Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Cloisters

One of the lesser known museums in New York City can be found within the Hudson Heights' section of Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan. Known as The Cloisters, it is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and only holds medieval European works, which mostly belonged to American sculptor George Grey Barnard.
The original collection was purchased by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., soon after he commissioned the planning of Ft. Tryon Park in 1917, though construction of the museum did not start until 1934.

Overseen by architect Charles Collens, parts of five French abbeys (Sant Miquel de Cuixà, Sant Guilhèm dau Desèrt, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigòrra, and Froville) were transported - brick by brick - and reconstructed to make up most of the museum, from 1934 to 1939.

By the time the museum was finished, Rockefeller donated the land to the city of New York, as well as a large portion of his medieval art in addition to the Barnard acquisitions, including the famous "Hunt of the Unicorn" tapestry of 1495.
While the five French abbeys (listed above) consist much of the architecture of The Cloisters, there are also a number of chapels within the building, such as the Gothic chapel of the church of Saint Leonhard (from Austria, Spain - dated 1340)... the Fuentidueña Apse (dated 1175), which was part of the San Martín church at Castile-León, Spain.

Besides the architecture, there are about five thousand works of art (from the 12th to 15th Centuries) to be found throughout the museum - including statues...

...stained glass, manuscripts, tapestries, paintings, religious items...

...and a number of tomb effigies.

The museum also has a library, which is only one of Metropolitan Museum's thirteen, and it holds 15,000 books, as well as the original museum glass lantern slides, dealer and scholars records, and plenty of old maps,
Though closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day, The Cloisters is open daily, 10am until almost 5pm, and there is only a suggested donation, but do be generous.