Marc Chagall mural, <em>The Triumph of Music</em>.<br>Photo: Niall Kennedy, Flickr creative commons.

The Metropolitan Opera House’s Marc Chagall mural, The Triumph of Music.
Photo: Niall Kennedy, Flickr creative commons.

Built by architect Wallace K. Harrison in 1966, the building was subject to cost-cutting measures which resulted in a cramped lobby. The Met is hoping to improve the space with the help of fundraising support, pending public approval.

“We chose Ennead because their ideas seemed most attuned to the original Wallace Harrison plan for an extended lobby,” Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, told the Times, citing the firm’s “successful designs of the recent glass extensions of the Brooklyn Museum and the Planetarium, as well as their redesign of the Public Theater lobby.”

The Metropolitan Opera House's "Sputnik" chandeliers. Photo: Paula Soler-Moya, Flickr creative commons.

The Metropolitan Opera House’s “Sputnik” chandeliers.
Photo: Paula Soler-Moya, Flickr creative commons.

Any changes to the space will have to take into account the two large Marc Chagall murals which grace each side of the opera house’s sweeping dual staircase. The Triumph of Music and The Sources of Music, both of which are visible from the plaza outside, are 30 by 36 feet each. A 2009 New York magazine article pegged the value of the two paintings, which were used at the time as collateral to cover a cash-flow shortage, at $20 million.

The lobby’s decor also includes eleven crystal “sputnik” chandeliers by Hans Rath that were donated to the Met by the Vienna State Opera in gratitude of American help rebuilding the destination site after World War II. The iconic lighting fixtures were refurbished in 2008 on the occasion of the Met’s 125th anniversary.

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