Inside The Cloisters

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May was such a busy month! Between moving, visiting my dad, and work it’s no surprise that the final installment of my trip to New York City was delayed. But here it is in all it’s glory!

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A cloister is defined as “a covered walk, open gallery, or open arcade running along the walls of buildings and forming a quadrangle or garth”. They are most often seen in monasteries as “cloistered life” refers to the life of a monk or nun. So why has this museum taken a common noun and turned it into a proper noun for it’s name? The Cloisters was not originally used as a monastery but was designed as a medieval museum¬† by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. Infact, the museum isn’t copy of a specific medieval structure but a “an ensemble informed by a selection of historical precedents, with a deliberate comibation of ecclesiastical and secular spaces arranged in chronological order” (The Met).

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The museum sits in Upper Manhattan, New York within Fort Tryon Park on 66.5 acres. The initial collection  of medieval architecture, sculpture, and decorative arts was owned by George Grey Barnard.

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My favorite display in the museum is The Hunt of the Unicorn, or the Unicorn Tapestries. They take up entire walls and clearly depict medieval obsession and belief in unicorns. While the seven tapestries seem to depict the story of a hunting party there is some debate as to whether they were originally hung together.

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Missed the previous posts of my trip to New York City and The Cloisters?
Click the following links: Part One & Part Two

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