Art in Movies

Biggest Star of Ocean’s 8: The Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is the setting for this year’s summer heist movie, Ocean’s 8. In it a team of thieves decides to rob the museum during the Met Gala, which is a high profile event held every year by the prestigious institution. Although the crime committed by the fictional criminals is not real, the movie does portray many of the real pieces on display in the museum. It gives the movie a more authentic feel.

The Met is known for hosting some of the most famous exhibits in the world. The biggest one that they had ever hosted was the King Tutankhamen’s tomb exhibit shown in 1978, which brought in over 1.3 million patrons. Behind that was the Mona Lisa, displayed in 1968 to an audience of still over a million. Then there were the collections of Vatican Art and Painters in Paris, bringing in substantial visitor numbers as well. According to the ArtNews website, the top ten most popular exhibits shown at the Met came in over half a million visitors each. In order for them to exhibit such high profile art pieces in the museum they have to make sure they can guarantee the safety of the art.

Currently the museum holds one of the most expansive art collections in the world. The movie’s director tried to take advantage of that as much as possible by showing the audience many of the art in the background of the movie. It is easy to pick out the Vincent van Gogh self-portrait or the Paul Cezanne still life. Madame X by John Singer-Sargent gets a close up scene while an Amedeo Modigliani is identified in one of the setting shots. One of the crucial parts to the scheme relies on a miniature mock replica of Emmanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware and depicts the painting beautifully in the scene.  Showing so many pieces that are actually held in the museum help the audience feel like they are really there during the movie.

The story in the movie circles around the heist planned by the band of thieves to rob the Met during the yearly Gala. In the movie they use the theme of “Scepter and Orb,” showcasing royal jewels and fashion. While that theme was not real, it was inspired by the long history the Met has of combining fashion and art. The gala theme for 2017 was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” The scene where street artist Banksy hangs up a miniature of the Washington Crossing the Delaware, but with all female subjects, was a nod to the real life event of the artist hanging a woman’s portrait in the American wing in 2005. The main focus of the team’s theft is an elaborate diamond necklace being worn by one of the attendees of the Gala that they called the Toussaint. While this gorgeous and expensive piece of jewelry is not real, it was inspired by a necklace given to the Maharaja of Nawanagar and was created by Cartier, one of the most famous jewelers in the world.  It is clear that while the events depicted in the movie are false, the Met gave them plenty of real life inspiration.

If seeing such beautiful art in the movies encourages you to add some to your own collection, you don’t have to resort to thievery. Just browse through our extensive art collections to find the perfect piece. Many of the same artists that are hanging up in the Met can be found in our galleries, waiting for the right person to bring them home. These high quality reproductions will make it feel like you have your own museum piece hanging on your wall. At the affordable prices, they are a steal!

About the Author

Amanda graduated from the University of Kansas, where she studied English literature and got a masters degree in library sciences. She enjoys reading, cooking and playing with her nephews. Her best friend is her little dog Brady.