The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on this day in 1870 when the New York State Legislature granted it an Act of Incorporation "for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said City a Museum and Library of Art, of encouraging and developing the Study of the Fine Arts, and the application of Art to manufacture and natural life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and to that end of furnishing popular instruction and recreations." Around two years after the founding date, on February 20th, the museum opened its doors for the first time.

Two years ago the New Yorker wrote: "The architectural history of the Met spans more than one century, twelve firms, five master plans, and seventeen wings, but if there is a dominant theme it is this: bringing Calvert Vaux to his senses. Vaux had won the commission based on his standing as one of the masterminds of Central Park..." but the red-brick stone structure he delivered was criticized for being out of fashion. Railroad exec John Taylor Johnston was the first president of the Met, and called the design "a mistake."

The Beaux-Arts facade and grand entrance you see today was designed by architect Richard Morris Hunt; the former completed in 1902. New architectural elements have been added since then, and today the Met is 1/4-mile long, with 2,000,000 square-feet... that's about 20 times the size of the original building!