Multimedia design and production company Sila Sveta (@silasveta) makes light and sound installations that transport you to otherworldly spaces — particularly so when they’re inspired by Rei Kawakubo, the conceptual fashion designer and the subject of this year’s retrospective at the Met Gala. Held each spring by Vogue magazine (@voguemagazine) and the Metropolitan Museum of Arts’ (@metmuseum) Costume Institute in New York City, the Met Gala draws the biggest names in fashion, music, art and film — like co-host Katy Perry (@katyperry), here in Sila Sveta’s installation at the Met Gala. “With the technology we have, art and fashion can come to life,” say Alexander Us and Alexey Rozov, co-founders of Sila Sveta. “We wanted to celebrate colors, textures and the avant-garde.”
A seated female student studies statues in a sculpture gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, January 1939. Alfred Eisenstaedt, Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.
LIFE.com presents a selection of evocative (and sometimes playful) images that offer a virtual tour, of sorts, through one of the world’s great museums, taken at a time in the Met’s history when one could, on a good day, walk through the collections and not be confronted with jostling crowds.
PAT STEIR, Sixteen Waterfalls of Dreams, Memories, and Sentiment (detail), USA 1990. Oil on canvas. Part of the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, New York. Photography by Scandinavian Collectors 2016.