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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

Regal Rheums

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, May 28, 2015

For those who appreciate its tart flavor, rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a quintessential early summer treat. Stewed with strawberries, infused in summer spritzers, or preserved in jams and chutneys, this vegetable is one of the "fruits" of the season.

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In Season

Transforming the Glass Gallery—Treasures and Talismans: Rings from the Griffin Collection

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

Posted: Monday, May 18, 2015

Spring has finally arrived in New York, and the gardens of The Cloisters are filling out quickly, announcing their return with tender shoots and splashes of color. Inside the museum, we have opened the new exhibition Treasures and Talismans: Rings from the Griffin Collection, now on view in the Glass Gallery. This exhibition showcases a group of exceptional rings assembled by a private collector alongside works of art drawn from the holdings of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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In Season

Welcoming the Growing Mandrake

Yvette Weaver, Gardener, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, April 23, 2015

Last summer, in mid-July, I was handed the once-fragrant fruit of our mandrake (Mandragora officinarum), and it was bursting with seeds that were ready to be sown. This was my opportunity to propagate the legendary plant depicted in Pan's Labyrinth and Harry Potter.

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In Season

Tales and a Tune of the Willow

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2015

Within the past few weeks the grip of a long winter has loosened, and we have turned our attention toward our trees. Recent visitors might have noticed that our consulting arborist was hard at work pollarding the crab apples in the Cuxa Cloister. She'll have moved on to the trees in the orchard and our beloved veteran fruit trees in the Bonnefont Herb Garden by the time this post is published. We'll also be undertaking the first coppicing of our willows, a topic introduced in my previous post.

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In Season

A Blanket of Gold

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, April 9, 2015

The winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) has just revealed its cheerful, yellow blooms. Most years, winter aconite is one of the earliest winter-blooming bulbs, appearing in January and February, but this year's cold temperatures have delayed its arrival.

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In Season

Here I Sette My Thynge to Sprynge

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, March 13, 2015

Although the vernal equinox is mere days away, this week is our first taste of spring. For most people, the start of spring is a celebrated event that signals longer days and warmer temperatures. In medieval Europe, spring was considered a highly auspicious time; in many parts of Western Europe, it marked the beginning of a new year and included one of the most important occasions, the Feast of the Annunciation (see "Lady Day" [March 25, 2011] on The Medieval Garden Enclosed).

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Reflecting on the Winchester Bible

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, March 6, 2015

In the course of the last three months, we have had the privilege of exhibiting the Winchester Bible—one of the masterpieces of medieval painting—and seeing it reunited with the Morgan Leaf, one of most spectacular paintings from the year 1200 and originally part of the Bible. Because of the possibility of displaying multiple openings of volume one of the Bible and three bi-folios of volume two—currently in the midst of conservation treatment and rebinding—one was able to compare and contrast the multiple artists who created this special work.

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In Season

A Treasury for The Cloisters

Christine E. Brennan, Senior Research Associate, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, March 5, 2015

Today, visitors to The Cloisters museum and gardens marvel at precious works of gold, silver, and ivory in the Treasury. But this richly furnished gallery was not part of the original design of The Cloisters. It owes its inception to two individuals: Museum Curator James Rorimer and the art dealer Joseph Brummer (both pictured above).

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In Circulation

A Scholar's Passion: The William H. Forsyth Papers at The Cloisters

Michael Carter, Librarian, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Cloisters Library and Archives is pleased to announce that it has completed processing the papers of one of the Museum's founding figures, curator William H. Forsyth (1907–2003). The finding aid can be found on the Digital Collections site.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

The Winchester Bible and Europe

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The team of artists producing the Winchester Bible, on view through March 8, were among the most original and inventive in Europe before 1200. The display of the Bible within the Museum's collection of contemporary medieval works enhances the picture of the larger setting and warrants a closer look. The connection between the Winchester Bible and Spain, explored in an earlier blog post, is one of the more fascinating instances of artistic migration. Let's explore three others that look to Burgundy in France, the Meuse Valley in Belgium, and Sicily.

