The Cloisters Playing Cards. South Netherlandish. Made in Burgundian territories. Paper (four layers of pasteboard) with pen and ink, opaque paint, glazes, and applied silver and gold, ca. 1475–80. The Cloisters Collection, 1983 1983.515.1–.52
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Play Time: Leisure Pursuits at The Met

Game on! The Museum's collection abounds with a host of intriguing and artful items made for amusement

Objects associated with games and play—whether solitary or competitive—have a long and complex history. From dice and chess pieces to playing cards and game tables, articles related to fun and games are well represented in the Museum’s vast collection, reminding us of the universality of such seemingly trivial pursuits. Indeed, board games date back to antiquity.

Game Board. Made in Venice, Italy. Bone, wood, horn, stain and gilding over wood core with metal mounts; 15th century. Gift of The Salgo Trust for Education, New York, in memory of Nicolas M. Salgo, 2010   2010.109.4

Since many of us have been spending much more time than usual at home, we’ve been occupied with not just getting through our daily routines, but also with efforts to stay stimulated and entertained. This brief roundup pays homage to the diverse and fascinating world of games.

Hercules – He’s Got Game

Game Piece with Hercules Throwing Diomedes to His Man-Eating Horses. Made in Cologne, Germany. Elephant ivory, ca. 1150. Rogers Fund, 1916   16.106

Senet, Anyone?

Queen Nefertari Playing Senet. Nina de Garis Davies (1881–1965). Original: New Kingdom, Ramesside, Dynasty 19, reign of Ramesses II, ca. 1279–1213 B.C. Tempera on paper, facsimile 16 15/16 in. Rogers Fund, 1930   30.4.145

An Elegant Pastime

Game Table. David Roentgen (German, 1743–1807). German, Neuwied am Rhine. Oak, walnut, mahogany, maple, holly, iron, steel, brass, gilt bronze, felt, tooled and gilded leather; ca. 1780–83. Pfeiffer Fund, 2007   2007.42.1a–e, .2a–o, aa–nn

Men at Play

The Billiard Room. Nicolas Antoine Taunay (French, 1755–1830). Oil on wood, 6 3/8 x 8 5/8 in., after 1810. The Jack and Belle Linsky Collection, 1982   1982.60.49

I Know You’re Bluffing

The Card Players. Paul Cézanne (French, 1839–1906). Oil on canvas, 25 3/4 x 32 1/4 in., 1890–92. Bequest of Stephen C. Clark, 1960   61.101.1

Roll of the Dice

Dice. Excavated in Iran, Nishapur. Ivory or bone; incised and inlaid with paint; 9th–10th century. Rogers Fund, 1938   38.40.93

Chairmen of the Board

Tric Trac Players. Adriaen van Ostade (Dutch, 1610–1685). Etching, 3 1/4 × 2 13/16 in., 1610–85. The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1951   51.501.493

In addition to our exciting new Monopoly: The Met Edition board game, The Met Store offers a selection of art-inspired puzzles designed for various age groups, as well as art-bedecked playing cards.

Of special note is our luxurious new silk scarf, which evokes a rare 16th-century German board for a game called “tric trac,” a precursor to backgammon (being played in the delightful Dutch print above).

Discover these and other related items by shopping here.

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