Metropolitan Cloisters

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The Cloisters, also known as the Metropolitan Cloisters, is a museum devoted to European medieval architectural style, focusing on the Romanesque and Gothic periods. It is located in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York City. It is located in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York City. It is located in Fort Tryon Park. It has a massive collection of medieval artworks shown in the architectural settings of French monasteries and abbeys. The Metropolitan Museum of Art oversees it. Its structures are focused on four cloisters—the Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem, Bonnefont, and Trie—purchased in France before 1913 by American artist and art dealer George Grey Barnard and relocated to New York. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a billionaire, and philanthropist, purchased Barnard’s collection for the Museum. J. P. Morgan’s and Joseph Brummer’s collections were other vital sources of artifacts.


The Museum’s structure, which has higher and lower floors, was created by architect Charles Collens on a steep hillside. The Romanesque, Fuentiduea, Unicorn, Spanish, and Gothic rooms are among the many medieval gardens, chapels, and themed galleries. The structure’s form, layout, and mood convey a feeling of medieval European monastic life. It has over 5,000 items of art and architecture, all of which are European in origin and predominantly date from the Byzantine to the early Renaissance eras, namely the 12th to 15th centuries. Stone and wood sculptures, tapestries, illuminated manuscripts, and panel paintings, among them the c. 1422 Early Netherlandish Mérode Altarpiece and the c. 1495–1505 Flemish Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries, are among the most well-known.


In 1930, Rockefeller bought the museum property in Washington Heights and presented it to the Metropolitan in 1931 and the Bayard collection. The Met Cloisters were defined as a collection “presented casually in a lovely environment, which stimulates the imagination and generates a receptive attitude for pleasure” when it was opened on May 10, 1938.


The Cloisters has been depicted and referenced in various works of popular culture since its opening in 1938. In 1948, filmmaker Maya Deren used the Cloisters’ ramparts as a background for her experimental film Meditation on Violence, which became one of the most well-known uses of the Cloisters as a location. The Cloisters were utilized as the setting for a convent school in German filmmaker William Dieterle’s film Portrait of Jennie that same year. The site’s walkways and lanes were used in the 1968 film Coogan’s Bluff for a picturesque motorbike pursuit. Finally, Maria (Rachel Zegler) and Tony (Ansel Elgort) embark on a date at the Cloisters in Steven Spielberg’s 2021 film West Side Story.


The Museum engages in several initiatives, including one that provides free entrance to students. The Museum is accessible to all New York City public school children and students from Bard Graduate Center, Barnard College, Columbia University, and New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. Please check with your school management to determine whether your student ID qualifies you for free Museum entrance. To learn more, visit the website or call 212-923-3700.


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