8. Open-air courtyards were once part of the Museum

Rooftop of the Met Museum

One of the design principles shared by the original and subsequent designers–Vaux and Mould, Richard Morris Hunt, and McKim Mead and White–was to use courtyards to provide natural light. Over time these have all been filled in. With the advent of and preference for electric lighting and air conditioning, it was “no longer necessary to have interior courtyards [to] serve as light wells and air shafts…Thus began an informal program, today nearly complete, to fill in the vast interstices between the Museum’s wings” [Heckscher].