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

Patrick Bringley

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. more

NonfictionMemoirArtAudiobookBiographyNew YorkBiography MemoirHistoryArt HistoryMuseums

240 pages, ebook
First published Simon Schuster

4.1

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7244

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1139

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Patrick Bringley

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Patrick Bringley worked for ten years as a guard in the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His memoir, ALL THE BEAUTY IN THE WORLD, was named a best book of the year by New York Public Library, NPR, the Financial Times, Audible, and the Sunday Times (London), which selected it as the outstanding art book of 2023. He lectures at museums around the country and leads public and private tours at the Met (complete information at patrickbringley.com). He lives with his wife and children in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. ALL THE BEAUTY IN THE WORLD is his first book.

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Teres
113 reviews
364 followers
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Patrick Bringley grew up near Chicago, but he fell in love with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art when his mother brought him at age 11. Around the same age, I, too, became enamored with the Met. While I had not visited in person (yet), I spent days roaming its hallowed halls along with Claudia and James as I read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. more


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Marialyce (back in the USA!)
2054 reviews
700 followers
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Years ago, when I was a teacher, I had the opportunity to attend the Lincoln Center summer program for educators. I also received credits for doing so and for three summers in a row, I traveled to NYC and participated in this program. It was a most wonderful experience and one that I will always remember feeling ever so fortunate to get up close and personal with both the Center and the MET. It was because of this amazing experience, that I decided to read this book. I identified with Patrick Bringley as he took us through his visceral and emotional experience working as a guard at the MET. more


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Fredrik deBoer
136 reviews
645 followers
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Three and a half stars. Some years ago I read a book called Making Rent in Bed-Stuy by Brandon Harris. It’s one of those quintessential first-book essay collections, of the type where the titular theme of the book is effectively explored and then a set of mostly-unrelated essays is wedged in to make the project book-length. My Goodreads review read “When it’s about making rent in Bed-Stuy, it’s good. When it isn't, it’s. more


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Chris
177 reviews
3 followers
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This is a tough one for me to review fairly - I was a security guard at the Met from 1996 to 1998 and this book kind of warms my heart. And one of my friends from guarding, Emilie L. , is still there and a friend of the author, and featured in this book. What. It’s a good book. more


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Maxwell
1224 reviews
9784 followers
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If you've ever been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you've likely been overwhelmed by its size and coverage of so much of human history through the lens of art and artifacts. In this memoir recounting his tenure as a guard at the Met, Patrick Bringley presents a story of grief and healing through the mundane and miraculous experience of being: being alive, being a human, being an observer of art and other humans. Through the everyday occurrences to the once-in-a-lifetime moments, Bringley takes us behind the curtain of working at the Met, while showing how his work there helped him process the death of his brother. I really loved this book. Not only because I love art and art history, and having visited the Met a few times in my life, love it as well. more


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India M. Clamp
240 reviews
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Patrick Bringley sought peace and a sense of otherworldliness at "The Met. " Slowly he forged connections with co-workers and in a sense orchestrated a a quasi home within the halls of lovely yet silent art. Though he meanders a bit with the transition between present and past, yet the prose (quite unexpected) smooths swiftly any coarse transitions. Referring to a landscape by Monet, "When I experience such a thing, I feel faint but definite tremors in my chest. ” A guide, guard or cautious employed sentinel was his official capacity for a decade in quotidian warm bath of art. more


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Annie
98 reviews
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I’m overcome by this exquisite memoir. It was an incredibly enlightening read and I know that my review won’t do it justice. I savoured every word and am in awe of how poetic and meditative it is. I appreciated the fact that it’s simple and ordinary, yet raw and philosophical at the same time, which is an idea that Bringley discusses about art that I think perfectly encapsulates his book as well. I really enjoyed his perspective about his colleagues and the work environment, as well as the visitors and his thoughts about specific pieces of art. more


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Geoffrey
583 reviews
55 followers
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(Note: I received and advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)I’ll start off by stating bluntly that I adore museums in general, and my favorite place in the entirety of nearby New York City is hands-down the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where I have spent many an hour. So it will probably be of absolutely no surprise whatsoever that I heartily enjoyed Patrick Bingely’s All the Beauty in the World. The book provided a wonderfully intimate look into the world of the museum guards, providing readers a wonderful opportunity to learn about the world they inhabit that puts them both in the thick of it and also behind the scenes. Bingley’s writing also provides a much needed and probably very overdue spotlight on these men and women in general - for how many museum visitors to the Met and similar institutions passed by these ubiquitous employees without giving them so much as a thought, much less a second glance. I of course can’t speak for others, but I can definitely consider myself quite guilty on this matter, and in turn am quite appreciative of the newfound consideration I’m able to devote to them. more


