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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.

Digital Underground

From New York to Castile

Jessica Glass, Audio-Visual Specialist, Digital Media

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014

The 2013 production The Fuentidueña Apse: A Journey from Castile to New York was screened in Spain on November 27 as part of FICAB XIII, the 13th International Film Festival of the Bidasoa. The documentary explains how the twelfth-century Romanesque apse was dismantled in 1957 from the church of San Martín in Fuentidueña, north of Madrid, transported to New York, and installed at The Cloisters between 1958 and 1961. Christopher Noey directed and produced this 28-minute documentary and I was its editor; many people within Digital Media and across the Museum contributed to the project.

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Now at the Met

A Neighborhood of Castles in the Sky:
Washington Heights before The Cloisters

Danielle Oteri, Lecturer, The Cloisters museum and gardens; Program Director, International Center of Medieval Art; Curator, Feast on History

Posted: Friday, November 15, 2013

Washington Heights—the neighborhood in northern Manhattan that houses The Cloisters museum and gardens—is built upon a series of bluffs and cliffs. Concrete staircases and creaky subway elevators connect different sections of the neighborhood, and buildings stand tall on stilts driven deep into Manhattan schist. From a distance, blocks of apartment buildings appear like castellated European villages. However, despite its once-impenetrable terrain, or maybe because of it, Washington Heights is a place where some of the wildest and most romantic medieval-architecture fantasies in New York City have been realized for over 150 years.

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Now at the Met

Experiencing The Forty Part Motet

Andrew Winslow, Senior Departmental Technician, The Cloisters museum and gardens

Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Janet Cardiff's The Forty Part Motet, currently on view through December 8, boasts the distinction of being the first exhibition of contemporary art in the seventy-five-year history of The Cloisters museum and gardens. A sound installation consisting of forty speakers mounted on tall stands and arranged in a large oval, Cardiff's work seems to have found its ideal home in the Fuentidueña Chapel—dominated by the monumental twelfth-century apse brought to The Cloisters from the church of San Martín in Fuentidueña, Spain.

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Teen Blog

Our Untitled 3D Sculpture

Sumura, TAG Member; and Matthew, Teen Program Participant

Posted: Monday, September 30, 2013

Before beginning the design process for our 3D sculpture, we were both inspired by three different sculptures currently on view at the Met: Lectern for the Reading of the Gospels with the Eagle of Saint John the Evangelist in the Medieval Sculpture Hall; Statue of the Goddess Sakhmet from the Egyptian Art collection; and Mourning Victory from the Melvin Memorial in the Charles Engelhard Court of The American Wing. With all of the artwork the Museum has to offer, it definitely seemed like choosing a subject to work with would be the most challenging part—but then the printing process began.

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Now at the Met

Syrian Art at the Met

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO

Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The situation in Syria is both grave and deeply troubling. In the midst of such striking human suffering, all other concerns can easily get lost in the shadows. But we must believe that there will be a time when peace returns to Syria, and when that moment arrives, it would be tragic to find that most of the country's heritage had been lost.

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Now at the Met

Medieval Drama at The Cloisters

Nancy Wu, Museum Educator, The Cloisters museum and gardens

Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013

Although theatrical plays had been presented at the original Cloisters museum at 699 Fort Washington Avenue until its closing in February 1936, it was not until the performance of The Miracle of Theophilus at The Cloisters' current home in January 1942 that a medieval drama was produced for the first time. Envisioned and organized by the curatorial staff, with a text translated from the original French into English by Curator James Rorimer—later director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art—and costumes designed by Associate Curator Margaret Freeman, the thirteenth-century play was enjoyed by a group of Museum members on the Feast of the Epiphany. Thus began a tradition of medieval theatrical performances at The Cloisters.

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Now at the Met

"Round Table Capers": Medieval Festivals in the 1950s

Emma Wegner, Assistant Museum Educator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013

From 1951 to 1957, The Cloisters hosted annual festivals for children of Members. Each of the seven festivals—held in the courtyard and given vibrantly titled themes such as "Round Table Capers" (1954) and "When Knights were Bold" (1955)—was an extravagant affair organized by the staff of the Met's Junior Museum, the precursor to what is now the Education Department. Children enjoyed puppet shows, games, donkey rides, and even trained bears.

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The Cloisters in Popular Culture:
"Time in This Place Does Not Obey an Order"

Michael Carter, Librarian, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013

For the past seventy-five years, The Cloisters has provided visitors with more than just a chance to view an exceptional collection of medieval art and architecture. In tourist guides and travel reviews, a trip to The Cloisters is commonly described as a way to be transported to the Middle Ages or—for locals seeking a "staycation"—a chance to get out of New York without leaving the city. The powerful effect of the place has clearly been noticed by screenwriters, novelists, and even comicbook authors, who have set a fair number of fictional works here over the years.

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Now at the Met

Renovating The Cloisters: Maintaining the Vision

Peter Barnet, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013

"Creating the Cloisters," the spring issue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin written by curator Timothy B. Husband, is an engaging and nuanced narrative of the early history of The Cloisters. As a complement to that narrative, I'd like to review the more recent gallery renovations and reinstallations that have been undertaken, all guided by the principle of maintaining the integrity of the original architectural vision of The Cloisters.

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Now at the Met

Celebrating The Cloisters

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013

The Cloisters marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. Since its opening on May 14, 1938, it has become a treasured landmark, celebrated for both its extraordinary setting and its world-class collection of medieval art and architecture. Located in Fort Tryon Park, a verdant oasis on the northern tip of Manhattan, the building commands sweeping views of the Hudson River and the towering Palisades on the river's opposite bank. The quiet of the lush gardens and the magnificence of the historic architecture create an ideal setting for the outstanding collection within.

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