The Metropolitan Museum of Art was incorporated in 1870 with high hopes of giving to New York a first-class example of that quintessential nineteenth-century institution known as the art museum, already well-established in the great European cities. By so doing, New York would show itself to be more than just a city dedicated to making money, but a city in touch with the loftier things in life. The Met grew haphazardly, and sometimes comically, through the next decade; by the time its first building in Central Park opened in 1880, few would have predicted that it would become one of the greatest museums in the world. Look closely, though, and you will see the seeds being planted. This lavishly illustrated lecture will introduce students to the Met’s early movers and shakers — John Taylor Johnston, William T. Blodgett, Luigi Palma di Cesnola, and Henry Gurdon Marquand, among others — from its inception until J.P. Morgan became the museum’s president in 1904. Examine the founders’ motives and artistic values and learn about their acquisitions for the museum, many of which are still on display.