This lovely branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. The building is an assemblage of actual cloisters and other buildings from Europe. The Cloisters is in Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan.
A cloister is a home for monks or nuns. In architectural terms, a cloister is a covered walkway that surrounds a courtyard. Many medieval buildings in France and Europe are designed this way.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
The Cloisters was created by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the second in the Rockefeller family whose wealth came from Standard Oil. He purchased several estates to create Fort Tryon Park. The museum’s sculpture collection is built upon the collection of George Grey Barnard which Rockefeller purchased. Rockefeller added the Unicorn Tapestries to the collection. These are the museum’s signature art works. The museum’s collection includes illuminated manuscripts and stained glass windows.
The Cloisters Buildings
The first thing you notice about the Met Cloisters is the building which opened in 1938. It is built primarily of elements from the French monasteries and abbeys of Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Trie-sur-Baïse, and Froville. The Met Cloisters contains several lovely gardens planted in the manner of the period.
The Met Cloisters are designed to give you the feeling of being in a medieval monastery or abbey. It is a lovely, serene place. It is hard at times to believe that this is Manhattan. The Cloisters is a great place to go in Summer. The stone keeps the rooms cool naturally. The rooms are also air conditioned to preserve the art works.