Posts Tagged ‘Met Museum Lila Acheson Wallace’

The story behind the flowers in the lobby of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

January 23, 2023

When you walk through the front doors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you enter a Neoclassical lobby that’s an architectural treasure in its own right—with dramatic archways, a marble floor, and a ceiling that seems to soar to the heavens.

But amid the coolness of the stone and marble, there’s a feature of the museum’s “Great Hall” that adds an aura of warmth and life: the giant urns that contain beautiful oversize fresh flower arrangements.

These lovely blooms change weekly; they tend to reflect the seasons. And just like every work of art displayed at the Met, there’s a story behind them.

The flowers were the idea of philanthropist Lila Acheson Wallace. In the late 1960s, she funded an endowment that would allow Met administrators to purchase and display weekly “starburst” flower arrangements throughout the lobby.

“An ephemeral addition to an otherwise timeless space, the florals change every Tuesday thanks to the generosity of a single donor, Lila Acheson Wallace, whose endowment in 1967 funded fresh flowers in perpetuity,” reported the New York Times in 2016.

Wallace herself reportedly wanted the flowers to convey to visitors, “we’re expecting you—welcome.”

Wallace, who with her husband founded Readers’ Digest in 1922, was a major benefactor of the Met. Museum-goers may recognize her name above the entrance to the Lila Acheson Wallace wing, which opened in 1987 to exhibit modern art.

Though she passed away in 1984, her endowment continues to grace the Great Hall and bring a sense of the present to a building famed for its antiquities.

[Top image: TomasEE/Wikipedia; third image: MetKids/]