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In Season

Whence Willow Wattle?

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, February 19, 2015

An attractive feature of the Bonnefont Herb Garden in winter and early spring is the distinctive wattle used in the raised beds. Medieval gardens, orchards, and property boundaries were enclosed in a variety of ways, including by hedges and wattle fences. In the Bonnefont Herb Garden, our wattle, or hurdles (pictured above), of various heights edge the beds and support the plants. The hurdles and supports are made from willow from the Somerset Levels (wetlands) in England; willow has been grown and woven in Somerset since the late Iron Age. Willow work is still commercially produced in the region and the same family has made our wattle elements for many years.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

The Entire Bible in a Single Letter: The Genesis Initial

Julia Perratore, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Each book of the Winchester Bible, on view through March 8, begins with an oversized, decorated first letter called an initial. The initials' decorations vary from fancy foliate designs to narrative scenes framed within the letter itself. The initial prefacing the Winchester Bible's book of Genesis is especially complex in its composition because it serves an extraordinary purpose: to encompass the entire Bible—and with it the entire history of salvation—in a single composition. This ambitious endeavor presents a way of thinking about the Bible that would have been second nature to its original readers, a community of Benedictine monks.

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In Season

Snowy Days at The Cloisters

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

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2015

After trudging to work through Fort Tryon Park in the morning after a heavy snowfall, the first thing I do is grab my camera and head straight to some of my favorite spots in The Cloisters museum and gardens. First, up to the top of the tower to look out over the park, the river, and the George Washington Bridge.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

The Morgan Leaf and the Winchester Bible

William M. Voelkle, Senior Research Curator at the Morgan Library and Museum

Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Morgan Leaf (pictured above) was the last and greatest single leaf acquired by financier John Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913). (Morgan's collection later became the Morgan Library and Museum.) The twelfth-century Winchester Bible, the largest and finest English Romanesque Bible, on view at the Met through March 8, was begun in around 1160, but was never finished. Although full-page miniatures were not originally planned for the Bible, drawings for four of them were made. Only two were finished: those on the Morgan Leaf.

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In Season

A Tale of Two Collections: The Cloisters and Glencairn Museums

Julia Perratore, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Cloisters museum and gardens has many devotees, but I wonder how many of its visitors know about the Glencairn Museum, located in Bryn Athyn, just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Glencairn, like The Cloisters, is home to an excellent collection of medieval art on view in a building inspired by medieval architecture. As a current Met fellow and former Glencairn fellow, I have had ample opportunity to study the histories of these two marvelous collections, both of which took shape during the early twentieth century. Together they constitute an important chapter in the story of collecting medieval art in the United States, and I am continually impressed by the close relationship between them.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

The Spanish Connection: The Winchester Bible and Spain

Julia Perratore, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, February 3, 2015

It is a common misconception that people living during the Middle Ages rarely traveled. In fact, many did—to go on a pilgrimage, to trade commercial goods, or to forge political ties in far-off lands. Artists also traveled, taking their own styles, techniques, and ideas with them. Yet, because so little information about medieval artists has survived, especially from the earlier Middle Ages, we know little about their itineraries from when they did venture out into the world. The Met's exhibition of the Winchester Bible, however, allows me to highlight one fascinating instance in which we actually can track the movement of a specific workshop of painters from Winchester in southern England to a monastery in Aragon, northern Spain. That's quite a distance to cover!

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In Season

A Winter Walk through Fort Tryon Park

Jonathan Landsman, Landscape Coordinator, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Posted: Friday, January 30, 2015

"How do you get to The Cloisters?" For me and the two full-time gardeners charged with the care of Fort Tryon Park's sixty-seven acres of forest and two historic gardens, this is the question we are asked the most. Our answer changes from season to season: the paths don't move, but the flowers do, and we always guide visitors through the most beautiful experience the season offers.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Conservation Concerns: The Care of Medieval Manuscripts

Yana van Dyke, Conservator, Department of Paper Conservation

Posted: Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The most common conservation issue related to the care and preservation of medieval manuscripts—such as the pages from the Winchester Bible, on view in the exhibition The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art through March 8—is the loss of cohesion in the paint layer. Most often, flaking paint is due to the dehydration of the binding vehicle used in the original mixing of the paint.

