Lamech (detail), from the Ancestors of Christ Windows, Canterbury Cathedral, England, 1178–80. Colored glass and vitreous paint; lead came. Images © Robert Greshoff Photography, courtesy Dean and Chapter of Canterbury
«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.»
In this first post, we're considering the idea of pilgrimage. While the concept of the sacred journey had special resonance during the Middle Ages, today it's also used more loosely to embrace a journey that promises rewards at the end. We chose this theme for two reasons. The first is that The Cloisters is currently hosting a special exhibition, Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral (on view through May 18), that highlights one of the most revered pilgrimage destinations of the Middle Ages. The second is that spring is a time when many New Yorkers and others journey to Fort Tryon Park to celebrate the loosening of winter's grip. Whether you are coming for the show or to have taste of the turning of the season, now is the time to visit us in northern Manhattan.
The centerpiece of Radiant Light is a monumental tower featuring six spectacular stained-glass windows. Originally fashioned for a program nearly sixty feet above the floor of Canterbury Cathedral, these windows have never been seen outside of Canterbury in their eight-hundred-year history, and will likely never travel again. When they were made, the windows were among the most ambitious glass programs in any European cathedral. As critics such as Holland Cotter have remarked, it's a profound experience to be able to see them up close and personal.
For those also looking to take in the surrounding grounds at The Cloisters, the gardens are being prepared for the planting and growing seasons. Caleb Leech, our newly arrived managing horticulturalist, will be posting here in the weeks to come, and we look forward to sharing his work. Don't take the views for granted, however, as LG Electronics is moving ahead with plans to build a corporate park and tower across the river. Learn more about this on protectthepalisades.org and in future posts.
Finally, don't forget that a trip to The Cloisters is also a great excuse to explore the surrounding neighborhoods of Inwood and Washington Heights (see the recent New York Times article "36 Hours in Upper Manhattan"). Like any pilgrimage, there can be many stops along the way.