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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

Gallery Talks by The Cloisters Summer College Interns: July 29 through August 1

Leslie Bussis Tait, Museum Educator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Cloisters Summer College Internship is a nine-week program for undergraduate students. Every summer, eight interns—selected from more than two hundred applicants—receive intensive training in museum education techniques at The Cloisters museum and gardens, where they conduct gallery workshops for five weeks with New York City day campers.

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In Season

Successful Secale

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, July 10, 2014

In the Middle Ages, the diet of the wealthy, while plentiful, was nutritionally bereft compared to that of the common people. Those with the means feasted on meat seasoned with exotic and costly spices and wheat bread. The lighter and fresher the bread, the higher one's station in life. High-protein, low-gluten rye bread made from rye (Secale cereale) was fit only for the lowest. Rye was considered such humble food that Carthusian monks would take as a penance a hard tort made of the poorest-quality rye to symbolize their station in life as "Christ's beggars" (Henisch, 158); it was considered second rate to wheat and barley. Nonetheless, and despite its inauspicious beginnings, rye went from minor cultivation in the early Middle Ages to a staple food of temperate Europe in the ensuing centuries.

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In Season

Seekers of Shade

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014

Emily Dickinson was a passionate gardener as well as an accomplished poet, and nature provided her with a lifelong source of inspiration.

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In Season

Summer Gallery Workshops at The Cloisters

Leslie Bussis Tait, Museum Educator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 27, 2014

Each summer, The Cloisters fills with the energy of young visitors, many of whom are experiencing our collection and gardens for the first time. Day campers from throughout New York City, as well as nearby suburbs, come for gallery workshops conducted by our summer college interns.

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In Season

A Family Festival at The Cloisters

Emma Wegner, Assistant Museum Educator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014

Over Memorial Day weekend, The Cloisters was for the birds. Our annual family festival had a falconry theme and included family gallery workshops and self-guided art hunts for young visitors and their families. Children ages 4 through 12 learned about falconry and the medieval hunt through artworks such as the Falcon's Bath tapestry and the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestry series. They also made their own cardstock falcons (complete with hoods and jesses with bells) to take home.

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In Season

On Beauty and Fragrance

Carly Still, Assistant Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014

Though in the Middle Ages plants were used far more out of necessity than they are today, they were also admired for their beauty and fragrance. The medieval pleasure garden was designed for delight, enjoyment, and refreshment; fruit and vegetable production was not the objective.

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Now at the Met

Metropolitan Museum Singled Out for Curatorial Achievement in Time-Based Media

Pari Stave, Senior Administrator, Department of Modern and Contemporary Art

Posted: Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Metropolitan Museum recently swept the AICA-USA Arts Awards for Excellence in Curatorial Achievement in the time-based media category.​

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In Season

Samuel Yellin and the "Poetry and Rhythm of Iron"

Christina Alphonso, Administrator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014

The scope of architectural treasures at The Cloisters museum and gardens extends beyond our extraordinary medieval collection and includes work by the modern-day Samuel Yellin Metalworker studio. In fact, most visitors enter The Cloisters through spaces enhanced by Samuel Yellin (1884–1940), who played a major role in the American Arts and Crafts movement, both as a designer and metalworker. He was extraordinarily prolific, working alternately on an intimate or monumental scale, for private homes or large institutions, in fanciful or restrained styles.

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In Season

Climbing in the Garden

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014

Of all plants, those that climb are the most evocative of a garden's bucolic and idyllic setting. In the Middle Ages, artists and artisans took inspiration from climbing plants, as evidenced throughout the collections of The Cloisters. From the vines carved on capitals to the gilded margins of medieval manuscripts, vining and climbing plants are a recurring motif in medieval art.

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In Season

Jean d'Alluye: Conservation in the Public Eye

Lucretia Kargère, Conservator, The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, May 15, 2014

Conservation treatments are not often performed on works of art in public. The process is lengthy and requires extreme concentration, and treatments usually need to be performed in fully equipped laboratories. The sight of a work in the process of being conserved might also come as a shock to passersby; seeing a work of art in its "stripped" state—where all fills and old restorations have been removed—is like seeing a celebrity un-Photoshopped or without makeup.

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