When the Mona Lisa came to Manhattan

In early 1963, after a stint at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Mona Lisa went on display at the Metropolitan Museum of New York. Below, a shot of the line outside the Met snaking down Fifth Avenue to get into the exhibit.

Accompanied across the Atlantic by a flotilla of ships, the painting had never before left The Louvre, except when it was stolen in 1911 and whisked off to Italy for a few years.


More than a million people came to the Met to view it in person before it was brought back to France in a matter of weeks. 

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21 Responses to “When the Mona Lisa came to Manhattan”

  1. petey Says:

    i was there. still have the brochure. i was too young tho’ to remember actually looking at it.

  2. Joe R Says:

    I was a kid at the time but I kind of remember that viewers were given a very short time to actually look at the painting – something like 30 seconds – before being told to move on.

  3. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    The school dragged us uptown to see it but I have no recollection of it at all…Must of been in the 6th grade and tried to stay away from my nun and hardly ever succeeded. Real monsters teaching us Art Appreciation…Gimme a break!

  4. petey Says:

    art appreciation in the 6th grade? cool! wish i could have exchanged math for that.

  5. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Ha Ha! Whatever they called it, anyway the teachers were real bitches, that’s all I learned from them. Stay out of their way…

  6. zenyenta Says:

    I saw it, briefly. We had moved out to LI by then, but we went in to see that. My mother brought us, I think. As I recall, we couldn’t get too close and couldn’t linger too long.

  7. Maryann Lebowitz Says:

    I was 3 years old my father brought us to see her. It was his passion for the masters and his excitement for art that drove him to do what he did. We couldn’t get close enough to see her so my father lifted me up above the crowd so I could see her. I have a memory of this. Maybe it was his description that gives me the memory. I can feel him lifting me and I can see her face.

  8. Amir Baradaran Says:

    Just came across this lovely video concerning the Mona Lisa!!!

  9. Bart Says:

    The person who they are talking too was my father Joseph Lasky a New York cabbie who drove his own cab until the day he passed away. He arrived at 4:30 am to get in line and was the first person in NY to see the lovely Mona Lisa

  10. meryl shaye Says:

    I am the daughter of Joseph Lasky and Bart is my brother, my dad was the first person to see the Mona Lisa never even knew the picture existed until I did the research, I was 6 years old and the time and my brother was 8 years old I will treasure this picture forever I wish I could get the audio to go with the picture. My dad passed away february 2000 I don’t know if he ever got to the the picture of him in the front line.

  11. Donny Says:

    dope video!

  12. Pat Check Says:

    We went with school. I was in my sophomore year. It was beautiful.

  13. Helen Says:

    It broke my heart to have to move out of the city to the suburbs, missing our P.S. 111 class trip to see the Mona Lisa in NYC in 1963! I still have the letters from my teacher and classmates that detailed their trip and how sorry they were that I missed it. Well, I just viewed it along with my husband during our first trip to Paris. A worthwhile experience.

  14. carol williams Says:

    i went with our class jhs 101 bx –jackie kennedy had much to do with bringing the art to nyc and washington dc–she had the connections to get the donations necessary for the exhibits–very substantial.
    i also saw the pieta . it was amazing. during the times of the worlds fair nyc was the pitstop for many art pieces to come to the us. but jackie was truly marvelous for other things besides fashion!! she had the grand central station re-done.before her death. During Kennedy”s term they arranged for the temple of dendur which would have been submerged as well as the ramses collosii” a truly fabulous woman–i guess you had to be there!!

  15. richard pinckney Says:

    I was there with my mom as a young child. I remember the painting not being very big. I have the program for sale if anyone would like to purchase it

  16. aleix molet Says:

    Reblogged this on strikethrough blog.

  17. Martha Says:

    I was their at the Metropolitan Museum of art in 1963, the line was so long but when our turn came my Mom and I it was breath taking. I still remember as if it where yesterday.

  18. Arlene Berry Says:

    I went with my BFF and her Mom back in 63. Saw Mona Lisa close up as you could get. Pretty amazing, but I do Remember being underwhelmed at the size of the painting.

  19. Marjorie Lauver Says:

    I saw the Mona Lisa in NYC when I had just turned 7. I begged to go as my birthday present, which was January 7th. Went through the line twice-first the fast line and then the slower line. I was thrilled! Then my family took us to the Automat. The best day ever!

  20. wendy cruz Says:

    I saw the Mona Lisa there thanks to a class trip that was amazing. Its something this 66 yr old still remembers well

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