With so many popular YouTube videos revolving around lowbrow humor and simple-minded pop songs, the online video sphere is clearly in need of a little high culture. Luckily, one of the world’s most famous art museums is up to the task. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has launched a 100 episode web series titled 82nd and Fifth, where curators discuss pieces from the Met collection that have inspired their own views on the art world.
The 100 episodes will be released two at a time over fifty weeks, making 82nd and Fifth a yearlong exercise in online video. The two-minute episodes go into some detail about a particular work of art, focusing on whatever elements the featured curators finds particularly relevant. The general tone is similar to that of a museum guide, and in a way, the web series allows viewers to tour a small portion of the Met’s collection without ever having to set foot in the actual museum. Interactive tools even allow viewers to explore the featured work of art in their own personal way.
The first few episodes have already shown a great variety, not just in the highlighted works but also in the content of each lecture. The debut episode, on Rossellino’s Madonna and Child with Angels, informs viewers how the work’s form translates into specific emotions; in the other episode released that week, we learn how the style of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Living Room from the Little House was influenced by its intended function. Aside from the fact that both episodes examine works of art, they could not be more different. It’s this variety that will allow 82nd and Fifth to have the legs for 100 episodes.
Of course, there are millions of works at the Met, and while 100 is a huge number by web series standards, 82nd and Fifth will only be able to scratch the surface of such a legendary collection. Nonetheless, as a vehicle for getting the Internet interested in fine art, the series succeeds with aplomb, leaving viewers wanting to learn more.