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In Season

Dyeing for Color

Carly Still, Assistant Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, January 22, 2015

In the midst of ice and wind, I retreat to the warmth of the indoors at The Cloisters museum and gardens. I long for growth, and daydream about the upcoming spring. And I write about color now to invigorate myself against a possible winter slump.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

The Making of the Winchester Bible

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2015

One of the most ambitious artistic enterprises of twelfth-century England, the Winchester Bible offers a critical glimpse into the process of its creation, in part, because it was left unfinished.

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In Season

New Glasses for the Table

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

Posted: Friday, January 16, 2015

The Cloisters museum and gardens came relatively late to the collection of late medieval glass vessels. The reasons are twofold: first, because very few of these objects have survived—they were everyday household objects, and fragile ones at that—and second, because collectors and scholars were slow to appreciate the elegant simplicity and skillful fabrication of these modest, utilitarian objects. The first glass vessel entered The Cloisters Collection in 1977 and, like all those to follow, was a product of the German-speaking world of central Europe, a vast region that supported an extensive glass-making industry. The three recent acquisitions discussed here significantly enhance the collection's holdings of these appealing tablewares.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Motion and Emotion: Master of the Leaping Figures

Julia Perratore, Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Old Testament book of Jeremiah begins with a frightened cry. Overwhelmed that God has chosen him as a mouthpiece, the young Jeremiah protests, "Ah, ah, ah." These three repeated syllables, simple and unassuming on the page, express the future prophet's trepidation—which is almost panic—toward the enormous task ahead of him. Taking his cue from this utterance of fear, one of the main artists responsible for the illuminations of the Winchester Bible chose to preface the book of Jeremiah with an image of this dramatic moment, eloquently capturing all of Jeremiah's instability and anxiety. His portrayal is one of the most affecting in the Winchester Bible, and its inclusion in the Met's exhibition offers a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the medieval depiction of emotion through the eyes of one particularly imaginative artist.

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In Season

Cryptogams in the Nooks and Crannies

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, January 9, 2015

The details that artists choose to embellish in their works offer a small glimpse into what they value. Such is the case with the Gerard David (ca. 1455–1523) painting The Nativity with Donors and Saints Jerome and Leonard, shown above. I examined this Nativity scene in the course of my research on the important plant stuffs associated with the medieval Christmastide feast. In this case, the sheaf of wheat as a symbol of the Eucharist was the object of my attention, but what piqued my curiosity was the variety of flora illustrated in the cracks of the walls.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Heroes of the Old Testament: Picturing the Story of David and Goliath

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

Posted: Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art offers an unprecedented opportunity to examine one of the great surviving monuments of twelfth-century art. Presented together with the Morgan Leaf, which is reunited for the first time with the book to which it once belonged, the exhibition occupies the heart of the Museum's medieval European galleries. This setting offers an ideal context for exploring the Winchester Bible.

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In Season

Scenes of the Season

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, January 2, 2015

The Belles Heures of Jean de France, duc de Berry, is an extraordinary illuminated manuscript and one of the great treasures of The Cloisters Collection. It is also relevant to the holiday season, as a few of its astonishingly beautiful illuminations depict scenes from the Christmas story.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Who Ordered the Winchester Bible?

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Deluxe giant Bibles were prestige works for major ecclesiastical institutions, but there is no record, written or otherwise, that clearly identifies the patron of the Winchester Bible. We assume that the bishop of Winchester, Henry of Blois (about 1098–1171) patronized its creation since he was of privileged background and the younger brother of King Stephen of England (r. 1135–54) and grandson of William the Conqueror. As a child oblate dedicated to become a monk at the great Burgundian abbey of Cluny, he quickly rose in the ranks of the Church to become abbot of Glastonbury in 1126, the richest abbey in Norman England, and in 1129 the bishop of Winchester, the richest cathedral in the land.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

What Is a Giant Bible?

