The Art Committee of the Union League Club held a meeting led by William Cullen Bryant to discuss the creation of The New York City Metropolitan Museum of Art on November 23, 1869, in the Theatre of the Club on Twenty-sixth Street. Invitations were sent to the members of the Union League Club, the National Academy of Design and other artists, the Institute of Architects, the New York Historical Society, the Century, Manhattan, and other clubs.
Fortunately Alfred J. Bloor remembers what happened that same evening after the public meeting.
Well I remember the ‘sea of upturned faces’ and the applause that greeted the venerable poet and publicist as he (William Cullen Bryant) rose to address the audience, as well as the dead silence that followed when he opened his lips to speak.
I recall the supper (still under the roof of the hospitable Union League Club) which followed the formal endorsement of the preliminary labors of the months before- hand. The supper party consisted of twelve, thus escaping by only one the unlucky number. The participants consisted of Mr. Bryant, who occupied the head of the table; Mr. Putnam, Mr. A very, Prof. Comfort; two clergymen, Drs. Bellows and Thompson; three painters, Messrs. Kensett, Baker, and Whittredge; and three of my own profession, Cal- vert Vaux, Consulting Architect of the Central Park Board, P. B. Wight, architect of the National Academy of Design, and myself.
Much good humor prevailed over the result of the previous exertions of those who had been most active in the premises. There was a free exchange of opinion as to the prospects of the new-born institution and as to available methods for carrying it to success, to which and to the chief workers so far toasts were pledged.
To read more about the Metropolitan Museum of Art and it’s opening on April 13, 1870 visit The Internet Archive’s website.