The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan

Friday, 30 June 2017 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Architecture, Museums, Exhibitions, New York City
Reading Time:  6 minutes

The Cloisters © flickr.com - Brian Clift/cc-by-2.0

The Cloisters © flickr.com – Brian Clift/cc-by-2.0

The Cloisters is a museum in Upper Manhattan, New York City specializing in European medieval architecture, sculpture and decorative arts. Its early collection was built by the American sculptor, art dealer and collector George Grey Barnard, and acquired by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1925. Rockefeller extended the collection and in 1931 purchased land at Washington Heights and contracted the design for a new building that was to become the Cloisters. The museum is today part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has been described as the “crowning achievement of American museology.” Its architectural and artistic works are largely from the Romanesque and Gothic stylistic periods. Its four cloisters; the Cuxa, Bonnefont, Trie and Saint-Guilhem cloisters, were sourced from French monasteries and abbeys. Between 1934 and 1939 they were excavated and reconstructed in Washington Heights, in a large project overseen by the architect Charles Collens. They are surrounded by a series of indoor chapels and rooms grouped by period which include the Romanesque, Fuentidueña, Unicorn, Spanish and Gothic rooms. The design, layout and ambiance of the building is intended to evoke in visitors a sense of the Medieval European monastic life through its distinctive architecture. The area around the buildings contains a number of reconstructed early medieval gardens.

The Cloisters is a well-known New York City landmark and has been used as a filming location. In 1948, the filmmaker Maya Deren used its ramparts as a backdrop for her experimental film Meditation on Violence. In the same year, German director William Dieterle used the Cloisters as the location for a convent school in his film Portrait of Jennie. The 1968 film Coogan’s Bluff used the site for the scene of a shoot-out.

The Cloisters © flickr.com - Brian Clift/cc-by-2.0 St. Guilhem Cloister © Sailko/cc-by-sa-3.0 Trie Cloister © Rlbberlin/cc-by-sa-3.0 Langon Chapel © Chris06/cc-by-sa-4.0 Bonnefort Cloister © Sailko/cc-by-sa-3.0 Cuxa Cloister © Chris06/cc-by-sa-4.0 Fuentidueña Chapel © Sailko/cc-by-sa-3.0
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The Cloisters © flickr.com - Brian Clift/cc-by-2.0
The design for the 66.5-acre (26.9 ha) Fort Tryon Park was commissioned by the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. beginning in 1917, when he purchased the Billings Estate and other properties in the Fort Washington area and hired Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of one of the designers of Central Park, and the Olmsted Brothers firm to create a park, which he donated to New York City in 1935. As part of the project, Rockefeller also purchased the medieval art collection of George Grey Barnard, an American sculptor and collector, who had already established a medieval-art museum near his home in Fort Washington, which he sold to the Metropolitan during one of his frequent financial crises. Barnard’s collection was acquired with a number of pieces from Rockefeller’s own holdings, including the Unicorn Tapestries. These became the foundation and core of the Cloisters collection. The Cloisters and the adjacent 4 acres (1.6 ha) gardens are situated in Fort Tryon Park, and were constructed with grants and endowments from Rockefeller. Construction took place over a five-year period beginning in 1934. He also bought several hundred acres of the New Jersey Palisades, which he later donated to the State of New Jersey, to help preserve the view from the museum. This land is now part of the Palisades Interstate Park. The Cloisters building in Washington Heights was designed by Charles Collens, and incorporated elements from the five cloistered abbeys of Catalan, Occitan and French origins. Parts from Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-sur-Baïse, and Froville were disassembled stone-by-stone and shipped to New York City, where they were reconstructed and integrated into a cohesive whole. In 1988, the Treasury Gallery within the Cloisters, containing objects used for liturgical celebrations, personal devotions, and secular uses, was renovated. Other galleries were refurbished in 1999.

The Cloisters is fortified, as would have been the original churches and abbeys. During times of invasion, well developed and productive gardens would have been essential for survival. Today the gardens of the Cloisters contain a wide variety of mostly rare medieval species, amounting to over 250 genera of plants, flowers, herbs and trees, making it one of the world’s most important collection of specialized gardens. Their design was overseen by during the museums build by James Rorimer, aided by Margaret Freeman, who conducted extensive research into both the keeping of plants and their symbolism in the Middle Ages. Today the gardens are tended by a staff of horticulturalists; the senior members are also historians and researchers on medieval gardening techniques.

Read more on The Met Cloisters, NYCgo.com – The Met Cloisters and Wikipedia The Cloisters (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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