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Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Medieval Art

The Museum's collection of medieval and Byzantine art is among the most comprehensive in the world. Displayed in both the Main Building and in the Metropolitan's branch in northern Manhattan, The Cloisters museum and gardens, the collection encompasses the art of the Mediterranean and Europe from the fall of Rome in the fourth century to the beginning of the Renaissance in the early sixteenth century. It also includes pre-medieval European works of art created during the Bronze Age and early Iron Age.

In Season

The Portal of Villeloin-Coulangé at The Cloisters: Attribution After Eighty Years of Anonymity

Lucretia Kargère, Conservator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens; and Nancy Wu, Museum Educator, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, November 20, 2014

Every curator, at one point or another, has to grapple with questions of provenance. In the case of medieval stone sculpture, works often come to us in fragmentary states, roughly removed from their original sites during revolutionary events, or cautiously salvaged from monuments that have not been cared for over time. Conservators, scientists, and art historians often collaborate to solve questions of geographic origin and attribution.

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Teen Blog

What's Your Flavor?

Alexandra, Former High School Intern

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2014

Art is like ice cream. (A weird analogy, but bear with me.) Every ice cream lover has a preference; some like chocolate, others vanilla. The same holds true of art. Some like Impressionist painting, others prefer medieval armor.

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In Season

On Voyages and Vessels

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, November 13, 2014

But if you let the gourd stay
Enjoying the summer sun on its parent tree and only
set your blade to it late in the year, then after scooping
the flesh from its ponderous belly and shaving the sides
on a nimble lathe, you can put it to practical use as a vessel.
A pint this mighty paunch will sometimes hold, sometimes half a gallon or more; and if you seal your jar with gummy pitch it will keep wine good for many a day.

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In Season

The Curious Tale of the "Vegetable Lamb"

Carly Still, Assistant Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, November 7, 2014

Levant cotton (Gossypium herbaceum) is a beautiful plant. I was quickly charmed by its flawless, creamy white flowers, which bloom in our Medieval Artists and Craftsmen bed through the summer months. This economically important fiber plant belongs to the Mallow family (Malvaceae), and is a relative of some of my garden favorites, like the hollyhock (Alcea rosea) and common mallow (Malva sylvestris), both of which are medieval and grown in the medicinal bed.

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In Season

In Anticipation of "Soft-Dying" Days

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014

I have borrowed an evocative description of the season from the great English Romantic poet John Keats. His "Ode to Autumn" (see below) was written in September 1819 and published the following year, and it serves as an elegy to his career as a poet. Keats's personification of autumn reveals the progression from the ripening of summer fruit to the fall harvest, the fading of spring birdsong to the bleating of mature lambs.

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In Season

A Swim to The Cloisters

Carrie Rebora Barratt, Deputy Director for Collections and Administration

Posted: Thursday, October 23, 2014

Saturday, September 20, was a bright, sunny day, a perfect day for a late-summer swim. While many New Yorkers enjoyed the beaches and lakes that afternoon, an intrepid—some would say crazy—group of about 250 swimmers took their dip in the Hudson River, sliding in off the kayak pontoon at Pier 96, at 56th Street.

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In Season

Holly Bears the Crown

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, October 16, 2014

The gardens are abuzz with activity as autumn settles upon us, and sporadic blazes of fall color across the Hudson River herald the season. To some, the onset of cooler temperatures is cause for despair. Others welcome the respite from hot summer days. What many of us share in common, though, is a renewed awareness of the natural world. It is a poignant time.

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Digital Underground

New and Familiar Pilgrimages: Viewing The Cloisters with Google Glass

Neal Stimler, Digital Asset Specialist, Digital Media

Posted: Monday, October 13, 2014

This past May, I made a familiar pilgrimage to The Cloisters, the northern Manhattan branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Fort Tryon Park. The Cloisters are a unique treasure of the museum world, featuring beautiful gardens, a stunning collection of medieval art, and majestic spaces. The purpose of my journey was to spend the day with Museum staff testing Google Glass. The camera within Google Glass would be the focus of our exploration on this memorable day, helping my colleagues and I to see the space in new ways.

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In Season

The Horticultural Roots of Joseph Breck

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, October 9, 2014

Recent posts by Michael Carter and a special seventy-fifth anniversary Bulletin by Timothy B. Husband introduced readers to a pivotal yet seldom-recognized figure in the formative years of The Cloisters museum and gardens—Joseph Henry Breck (1885–1933). The basic layout of the galleries and gardens of The Cloisters is primarily due to Breck's close collaboration with the architect Charles Collens, and their final plans provide coherence when the museum and gardens are seen as a whole. Sadly, Breck died suddenly in 1933 and never saw his plans realized. In addition to his formidable talents as an art historian, Breck was also a skilled artist, contributing many illustrations to the Harvard Lampoon during his undergraduate years. His watercolors and pencil sketches serve as visual evidence of his inspirations and thought processes while planning The Cloisters. While Breck's curatorial training and career are well documented, his interest in gardens is not.

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Teen Blog

One in Over Two Million

Kendra, Former Graduate Intern, Education Department

Posted: Friday, October 3, 2014

From the more than two million works in the Met's permanent collection, one tiny object has held me captive ever since I first laid eyes on it. I started my graduate internship in the Education Department in late January of this year, and as I made my way through the Museum throughout my internship—selecting artworks for programs and supporting events, ambling from the mailroom to the Petrie Court, and exploring the galleries of African, Asian, and medieval art—the Crib of the Infant Jesus always managed to stop me in my tracks, demanding at least a few good minutes of contemplation each time.

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