The Met Cloisters: An Overview
Opened in 1938 as a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Met Cloisters is America’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the art and architecture of the Middle Ages. Including a museum and gardens within a single complex, it picturesquely overlooks the Hudson River in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan and derives its name from the portions of five medieval cloisters incorporated into a modern museum structure. Not replicating any one particular medieval building type or setting, but rather designed to evoke the architecture of the later Middle Ages, The Met Cloisters creates an integrated and harmonious context in which visitors can experience the rich tradition of medieval artistic production, including metalwork, painting, sculpture, and textiles. By definition, a cloister consists of a covered walkway surrounding a large open courtyard that provides access to other monastic buildings. Similarly, the museum’s cloisters act as passageways to galleries; they provide as inviting a place for rest and contemplation for visitors as they often did in their original monastic settings.