Protesters Crash Koch Plaza Opening at the Met

The Metropolitan Museum's new plaza.
Photo: oliverography/Instagram.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s new $65 million David H. Koch Plaza was unveiled Tuesday, before officially opening to the public today. As reported by the Art Newspaper, the 1,021-foot-long, 70,706-square-foot plaza features two 48-jet granite fountains and 106 newly planted trees, doubling the amount of greenery on the museum’s four-block-long stretch of Fifth Avenue. According to a press release, 40 percent of the plaza is now shaded, thanks to the trees and a number of large red umbrellas.

The museum’s director and chief executive, Thomas Campbell (see Met Hosts US Citizenship Ceremony for Tom Campbell), and outgoing president Emily Rafferty (see Met President Emily Rafferty Retiring), were on hand for last night’s dedication ceremony. The fountains were turned on, and visitors in the new seating areas enjoyed a relaxing evening listening to performances—including a choir’s rendition of Pharrell Williams’s hit song “Happy.”

“Finally, more than a century after the completion of the Met’s grand Fifth Avenue facade, and more than 40 years after its last plaza renovation,” remarked Campbell at the event, “the museum has created a truly welcoming point of entry, a cityscape that is environmentally friendly and that will please our visitors as they come to experience the unparalleled breadth of masterpieces on display inside.”

Met trustee David Koch, who funded the two-year $65 million project, designed by the landscape architecture firm Olin, also spoke, calling himself a “person who wanted to make the world a better place.”

The opening, however, was not without its hiccups, as several protesters were on hand to voice their disapproval of Koch’s involvement by acting out plays mocking the conservative billionaire and Tea Party supporter’s denial of climate change. Photos and videos from Hyperallergic’s Instagram feed show police clearing the plaza of protesters, who continued to make their stand on the far side of Fifth Avenue.

Quoth Gothamist: “One glance into the fountain’s onyx waters and your mind will be blissfully cleansed of any awareness of the Koch Brothers’ responsibility for climate change and evil in general.”

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