Metropolitan Museum of Art
1000 Fifth Ave. at 82nd St.
Daily through May 13, $12-$25 (New York residents pay-what-you-wish)
Thomas Cole’s five-part masterpiece, “The Course of Empire,” serves as a primer, or maybe more of a warning now, of the fall of a major power. It leads viewers down a dark path, beginning with “The Savage State” and continuing with “The Arcadian or Pastoral State,” “The Consummation of Empire,” “Destruction,” and “Desolation.” But the British-born Cole was more than just a chronicler of doom, as displayed in the Met Fifth Avenue exhibit “Thomas Cole’s Journey: Atlantic Crossings,” which closes Sunday. In 1818, the teenage Cole traveled across the ocean, emigrating to America, later venturing back to England and Italy, honing his craft. Cole was an early leader of the Hudson River School with Thomas Doughty and Asher Brown Durand, painting magnificent landscapes in the Catskills and elsewhere. The Met exhibit, which honors the bicentennial of Cole’s arrival in America, includes dozens of his works and related paraphernalia, along with canvases by J. M. W. Turner, Claude Lorrain, John Martin, John Constable, Frederic Edwin Church, Durand, and others.