Jacob Wrey Mould Staircase (Metropolitan Museum Favorites, 10)

Jacob Wrey Mould did remarkable decorative work in Central Park, at Bethesda Terrace and elsewhere. You can also see his hand in the oldest section of the Metropolitan Museum. These stairs – which are, yes, one of my favorite things in the MMA – are from Wing A, opened to the public in 1880.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, stairs by Jacob Wrey Mould in the original museum (Wing A). Photo: Dianne L. Durante (c) 2014

Metropolitan Museum of Art, stairs by Jacob Wrey Mould in the original museum (Wing A). Photo: Dianne L. Durante (c) 2014

In the floor plan below, these stairs are one of the sets at the left side (toward Fifth Avenue). The original building consisted mostly of the vaulted room where the Met’s Christmas tree stands.


Plan of the ground floor of the original Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1880.

And here it is from the outside. The main entrance, facing Fifth Avenue, is that wee wooden staircase toward the right.


Metropolitan Museum of Art, Wing A, 1880.

I’ve described the evolution of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s building, with contemporary photos and architectural drawings, in an essay on the Forgotten Delights site. Reading it will give you a whole new perspective on the Met – and some understanding of why it’s so confusing to get from one part to another.


  • The research on the MMA was done as part of a videoguide / app on Central Park, soon to be published by Guides Who Know. The first app in the Guides Who Know series is Monuments of Manhattan.
  • Want more art like this delivered weekly to your inbox? Check out my Patreon page.

About Dianne L. Durante

I constantly seek out art that's inspiring, thought-provoking, skillfully executed, and/or beautiful so I can share it (in jargon-free language) with others who need and enjoy such art, but don't have time to search for it themselves. As an independent scholar, writer, and lecturer, I focus on art history and history, with forays into food, history, politics, and publishing. My most recent projects are three volumes on Alexander Hamilton, From Portraits to Puddles, Central Park: The Early Years, Innovators in Sculpture (a survey of 5,000 years of art in 2 hours), and videoguide apps by Guides Who Know. Click on the Books & Essays tab for a list of all books. For upcoming projects, see my Patreon page.

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