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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

Laser Cleaning for Stone Conservation at The Cloisters

Emeline Baude, Assistant Conservator, The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014

To clean or not to clean? That is the question.

The decision whether to clean a work of art is a difficult one for art conservators, as doing so is an irreversible action. Art that has withstood the vicissitudes of time comes to us with surfaces that show their age. While superficial layers may appear dirty, cleaning them sometimes removes information that is relevant to the history of the object. Thus, prior to making any treatment decision, conservators thoroughly study and analyze all aspects of a work of art.

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In Season

Recent Acquisition: Reverse-Painted Dish with Abraham and Melchizedek

Tim Husband, Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2014

Once every month or so, we'll post about a recent addition to The Cloisters Collection. This month, we'll take a look at a large glass dish with painted decoration.

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In Season

Up on the Rooftops

Caleb Leech, Managing Horticulturist, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Thursday, August 7, 2014

A midsummer storm sweeping off the Hudson River and lashing the buttresses of The Cloisters is a dramatic sight. Perched on a rocky outcrop with sweeping views across the river to the still-unspoiled Palisades, there is little shelter from the winds that batter the walls. This summer, we decided to strengthen our defenses against the gales and lightning with a little bit of medieval protection.

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In Circulation

A (Disappearing) Fore-edge Painted Book at The Cloisters Library

Michael Carter, Librarian, The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fine book designers, binders, publishers, and collectors delight in unique methods to distinguish their objects. A book's cover or its spine is generally the first area a prospective purchaser or reader is likely to see, so it's natural that you'll often find eye-catching features there.

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In Season

In the Nick of Time

Barbara Drake Boehm, Paul and Jill Ruddock Curator, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Friday, August 1, 2014

All around the world, the Feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated in December. So why would I choose to write about "jolly old Saint Nick" this summer? Because two stories from the legend of this saintly bishop, both dealing with innocent young people who are in danger, have become suddenly and unexpectedly resonant for me.

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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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