Sunday, July 3, 2016
Medieval Europe in New York
Many years ago, I met some Chicago friends in New York for a three-day weekend get-away. We had the normal New York City plans, a couple of Broadway play, a few museums and lots of fine dining. One thing we did on the spur of the moment was take a trip out to The Cloisters, the wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Arts that specializes in the art and architecture of Medieval Europe.
The Cloisters is located north of Manhattan in Fort Tryon Park and sits overlooking the Hudson River. Getting to location is a bit of a challenge for most tourists so the place isn't visited as much as the Met is on a daily basis. If you take public transportation, it involves subways, buses and lots of walking. We opted to take a taxi since there were four of us to split the cost. That worked very well on the trip out but we did have to wait quite awhile to get a taxi back into Manhattan.
Even with all the transportation obstacles, the trip was well worth it. The place is quiet, peaceful and stunningly beautiful. The building was designed by Charles Collens and it is an amalgamation of parts of five cloistered abbeys in Europe. The parts were dismantled stone by stone and shipped to New York where they were reconstructed to form one cohesive building.
The rooms are full of paintings, sculptures and tapestries most of which were once the collection of American sculptor, art dealer and collector George Grey Barnard.
Barnard's works were acquired by John D Rockefeller, Jr. in 1925. He also purchased the land that is now Fort Tryon Park and commissioned the construction of the building and the landscaping of the site.
It is now part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
To me, the true beauty of the place is in it's architecture and landscape as well as the peacefulness of the surroundings. There is a very special meditative quality to the surroundings that makes you feel like you are having a rare visit to a real cloistered abbey for the day.
I'd very much love to visit here again. The place is a photographer's paradise and since the last time I visited was before digital photography, these scanned photos do not do it justice. Maybe I'll visit again the next time I find myself in New York. I bet the hotel could arrange a driver for the trip there and back.