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As the museum-going public excitedly awaits the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's expanded southern wing, the NY Times reveals more details. About 5,300 works of Greek and Roman art now will see the light of day, with the gallery reopening tomorrow after a 15-year, $220 million redesign. During that time, an unbelievable 95 percent of the Met’s Greek and Roman collection had been collecting dust, so to speak.

The redesign comes more than 80 years after the opening of McKim, Mead & White’s 1926 gallery featuring “single-story peristyle court with Doric columns.” Fast forward to 1940 when then-Met director Francis Henry Taylor was bent on transforming the Roman court into a restaurant – a move that Met curator in charge of Greek and Roman art called an “amputation.”

According to the Times, the new courtyard has a two-story peristyle with Ionic columns and a tessera floor modeled after the Pantheon, with alternating green-and-red marble that was cut and shaped in Italy and laid sans grouting. The museum dug two stories below ground to install a steel framework that would hold 300 pounds per square foot – most museum floors can handle about 150 pounds per square foot. The original black-and-white mosaic tile floor that borders the gallery is still intact. So are the skylights - and there’s a nine-foot black marble fountain.

The renovated wing is the work of architect Kevin Roche, the Met’s resident architect for the last 40-ish years. The hardest challenge, Roche told the Times’ Robin Pogrebin, was dealing with the “human aspect.” And then there was the question of which moment in Roman architecture to honor.

“We decided to go from BC to AD, when the Roman republic was drifting into becoming an empire,” Mr. Roche said. “It was also the time of Augustus and a great time for culture – Horace and Virgil and Ovid.”

So how does an architect prepare for a redesign influenced by Rome? By studying Roman buildings, of course - namely the Theater of Marcellus, the Coliseum and the Basilica. He looked at Etruscan architecture from the period and the work of 16th-century architect Vignola (designer of the Villa Giulia) as well.

Approximately 3,500 works are displayed in the mezzanine, with nearby spaces featuring south Italian and Hellenistic art, Augustan Roman art, Roman imperial art and works of the later Roman empire. The galleries are organized chronologically, and a third-century BC Greek statue of Dionysus, weighing about 4,200 pounds, is the new wing’s heaviest piece of art.