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Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Medieval Art

The Museum's collection of medieval and Byzantine art is among the most comprehensive in the world. Displayed in both the Main Building and in the Metropolitan's branch in northern Manhattan, The Cloisters museum and gardens, the collection encompasses the art of the Mediterranean and Europe from the fall of Rome in the fourth century to the beginning of the Renaissance in the early sixteenth century. It also includes pre-medieval European works of art created during the Bronze Age and early Iron Age.

In Season

Holly Bears the Crown

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2014

The gardens are abuzz with activity as autumn settles upon us, and sporadic blazes of fall color across the Hudson River herald the season. To some, the onset of cooler temperatures is cause for despair. Others welcome the respite from hot summer days. What many of us share in common, though, is a renewed awareness of the natural world. It is a poignant time.

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Digital Underground

New and Familiar Pilgrimages: Viewing The Cloisters with Google Glass

Neal Stimler, Digital Asset Specialist, Digital Media

Posted: Monday, October 13, 2014

This past May, I made a familiar pilgrimage to The Cloisters, the northern Manhattan branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Fort Tryon Park. The Cloisters are a unique treasure of the museum world, featuring beautiful gardens, a stunning collection of medieval art, and majestic spaces. The purpose of my journey was to spend the day with Museum staff testing Google Glass. The camera within Google Glass would be the focus of our exploration on this memorable day, helping my colleagues and I to see the space in new ways.

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In Season

The Horticultural Roots of Joseph Breck

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014

Recent posts by Michael Carter and a special seventy-fifth anniversary Bulletin by Timothy B. Husband introduced readers to a pivotal yet seldom-recognized figure in the formative years of The Cloisters museum and gardens—Joseph Henry Breck (1885–1933). The basic layout of the galleries and gardens of The Cloisters is primarily due to Breck's close collaboration with the architect Charles Collens, and their final plans provide coherence when the museum and gardens are seen as a whole. Sadly, Breck died suddenly in 1933 and never saw his plans realized. In addition to his formidable talents as an art historian, Breck was also a skilled artist, contributing many illustrations to the Harvard Lampoon during his undergraduate years. His watercolors and pencil sketches serve as visual evidence of his inspirations and thought processes while planning The Cloisters. While Breck's curatorial training and career are well documented, his interest in gardens is not.

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Teen Blog

One in Over Two Million

Kendra, Former Graduate Intern, Education Department

Posted: Friday, October 3, 2014

From the more than two million works in the Met's permanent collection, one tiny object has held me captive ever since I first laid eyes on it. I started my graduate internship in the Education Department in late January of this year, and as I made my way through the Museum throughout my internship—selecting artworks for programs and supporting events, ambling from the mailroom to the Petrie Court, and exploring the galleries of African, Asian, and medieval art—the Crib of the Infant Jesus always managed to stop me in my tracks, demanding at least a few good minutes of contemplation each time.

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In Season

Rye Gone Awry

Tim Husband, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2014

Caleb Leech, managing horticulturalist at The Cloisters museum and gardens, recently wrote a post for In Season entitled "Successful Secale," in which he discussed the use of rye (Secale cereale) in the Middle Ages. Rye was considered humble and undesirable during Roman and early medieval times, but because it thrived in poor soil and harsh conditions, it became widespread throughout Europe and was considered the basis of an excellent bread by the fourteenth century. Its widespread use, however, brought darker consequences—which will be shown in highlighting another object from The Cloisters Collection.

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In Season

The Garden in Heraldry: A Badge of Garlic, Please

R. Theo Margelony, Associate Administrator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2014

All sorts of plants have come to be cultivated on the heraldic shield. Roses grow there abundantly, as do lilies, which are usually depicted in the graceful and stylized guise of the fleur-de-lis. Prickly thistles appear, warning the beholder not to touch, and fields of wheat grow bountifully, suggesting the wealth of land and the richness of harvests.

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In Season

The Death of Joseph Breck and the Formation of The Cloisters Library

Michael Carter, Librarian, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, September 11, 2014

When, in 1925, the Metropolitan Museum purchased the building and collection amassed by George Grey Barnard that he had named "The Cloisters," its stewardship was given to Joseph Breck, then chief curator of the Decorative Arts Department. As the first director of The Cloisters museum and gardens, he oversaw a new installation of the collection, the electrification of the galleries, and the laying of garden spaces. But his greatest charge was coordinating the design of an entirely new building, funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in what is now Fort Tryon Park.

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In Season

The Cloisters, Fort Tryon Park, and the Palisades

C. Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, September 5, 2014

On my walks to and from work, I have often noted how people from the neighborhoods surrounding The Cloisters museum and gardens gather in the evenings in Fort Tryon Park to watch the sun as it dips below the Palisades to the west. People jogging, pushing strollers, walking dogs, sitting on benches, or lounging on blankets in the grass are all drawn to the sweeping vistas over the Hudson River. This view, long protected from large-scale development, is now under threat. LG, the Korean electronics company, is in the process of creating a corporate headquarters directly across the river from The Cloisters. In this post, I am not only hoping to build greater awareness of this project but am asking people to get involved in convincing LG to revise its plans, which would alter these majestic views for future generations. While this is an issue that we care deeply about at the museum, it also has broader implications for all who come to this corner of Manhattan seeking temporary relief from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

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In Season

Busy Bees at The Cloisters

Carly Still, Assistant Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014

"The honey bee (apis) is from the heat of the sun. It loves the summer, has a swift heat, and is unable to endure cold…" —Hildegard von Bingen

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In Season

Laser Cleaning for Stone Conservation at The Cloisters

Emeline Baude, Assistant Conservator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014

To clean or not to clean? That is the question.

The decision whether to clean a work of art is a difficult one for art conservators, as doing so is an irreversible action. Art that has withstood the vicissitudes of time comes to us with surfaces that show their age. While superficial layers may appear dirty, cleaning them sometimes removes information that is relevant to the history of the object. Thus, prior to making any treatment decision, conservators thoroughly study and analyze all aspects of a work of art.

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