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Katherine Reay
103 reviews
3126 followers
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book and Bringley's insights into the Met, its art, and its people. I also appreciated his exploration of grief, healing, and gentle call to see and enjoy all the beauty around us. I highly recommend. . more


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theliterateleprechaun
1571 reviews
27 followers
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I saw a review on my Goodreads feed this Spring for this book and immediately knew I needed to read it. Teres' review is worth checking out. This was indeed balm for my soul. Leaving his employ at The New Yorker after he lost his older brother to cancer, Patrick Bringley takes a temporary job as a museum guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s his plan to use this time in a job that doesn’t require much from him, to heal. more


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Philip
1498 reviews
91 followers
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Great book that should be required reading before any design student takes their first art history class. * Part museum guide, part memoir, part rumination on life - just a really enjoyable tour of the Met** through the eyes of one really observant former museum guard. While I was a graphic designer in a previous career and took my share of art courses, my interest in this stuff is really more based on my travel history, and so while Bringley covers his fair share of Michelangelo, Bruegel, Jesus's, impressionists, blah-blah-blah. I was always more attracted to the Met's "non-painting" offerings. However, Bringley spends just as much - if not more - time in the Egyptian, Islamic and Micheal D. more


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Haley Baumeister
139 reviews
110 followers
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Man, I enjoyed this. Full of longing, aching beauty - of life itself, its vast artwork, and the work of sharing it all with others. This was a comforting book. It was even read by the author in a cadence that felt like the stories themselves had the pace of a walk through the museum. more


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Vannetta Chapman
612 reviews
1406 followers
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What a lovely story. This book certainly isn't for everyone. Some will find it slow, lacking action and the tropes we're used to. However, that. to me. more


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Jodi Walsh
38 reviews
1 followers
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Such a good, thoughtful book not only as a reflection of looking at art but of work. And I recommend looking up the art images as you read. He includes some sketches of the works but it's nice to see the actual pieces. more


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Andrew D
43 reviews
1 followers
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Book 22 review. I really found this book boring. I’m sorry. I feel almost rude saying that, and for giving it 2 stars, but wow I could barely finish it. I will say, it was interesting to read about the connection a person can have to a place like the Met, a building and an organization that can sometimes seem other worldly or even reverential, but I really wanted it to be more about the art than the feelings one particular person has toward art and being a security guard in a prestigious museum. more


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Samantha
1877 reviews
116 followers
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I’ll preface this review by saying that I’m generally not a fan of memoirs and if you are, you might like this better than I did. I picked this up in spite of an aversion to the genre because I’m a lover of art with a couple of degrees in Art History, and thought it might be a fun insiders tour of The Met. Unfortunately, it’s not. What I had hoped for from this book was fun behind the scenes Met content, little known or lesser known information about the collection, or interesting museum security protocol. Instead, this is largely the personal memoir of a guard, and is more about his personal life and how that relates to his museum job than about the museum itself. more


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Leanne
665 reviews
66 followers
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I preordered this book months ago and was so excited to read it. An absolutely gorgeous book about love and beauty, grief and healing. All the Beauty in the World is about a man who is grief-stricken after the loss of his older brother to cancer at twenty-seven. Toward the end, sitting at his brother’s bedside in the hospital with his mother, they are utterly devastated into silence. A shaft of life streams in through a curtain and his mother says something like, “Look at us, we have become a fucking old masters painting. more


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David Glick
15 reviews
6 followers
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This is the best kind of memoir. Bringley worked as a guard at the Met for 10 years, and this book is about his experiences and his reflections on the art he worked amongst. He brings his own story into the narrative only sparingly, and tastefully. I keep thinking about how he enjoys and interprets the art without reserve, even as a guard. The implicit message seems to be: you do not have to be an art history student to enjoy great art. more