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Giant Bibles such as the Winchester Bible, the subject of the current exhibition at the Metropolitan, were among the most ambitious enterprises for major medieval scriptoria. They are massive volumes containing the Holy Scriptures as they were translated into Latin by Saint Jerome (ca. 342–60), and the great age of their creation was the later eleventh and twelfth centuries. Giant Bibles probably started out as prestigious papal gifts—several were produced in Rome itself—but they quickly became more widespread.

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In Season

Among the Leaves So Green

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Cloisters museum and gardens will be decorated for the holidays through January 6. Today's post is intended to provide historical context for the designs, explain how the decorations are made, and to entice readers to visit and see them in person.

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Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Winchester as an Artistic Center

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Winchester Bible has resided in the place of its making since the Middle Ages, and has left for only brief periods of time for such occasions as its current exhibition at the Metropolitan. It is the centerpiece of the holdings of the Winchester Cathedral Library. Marking the high point of manuscript production at Winchester, the great Bible was the culmination of a long tradition of creating sumptuous manuscripts central to the spiritual life of the cathedral and its affiliated monastic communities. Before larger European cities became the driving force for artistic production, places like Winchester—which was both the royal seat of power and a spiritual and pilgrimage center—fostered the creation of amazing works for many years.

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In Season

A Cloisters Cartoon

Mortimer Lebigre, Graphic Designer, Design Department

Posted: Thursday, December 11, 2014

Winchester Bible Exhibition Blog

Welcome to The Winchester Bible

Charles T. Little, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Welcome to the exhibition blog for The Winchester Bible: A Masterpiece of Medieval Art, opening today. Throughout the run of the exhibition, curators, conservators, and outside scholars will explore a variety of topics related to the display of this magnificent work and will attempt to present a fuller picture of its visual and thematic richness, artistic issues, and historical context. Some of the planned topics include giant Bibles as an art form, the patronage and production of the Winchester Bible, individual masters who worked on the book, and issues of conservation. We hope, through these weekly posts, to develop a fuller understanding of this important Bible, raise new questions, and inspire conversation.

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In Season

Cobill Nuts, Christmastide, and The Cloisters

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmastide, the medieval celebration of Christmas, provides us with the opportunity to decorate The Cloisters with traditional materials to celebrate the season. As regular visitors and readers know, the decorative designs and elements are based on medieval evidence and are fabricated almost entirely from fresh seasonal materials. Among them is the familiar hazelnut.

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In Season

The Portal of Villeloin-Coulangé at The Cloisters: Attribution After Eighty Years of Anonymity

Lucretia Kargère, Conservator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens; and Nancy Wu, Museum Educator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2014

Every curator, at one point or another, has to grapple with questions of provenance. In the case of medieval stone sculpture, works often come to us in fragmentary states, roughly removed from their original sites during revolutionary events, or cautiously salvaged from monuments that have not been cared for over time. Conservators, scientists, and art historians often collaborate to solve questions of geographic origin and attribution.

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Teen Blog

What's Your Flavor?

Alexandra, Former High School Intern

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2014

Art is like ice cream. (A weird analogy, but bear with me.) Every ice cream lover has a preference; some like chocolate, others vanilla. The same holds true of art. Some like Impressionist painting, others prefer medieval armor.

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In Season

On Voyages and Vessels

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2014

But if you let the gourd stay
Enjoying the summer sun on its parent tree and only
set your blade to it late in the year, then after scooping
the flesh from its ponderous belly and shaving the sides
on a nimble lathe, you can put it to practical use as a vessel.
A pint this mighty paunch will sometimes hold, sometimes half a gallon or more; and if you seal your jar with gummy pitch it will keep wine good for many a day.

