The Met review: Lighted signs, great music and more than 40,000 books

Written by By Jaimie Hodgson, CNN

Drivers attempting to use The Esplanade bus lane in Bangkok have been left baffled, even fed up, with the lack of signage or information.

The so-called “designated bus lane” in the Thai capital has been shut since August in a bid to help traffic flows, and the Thai government has plans to expand its coverage.

But any mystification motorists have felt may be understandable: it’s been unclear just how the new bus lane works — or if it has at all.

Jonathan Ornstein, chief executive of The Metropolitan Museum of Art , visited the bus lane in Bangkok over the weekend to investigate.

Check out a selection of photos below and let us know your thoughts on the bus lane in the comments below.

Museum staff aboard the Aquarium Ferry, the pastel-hued ferries that connect the Central World shopping mall to the elevated train station. Credit: Courtesy Jonathan Ornstein

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is sometimes referred to as “The Met’s,” and it was at Central World on Saturday that Ornstein spent about two hours exploring. It has a reputation as an “art destination” — known for being more accessible than other museums to locals and visitors across Asia.

Perhaps this explains why, while the multi-storey mall, along with the adjoining water parks, still fill up with visitors on weekends, there is surprisingly little signage pointing visitors towards the museum: Ornstein said signage — even in well-lit areas — was minimal and dated.

Jonathan Ornstein, chief executive of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, reviews The Esplanade bus lane in Bangkok. Credit: Courtesy Jonathan Ornstein

On one level, that’s understandable; as it’s not a major tourist destination, The Metropolitan Museum of Art may not have as many bodyguards or publicists helping to promote its footprint. But as a global institution it should, of course, have its own art marketing and communications team to create more prominent advertising.

Museum staff on the left point visitors toward the Esplanade. Credit: Courtesy Jonathan Ornstein

The Metropolitan Museum of Art draws tourists from around the world to its eight museums — including the Royal Miao Collection — which help make Central World an “art destination.”

It also gives visitors a quick glimpse at fine art stored in the adjoining Metropolitan Library. Both, and the sculptures lining its walkways, appeal to travelers. On another level, it should, perhaps, be more visible to local visitors.

Jorge, an 87-year-old retiree from Vietnam, has been visiting Central World for over 10 years. Though he is often baffled by the advertising at the mall, he says there is little information about the Met, especially since he’s planning to visit it when he returns to his home country in November.

Jonathan Ornstein, chief executive of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, walks through Central World’s shopping mall. Credit: Courtesy Jonathan Ornstein

The Met’s no-frills shop, where visitors can see a selection of the museum’s books — now mostly on borrowed books — in its new space. Credit: Courtesy Jonathan Ornstein

“They have a lot of museums, but here the exact same products,” he said.

In the 1940s and 1950s, the Met was situated in New York’s Time Square, but much of the department’s collection, including its decorative arts, is housed in three distinctive facilities across the United States, in New York, Washington and Miami.

Jonathan Ornstein, chief executive of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, discusses its new space in Bangkok. Credit: Courtesy Jonathan Ornstein

Central World’s central area is the size of three football fields. It’s a staggeringly large open space, fully connected to the subway station. As the water park and shopping mall grow into the surrounding landscape, it could possibly get too crowded — even for visitors willing to take the Tube or taxi.

That said, Cang Yan, an investor in a new shopping mall with a pop-up museum, hasn’t encountered any issues at all.

The Met can also be found inside Bangkok’s central Luang Prabang, which opened in September 2017.

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