The Metropolitan Museum of Art's multicolored admissions buttons were perhaps always overly nostalgic, evocative of days left behind at one of the world's greatest places, but now the world of art lovers and New Yorks suddenly couldn't be any sadder that they'll be gone after this weekend.
The Met is doing away with the clip-on buttons, so long a signal of hours spent getting cultured, or at least a cool free tourist knick-knack, and is opting to replace them with paper tickets that includee detachable stickers, the New York Times' Michael Silverberg and Randy Kennedy report. The museum's change—which came about because of the cost of the tin pieces—will begin on Monday, as the museum switches over to a seven-day schedule. Of course, New York is always changing, but New Yorkers covet their nostalgia, so they've taken to Twitter to express their disappointment, and you can bet there will be a run on buttons during a rainy Manhattan weekend—and throughout history on eBay. Bon Appétit art director Elizabeth Spiridakis expressed the feeling of loss pretty perfectly for little tin circles that became such collector's items:
my grandma took me to the Met most saturdays of my young life.she had a jillion Met buttons in a huge glass bowl. 😔 http://t.co/WHNRmJSEnK— Elizabeth Spiridakis (@white_lightning) June 28, 2013
of all the iconic things NY has changed/lost in my adult life this one hurts my heart the most— Elizabeth Spiridakis (@white_lightning) June 28, 2013
Even the museum's director, Thomas P. Campbell, felt bad. "I regret it slightly myself," he told The Times. "One of my assistants has a whole rainbow of the colored buttons on her desk."
Indeed, the buttons became living memories, pieces of art in the Met's own collection, and badges signifying taste for tourists and natives alike. But they were also completely ephemeral. Symbols and nothing more. While some frequent Met visitors coveted their badges, others, like this writer, did not think much of them. It was silly to hang onto them, because they would always be there, just like the institution they represented. The buttons were at times frustrating, often falling off whatever item of clothing to which they were affixed. (This writer's most recent button somehow ended up getting flushed down a toilet in the museum.)
Today, though, the nostalgia is overwhelming, and we wouldn't be surprised to find that Met fans flock to the museum this weekend just to grab a button before they're gone or search through their homes to see if they can find a keepsake. Writer Alyssa Harad tweeted: "I should look in the bottoms of all my old purses and see if there are any more. #MetButtons"
But the museum's official reasoning for ditching the buttons makes sense. They are pricier than their paper equivalent, and worse for the environment. So farewell, Met buttons; perhaps you are best worn as a symbol of nostalgia.