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In Season

The Curious Tale of the "Vegetable Lamb"

Carly Still, Assistant Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, November 7, 2014

Levant cotton (Gossypium herbaceum) is a beautiful plant. I was quickly charmed by its flawless, creamy white flowers, which bloom in our Medieval Artists and Craftsmen bed through the summer months. This economically important fiber plant belongs to the Mallow family (Malvaceae), and is a relative of some of my garden favorites, like the hollyhock (Alcea rosea) and common mallow (Malva sylvestris), both of which are medieval and grown in the medicinal bed.

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In Season

In Anticipation of "Soft-Dying" Days

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014

I have borrowed an evocative description of the season from the great English Romantic poet John Keats. His "Ode to Autumn" (see below) was written in September 1819 and published the following year, and it serves as an elegy to his career as a poet. Keats's personification of autumn reveals the progression from the ripening of summer fruit to the fall harvest, the fading of spring birdsong to the bleating of mature lambs.

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In Season

A Swim to The Cloisters

Carrie Rebora Barratt, Deputy Director for Collections and Administration

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saturday, September 20, was a bright, sunny day, a perfect day for a late-summer swim. While many New Yorkers enjoyed the beaches and lakes that afternoon, an intrepid—some would say crazy—group of about 250 swimmers took their dip in the Hudson River, sliding in off the kayak pontoon at Pier 96, at 56th Street.

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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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In Season

Recent Acquisition: Reverse-Painted Dish with Abraham and Melchizedek

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

Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014

Once every month or so, we'll post about a recent addition to The Cloisters Collection. This month, we'll take a look at a large glass dish with painted decoration.

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In Season

Up on the Rooftops

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2014

A midsummer storm sweeping off the Hudson River and lashing the buttresses of The Cloisters is a dramatic sight. Perched on a rocky outcrop with sweeping views across the river to the still-unspoiled Palisades, there is little shelter from the winds that batter the walls. This summer, we decided to strengthen our defenses against the gales and lightning with a little bit of medieval protection.

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In Circulation

A (Disappearing) Fore-edge Painted Book at The Cloisters Library

Michael Carter, Librarian, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fine book designers, binders, publishers, and collectors delight in unique methods to distinguish their objects. A book's cover or its spine is generally the first area a prospective purchaser or reader is likely to see, so it's natural that you'll often find eye-catching features there.

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In Season

In the Nick of Time

Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, August 1, 2014

All around the world, the Feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated in December. So why would I choose to write about "jolly old Saint Nick" this summer? Because two stories from the legend of this saintly bishop, both dealing with innocent young people who are in danger, have become suddenly and unexpectedly resonant for me.

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In Season

Gallery Talks by The Cloisters Summer College Interns: July 29 through August 1

Leslie Bussis Tait, Museum Educator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Cloisters Summer College Internship is a nine-week program for undergraduate students. Every summer, eight interns—selected from more than two hundred applicants—receive intensive training in museum education techniques at The Cloisters museum and gardens, where they conduct gallery workshops for five weeks with New York City day campers.

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In Season

Successful Secale

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014

In the Middle Ages, the diet of the wealthy, while plentiful, was nutritionally bereft compared to that of the common people. Those with the means feasted on meat seasoned with exotic and costly spices and wheat bread. The lighter and fresher the bread, the higher one's station in life. High-protein, low-gluten rye bread made from rye (Secale cereale) was fit only for the lowest. Rye was considered such humble food that Carthusian monks would take as a penance a hard tort made of the poorest-quality rye to symbolize their station in life as "Christ's beggars" (Henisch, 158); it was considered second rate to wheat and barley. Nonetheless, and despite its inauspicious beginnings, rye went from minor cultivation in the early Middle Ages to a staple food of temperate Europe in the ensuing centuries.

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In Season

Seekers of Shade

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014

Emily Dickinson was a passionate gardener as well as an accomplished poet, and nature provided her with a lifelong source of inspiration.

