Like the Louvre in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum is a fabulously wealthy storehouse of incalculable value, "a living encyclopedia of world art. Every culture from every part of the world - from Florence to Thebes to Papua New Guinea - from the earliest times to the present and in every medium", "frequently at the highest levels of quality and invention", is represented. Also like the Louvre, its holdings are immense - "more than three million works of art, of which several hundred thousand are on view."
The guide, organized in the same fashion as the museum, suffers only by its inability to represent the museum completely. Choices had to be made. How incredible is it that the museum holds thirty paintings by Monet and the editors of the guide were forced to choose only four? How many museums in the world could lay claim to having five paintings by an artist as illustrious as Vermeer and yet be limited to including only three in their guide?
Having been fortunate enough to indulge in a recent visit to the museum, I can tell you that all five works by Vermeer and all thirty by Monet were as magnificent as one might imagine. The guide (a wonderful way to prepare in advance for any upcoming visit) will serve as a memorable souvenir and the descriptive text written by the curatorial staff of the museum will serve to elucidate the history and context of the individual pieces of art that were chosen to best represent the museum as a whole.
Highly recommended as a way of enjoying the world's art even if you think you will never be in a position to enjoy the visit in person.