All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me by Patrick Bringley

All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me by Patrick Bringley

Title:  All the Beauty in the World: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Me
Author: Patrick Bringley
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Genre:  Biographies & Memoirs
Format:  Kindle
No. of Pages:  239
Date of US Publication:  14 February, 2023
My Rating:  4 Stars

My Thoughts 

For his first job after he graduated college, my husband was a (night) guard at the Met, himself, and I really wanted to read this book because everytime I ask about what to me seems like an all-encompassingly fascinating job, all my husband says, was that it was boring (boring! 😒) - standing in one spot for hours, not moving, except for your shifts in different areas (a few hours in one area, a few hours in the next, and so on - he said they had 4 and 4 shifts per night. After nearly a year, the position was no longer tolerable enough to tempt him, the commute lengthy from his Jersey City home base, and he left for another, closer,  job. That answer has never appealed to my curiosity, sense of romance, and everlasting sense of wonder for the Met, which was my favorite museum to visit during childhood (we lived in NJ, so visits were consistent, if not as frequent as I would have liked). Reading this seemed like a good way to learn about the magic of the place. 

It also offered so much more as a thoughtful and beautifully written memoir, in which Mr. Bringley shares his grief and his process throughout navigating that cruel and awful time. 

The writing here is honest, poignant, and the author writes about the art he has now spent so much time with very lovingly. The writing/storytelling is terrific.

It also holds enough history and information about the art and the museum to satisfy my longing to know more. 

A definite recommendation. 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for the DRC.


A fascinating, revelatory portrait of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and its treasures by a former New Yorker staffer who spent a decade as a museum guard.

Millions of people climb the grand marble staircase to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art every year. But only a select few have unrestricted access to every nook and cranny. They’re the guards who roam unobtrusively in dark blue suits, keeping a watchful eye on the two million square foot treasure house. Caught up in his glamorous fledgling career at 
The New Yorker, Patrick Bringley never thought he’d be one of them. Then his older brother was diagnosed with fatal cancer and he found himself needing to escape the mundane clamor of daily life. So he quit The New Yorker and sought solace in the most beautiful place he knew.

To his surprise and the reader’s delight, this temporary refuge becomes Bringley’s home away from home for a decade. We follow him as he guards delicate treasures from Egypt to Rome, strolls the labyrinths beneath the galleries, wears out nine pairs of company shoes, and marvels at the beautiful works in his care. Bringley enters the museum as a ghost, silent and almost invisible, but soon finds his voice and his tribe: the artworks and their creators and the lively subculture of museum guards—a gorgeous mosaic of artists, musicians, blue-collar stalwarts, immigrants, cutups, and dreamers. As his bonds with his colleagues and the art grow, he comes to understand how fortunate he is to be walled off in this little world, and how much it resembles the best aspects of the larger world to which he gradually, gratefully returns.

In the tradition of classic workplace memoirs like 
Lab Girl and Working StiffAll The Beauty in the World is a surprising, inspiring portrait of a great museum, its hidden treasures, and the people who make it tick, by one of its most intimate observers.


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