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In Season

Summer Gallery Workshops at The Cloisters

Leslie Bussis Tait, Museum Educator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014

Each summer, The Cloisters fills with the energy of young visitors, many of whom are experiencing our collection and gardens for the first time. Day campers from throughout New York City, as well as nearby suburbs, come for gallery workshops conducted by our summer college interns.

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In Season

A Family Festival at The Cloisters

Emma Wegner, Assistant Museum Educator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014

Over Memorial Day weekend, The Cloisters was for the birds. Our annual family festival had a falconry theme and included family gallery workshops and self-guided art hunts for young visitors and their families. Children ages 4 through 12 learned about falconry and the medieval hunt through artworks such as the Falcon's Bath tapestry and the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry series. They also made their own cardstock falcons (complete with hoods and jesses with bells) to take home.

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In Season

On Beauty and Fragrance

Carly Still, Assistant Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014

Though in the Middle Ages plants were used far more out of necessity than they are today, they were also admired for their beauty and fragrance. The medieval pleasure garden was designed for delight, enjoyment, and refreshment; fruit and vegetable production was not the objective.

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Now at the Met

Metropolitan Museum Singled Out for Curatorial Achievement in Time-Based Media

Pari Stave, Senior Administrator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art

Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Metropolitan Museum recently swept the AICA-USA Arts Awards for Excellence in Curatorial Achievement in the time-based media category.​

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In Season

Samuel Yellin and the "Poetry and Rhythm of Iron"

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014

The scope of architectural treasures at The Cloisters museum and gardens extends beyond our extraordinary medieval collection and includes work by the modern-day Samuel Yellin Metalworker studio. In fact, most visitors enter The Cloisters through spaces enhanced by Samuel Yellin (1884–1940), who played a major role in the American Arts and Crafts movement, both as a designer and metalworker. He was extraordinarily prolific, working alternately on an intimate or monumental scale, for private homes or large institutions, in fanciful or restrained styles.

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In Season

Climbing in the Garden

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014

Of all plants, those that climb are the most evocative of a garden's bucolic and idyllic setting. In the Middle Ages, artists and artisans took inspiration from climbing plants, as evidenced throughout the collections of The Cloisters. From the vines carved on capitals to the gilded margins of medieval manuscripts, vining and climbing plants are a recurring motif in medieval art.

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In Season

Jean d'Alluye: Conservation in the Public Eye

Lucretia Kargère, Conservator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014

Conservation treatments are not often performed on works of art in public. The process is lengthy and requires extreme concentration, and treatments usually need to be performed in fully equipped laboratories. The sight of a work in the process of being conserved might also come as a shock to passersby; seeing a work of art in its "stripped" state—where all fills and old restorations have been removed—is like seeing a celebrity un-Photoshopped or without makeup.

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In Season

Transplants in the Medieval Garden

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014

As I sat down to write a post to introduce myself, I began to pursue a topic that had been forming in my mind the week I accepted the position as managing horticulturist here at The Cloisters museum and gardens: the spread of horticultural knowledge and plants throughout medieval Europe. There is ample evidence of a thriving nursery trade and seed exchange at this point in time. Horticultural techniques and knowledge, primarily passed down orally, proliferated in monasteries. These solitary communities served as repositories of learning, safeguarding, and practicing the science and art of horticulture.

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In Season

Welcome to In Season

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

Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014

Welcome to In Season, the new blog for The Cloisters museum and gardens. Here, we plan both to continue with the garden-related posts that we began on our former blog, The Medieval Garden Enclosed, and to broaden the conversation to include special features on our collections, exhibitions, and programs. We'll also highlight things of interest behind the scenes. Our goal is to engage with our readers and to make the many activities that take place at The Cloisters accessible and engaging to our visitors, both onsite and online. We invite readers old and new to comment on our posts.

