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.
Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Every time I walk through gallery 457 I am arrested by a big vitrine displaying a rich range of medieval ivory objects produced around the shores of the Mediterranean. This collection of ivories holds secret stories of transformation, from secular to sacred, ending ultimately in their place as objects of desire for collectors. Rare and durable, elephant ivory was valued as one of the most precious materials in medieval times, and a wide range of artifacts were created by skillful craftsmen throughout the Mediterranean. The main patrons were powerful rulers such as Muslim caliphs, Latin or Byzantine emperors, and high-ranking ecclesiastics and noblemen, who took advantage of the ivory supply being imported from Africa.
Posted: Tuesday, August 18, 2015
The corn poppy (Papaver rhoeas) is described as an annual weed that thrives on wastelands, roadsides, and neglected fields, and it is most famously associated with battlefields. As a denizen of disturbed lands, the poppy was one of the first and most striking colonizers of a trampled and scarred landscape. Its luminescent red flowers symbolize the blood of the fallen and serve as a reminder of the beauty of life amidst the devastation of war. Dubbed Flanders, or remembrance, poppy, the corn poppy is a symbol of the First World War in contemporary culture.
Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2015
Earlier this season, the gardens department here at the The Cloisters museum and gardens decided to freshen up and expand our cultivated hops (Humulus lupulus). In last week's post, I explained the precedent for vertical trellises in late medieval and early modern horticulture and how we used this to construct a vertical trellis for the hops in the Bonnefont Herb Garden. Today I'll outline the creation of a new bed outside the museum's walls for several young hops plants started in the greenhouse and the construction of a structure for the plants to climb.
Posted: Friday, August 7, 2015
Earlier this season, we decided to freshen up and expand the cultivated hops (Humulus lupulus) at The Cloisters museum and gardens. Managing Horticulturist Caleb Leech, Gardener Yvette Weaver, and I sought to construct a new structure on which to train the hops in the Bonnefont Herb Garden to grow, and to install a new bed in the grounds outside the Museum's walls for additional hops cultivation. We will share the process for accomplishing both projects over two blog posts. Today I will discuss how the gardens department went about constructing the new hops trellis in the Bonnefont Herb Garden, and the story of the new hops bed will be explained in a later post.
Posted: Monday, August 3, 2015
The exhibition Liturgical Textiles of the Post-Byzantine World, now on view through November 1, 2015, presents a selection of notable liturgical vestments that communicate the continuing prestige of the Orthodox Church and its clergy in the centuries following the fifteenth-century fall of Byzantine Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. From a strictly theological viewpoint, vestments are hardly a necessity for Christian worship. Liturgical scholars are largely in agreement that for the first several centuries of Christianity's existence, its clergy officiated at services wearing the normal "street dress" of the Roman world. Only gradually did these items of clothing take on special significance as liturgical vestments, to be worn only during worship.
Posted: Friday, July 31, 2015
In 2014, over two hundred thousand enthusiasts walked at least part of the road to the shrine of Saint James in northern Spain, and more than two-and-a-half million visited the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. My more energetic colleagues at The Cloisters lead organized trips to Santiago on behalf of the Museum, and the Met produced Journey to Saint James: A Pilgrim's Guide (1993), a film about the pilgrimage, in the 1990s.
Posted: Friday, July 24, 2015
As part of his recent internship in the MediaLab, college student Kevin Yoo created Medieval Treasures and Chocolate Pleasures, an original, technology-driven project inspired by the Met's collection in which he 3D-printed medieval rosary beads in sugar and gypsum.
Posted: Monday, July 20, 2015
As a recent college graduate and current summer intern in the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Islamic Art, the past weeks have flown by, filled with new and exciting experiences, projects, and opportunities. Among these, I have been fortunate enough to observe some of the curation and the full installation of the exhibition Pattern, Color, Light: Architectural Ornament in the Near East (500–1000), now on view through October 25 in The Hagop Kevorkian Fund Special Exhibitions Gallery (gallery 458). This exhibition highlights architectural ornament from Near Eastern monuments, which exist today in fragmented form from numerous walls, ceilings, and floors. These fragments and their stylistic motifs crossed rival empires and illuminate common aesthetic trends of the period from 500 to 1000 A.D. The Department of Islamic Art started working on this exhibition about nine months ago, but by witnessing the final step of the process—the installation—I have a new appreciation and understanding of what it takes to coordinate a production such as this.
Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2015
For those of you who are celebrating birthdays this month, we are featuring two especially fascinating rings from the Griffin Collection. Both incorporate rubies, which is the birthstone for July, and hidden chambers, but more on that later. First, let's consider the ruby.
Posted: Thursday, July 9, 2015
Video of flies swarming around the dragon arum at The Cloisters. Videos by Andrew Winslow
The Dracunculus vulgaris, or dragon arum, is a favorite plant at The Cloisters. It is fly-pollinated and produces the smell of rotting meat in order to draw the insects to it. We had hoped that our dragon arum would bloom over the Garden Days weekend, but it kept us waiting for a few extra days.