The Cloisters

The Cloisters is a museum in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York City. It contains a large collection of medieval artworks shown in the architectural settings of French monasteries and abbeys. It is the only museum in the United States dedicated to the study of the Romanesque, Fuentidueña, Unicorn, Spanish and Gothic periods.

About The Cloisters in brief

Summary The CloistersThe Cloisters is a museum in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York City. It contains a large collection of medieval artworks shown in the architectural settings of French monasteries and abbeys. Its buildings are centered around four cloisters that were purchased by American sculptor and art dealer George Grey Barnard, dismantled in Europe, and moved to New York. They were acquired for the museum by financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Other major sources of objects were the collections of J. P. Morgan and Joseph Brummer. The museum’s building was designed by the architect Charles Collens, on a site on a steep hill, with upper and lower levels. The design, layout, and ambiance of the building is intended to evoke a sense of medieval European monastic life. It holds about 5,000 works of art and architecture, all European and mostly dating from the Byzantine to the early Renaissance periods. The varied objects include stone and wood sculptures, tapestries, illuminated manuscripts and panel paintings, of which the best known include the c. 1422 Early Netherlandish Mérode Altarpiece and the 1495–1505 Flemish Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry. It was described as a collection “shown informally in a picturesque setting, which stimulates imagination and creates a receptive mood for enjoyment”. Upon its opening on May 10, 1938, the Cloisters was described by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a museum that “stimulate imagination and create a receptive Mood for enjoyment” It is the only museum in the United States dedicated to the study of the Romanesque, Fuentidueña, Unicorn, Spanish and Gothic periods.

It is located on the site of a former French abbey, which was destroyed by the Nazis in the Second World War. The Cloisters are open to the public on weekdays, with guided tours available on the weekends. It has a waiting list of more than 1,000 people, including members of the New York Historical Society, the Metropolitan Art Club, and the Museum of Modern Art, among others. It also has a private members’ club, which offers members access to the museum’s collections and other special events. It opened its doors to the general public in May 1938, and has been open to visitors ever since. Its collection includes more than 4,000 pieces of art from the 12th through 15th centuries, mostly from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, France and the Netherlands. The Museum’s collection includes works by painters, sculptors, architects, and other artists from the 13th and 14th century, as well as the works of 19th-century artists such as Rembrandt, van Rijn, Toulouse-Leroy, and Gustave Courbet. The Met’s acquisition of the Bayard collection in 1931 was the first major acquisition of European medieval art by a U.S. museum.