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Now at the Met

Featured Catalogue: Interview with Curator, Author, and World Book Award Recipient Helen C. Evans

Rachel High, Editorial Assistant, Editorial Department

Posted: Thursday, March 13, 2014

​Helen C. Evans, Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator of Byzantine Art, traveled to Tehran, Iran, on February 8, 2014, to accept the twenty-first annual World Book Award for her catalogue Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition. The award was presented by the World Book Award Committee of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Ministry of Culture and Religious Guidance.

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Now at the Met

A Three Kings Day Reunion

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

Posted: Monday, January 6, 2014

Today, January 6, marks the Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day. This festival is widely celebrated, especially in western Christianity, as the day that the three wise men offered frankincense, myrrh, and gold to the Christ Child following their long journey from the East. This year, Three Kings Day is especially auspicious for the Museum's collection because today we celebrate the exceptional reunification of the sculptures pictured above.

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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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Now at the Met

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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Now at the Met

The French Franciscan Cloister in New York

Céline Brugeat, 2011–2012 Annette Kade Fellow, Department of Medieval Art

Posted: Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Cloisters incorporates significant sculptural ensembles from medieval cloisters from the south of France, traditionally identified as coming from four sites: Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, Trie-en-Bigorre, and Bonnefont-en-Comminges.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

A Final Note

Brandie Ratliff, Research Associate, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Over the past few weeks, Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition was dismantled, and we've begun wrapping up work on the exhibition: thanking our generous sponsors, lenders, and catalogue authors, preparing reports on the exhibition, tidying files, and reinstalling Met objects in our permanent galleries. The exhibition was a tremendous success.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Ivory Panels

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, July 6, 2012

In the interview with Pete Dandridge, we learned about the challenges involved in treating and displaying the delicate ivory panels from al-Humayma. The thoughtful and considerate conservation work on these pieces allows us to see amazing remnants of a large Abbasid residence located in the Hisma desert of southern Jordan. They also represent—through the figures' wardrobes and poses—a point of contact between multiple cultures.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Interview with the Registrar

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2012

As registrar, Aileen Chuk organizes the arrival, installation, and return of loaned works of art for exhibitions at the Museum. I recently spoke with her about the preparations for Byzantium and Islam.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Figurines in the Mediterranean

Alzahraa K. Ahmed, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2012

In many cases, burials have served as windows onto a past culture's daily life. Children's graves are no exception. Although attracting less archaeological attention than other finds, they provide abundant material that informs our understanding of the diverse activities and habits of people during the Greco-Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic eras.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Mosaics as History: The Near East from Late Antiquity to Islam by G. W. Bowersock

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The large Jordanian floor mosaics are some of the most provocative objects in the exhibition, a fact made evident in the lively talks at the recent symposium "Floor Mosaics in the Late Antique Mediterranean," which took place at the Met on May 11, 2012.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Message: The Story of Islam, Directed by
Mustapha al-'Aqqad

Alzahraa K. Ahmed, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful, from Muhammad the Messenger of God to Heraclius the Emperor of Byzantium, greetings to him who is the follower of righteous guidance. I bid you to hear the divine call. I am the Messenger of God to the people. Accept Islam for your salvation."

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Interview with the Objects Conservator

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Pete Dandridge, Conservator and Administrator, The Sherman Fairchild Center for Objects Conservation, about his work preparing for the exhibition.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Byzantine, adj.: The Evolution of a Word

Grace Labatt, Editor, Voyageur Press

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012

Perhaps because it's an election year, the word "byzantine" pops up quite a bit in the news these days, although it's not used to refer to an artistic style or a period of history.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Early Islamic Textiles: Inscribed Garments

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012

The tradition of inscribed textiles in the Islamic world dates to the passing of the Prophet Muhammad (632 A.D.), whose spiritual and political authority was transferred through the donning of his mantle. The newly formed Muslim state experienced a number of shifts in the political arena. New allegiances were often represented by epigraphic bands on textiles, particularly garments.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza by Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole

Yitzchak Schwartz, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Monday, July 2, 2012

Reams of scholarship have been written on the contents of the Cairo Geniza, but in Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza, authors Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole explore how the 1896 discovery itself changed the world of Jewish scholarship.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Saint Bart's and Hildreth Meière