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Jax
197 reviews
23 followers
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It is said that resilience can be cultivated. But sometimes the death of a young and supremely loved person will overtake our timeline. The distant, aversive path we all believe will be available to us before a hole is blasted in our soul. It wouldn’t have occurred to Patrick Bringley that his older brother, Tom, would die before him. A brilliant mathematician who choses the abstract language of bio math because, Tom says, of the amazing single cell, its fantastic redundancies and millions of variations on a theme. more


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Jess
242 reviews
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Ugh, this is probably the most self-indulgent memoir I've read in a long time. Summary: privileged, educated white man takes low paying job and loves it. He passes judgment on museum goers and assesses their worth based on his interpretation of their motivations and quick comments. At no time does he attempt to find common ground between himself and his coworkers who do not have the choice and agency he does. Instead, he continually remarks on difference. more


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Heather Moll
320 reviews
136 followers
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While the author’s emotions were swirling after the death of his brother, his shift to work as a museum guard brought a simplicity and calmness to a stressful time. It is almost as heavy on his brother’s cancer and dealing with grief as it is with art and the author’s emotional recovery and growth into adulthood. An enjoyable memoir against the backdrop of one of the most impressive museums in the world. I distinctly remember my visits to the Met—the grand staircase, the temple of Dendur, arms and armor, Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock—and it was lovely to revisitSome of the philosophical musings run long when more behind the scenes insight was what I wanted, but visiting the museum made it worthwhile. This is must-read for Met and art fans, just be aware of the cancer and grief content. more


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Chrissie
1050 reviews
62 followers
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After his brother's death following a battle with cancer, Patrick Bringley leaves his job at The New Yorker and finds solace in working as a guard at The Metropolitan Museum of Art for nearly a decade. All the Beauty in the World is a beautiful exploration of loss, recovery, and the journey that many of us will inevitably travel. Through Bringley's meditative reflections and between-the-scenes tour of The Met, he provides a unique perspective on the healing power of art. His adjustment to a world without his brother is precipitated by simply absorbing life through the beauty and connections around him, both through the art in the museum and by observing and interacting with the patrons who come to view some of the most revered works in the world. Audiobook, as narrated by the author: Bringley's narration left something to be desired. more


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Christina Pilkington
1672 reviews
215 followers
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4. 5 starsI'm always attracted to memoirs that have anything to do with art, so I immediately downloaded this audiobook from my library when I saw it in the catalog. Patrick Bringley tells the story of being a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for ten years. He describes the day he was hired, what it's like when you constantly have to answer the question, "Is that real. " and when you have to disappoint guests who want to know where the Mona Lisa is. more


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jrendocrine
593 reviews
42 followers
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A very nice, sweet and simple appreciation of the amazing Metropolitan Museum of Art. Not deep, but sure does make me want to spend time at the Met. more


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Martin, I stand with ISRAEL
175 reviews
0 followers
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This book was boring. The whole thing was a chore read. I am glad I didn’t pay for this book. more


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Erin Ching
281 reviews
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A good, quick read on what it's like to be a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My favorite parts were his descriptions of visitors, as observed through the eyes of employees of the museum. Also - this memoir would be really fun to pair with "The Art Thief" (high end art security guard v high end art thief). more


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Isa
239 reviews
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Incredibly touching, probably my favourite memoir. more


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Brooklyn
211 reviews
56 followers
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I wanted to like this one a lot more - it began well for me. And then I realized though there were side tours into art history and NYC and grief - nothing really added up to a dynamic read that will change your life. In fact I found the author bland and slightly entitled and naive in his views on art and how those great works of art were obtained by these millionaire founded storehouse of “great art”. Could have been so much better and for a short book couldn’t wait for it to be over. As I said after a promising start. more


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Therese Thompson
1575 reviews
11 followers
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I could not have found find a better way to begin this month of books than this autobiographical tale of a museum guard in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is a simple and yet a very complex way to move on from the death of a beloved older brother from cancer by taking on the job of museum guard and spending time in the presence of not only art, but people observing art. It becomes a way for this young man to learn about himself and how to learn from and interact with the art, the patrons, his many interesting co-workers, who are on their own journeys. This was behind the scenes in the museum personified and behind the scenes in a person’s heart and mind. So much wisdom and reflection. more


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Kate
281 reviews
3 followers
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I had high expectations and this exceeded them. So much heart. Love love love. more


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