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012

Like Saint Anselm's, which I discussed in an earlier post, Saint Bartholomew's Church in New York City (often known as "St. Bart's") offers an example of early twentieth-century appreciation of the Byzantine aesthetic.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Persian-Style Riding Coat

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012

While garment styles in the Late Antique world were simple in form—consisting of the T-shaped tunic for men and children, and loose, draped garments, such as the gunna and palla, for women—Persian garments of the late Sasanian period (220–650) reflect more complex tailoring and forms.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Judaism During the Byzantine Period

Yitzchak Schwartz, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012

The historical period explored in Byzantium and Islam was deeply transformative for Judaism. In this post, I'll give a brief summary of Judaism during this transitional time, focusing on some important trends showcased in the exhibition.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Interview with the Research Associate

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012

Brandie Ratliff, the research associate for Byzantium and Islam, joined me recently for a chat about her participation in the show. She worked closely with the curator Dr. Helen Evans on many aspects of the exhibition and catalogue.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels by Janet Martin Soskice

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012

In The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels, Janet Martin Soskice tells the story of twin sisters Agnes and Margaret Smith, born in Scotland in 1843, who made a discovery that would have implications for the future of biblical studies.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Scripts in Development

Hannah Korn, Collections Management Assistant, Department of Drawings and Prints

Posted: Thursday, June 28, 2012

The range of manuscripts included in Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition suggests the importance of book production in the cultures found throughout the exhibition. Paleography (the study of handwriting) provides insight into the development of script and writing during this time.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Christian Imagery on Silk Textiles: The Annunciation Silk

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The red Annunciation silk depicts the seated Virgin dressed in royal purple, receiving a message from the angel Gabriel, encircled by floral medallions referencing a jeweled garden. The fragment is believed to be part of the same textile as a Nativity scene that survives at the Vatican.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Fashion and Style in Byzantium

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012

In a post last week, Annie discussed how certain forms of dress distinguished cultural groups during the Byzantine era, but what about fashion and style?

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Dress Styles in the Mosaics of San Vitale

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012

The pinnacle of early imperial Byzantine dress is best seen in the mosaics of Emperor Justinian and Empress Theodora at the Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy (ca. 547 A.D.). Facing opposite one another in the apse of the church, each mosaic depicts the main figure bedecked in finery and accompanied by a retinue.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Woven Silk

Nazanin Hedayat Munroe, Artist and Art Historian

Posted: Monday, June 25, 2012

Silk textiles were produced in Byzantium long before local weavers had figured out how to acquire and produce silk from silkworms. For centuries, the Chinese held a monopoly on the raw materials required to create these highly desired textiles.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam by Sidney H. Griffith

Heather Badamo, Harper-Schmidt Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Art History, University of Chicago

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2012

Walking through galleries that display Qur'ans and Muslim palatial sculpture, you may wonder what happened to the Christian communities who came to live under Islamic rule. In The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque, Sidney H. Griffith goes some way toward answering this question, showing how Christians made a place for themselves in the new Islamic caliphate.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Dome of the Rock

Ana Botchkareva, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of Islamic Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2012

Originally constructed between 688 and 692 under the rule of Abd al-Malik, whom Yitzchak introduced in the previous post, the Dome of the Rock is one of the most emblematic architectural landmarks in the history of Islamic culture. On the one hand, the monument carries a unique and unifying significance for Islamic religious communities over broad temporal and geographic scopes; on the other hand, it reflects the far-reaching extent of intercultural contacts and dialogues that have shaped such Islamic communities over time, on a local level.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Abd al Malik ibn Marwan

Yitzchak Schwartz, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2012

Born in Mecca and raised in Medina, the two most holy sites of Islam, the fifth caliph, Abd Al Malik Ibn Marwan, spearheaded the creation of many of the institutions that centralized the Islamic empire around his capital in Damascus and asserted its independence from Byzantine traditions.

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