Posted: Thursday, September 5, 2013
Although theatrical plays had been presented at the original Cloisters museum at 699 Fort Washington Avenue until its closing in February 1936, it was not until the performance of The Miracle of Theophilus at The Cloisters' current home in January 1942 that a medieval drama was produced for the first time. Envisioned and organized by the curatorial staff, with a text translated from the original French into English by Curator James Rorimer—later director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art—and costumes designed by Associate Curator Margaret Freeman, the thirteenth-century play was enjoyed by a group of Museum members on the Feast of the Epiphany. Thus began a tradition of medieval theatrical performances at The Cloisters.
Posted: Friday, August 2, 2013
From 1951 to 1957, The Cloisters hosted annual festivals for children of Members. Each of the seven festivals—held in the courtyard and given vibrantly titled themes such as "Round Table Capers" (1954) and "When Knights were Bold" (1955)—was an extravagant affair organized by the staff of the Met's Junior Museum, the precursor to what is now the Education Department. Children enjoyed puppet shows, games, donkey rides, and even trained bears.
Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013
I am Cyrus, king of the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world.
—The Cyrus Cylinder (Line 20)
Posted: Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Museum's new Guide highlights special works from each of our seventeen curatorial departments. Coming in at four hundred fifty-six pages and featuring almost six hundred works of art, it is the first new Guide to be published about the Museum in twenty-nine years. While reviewing the new publication, I discovered a few fun facts about the works of art from around the globe and across the centuries featured in its pages.
Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013
For the past seventy-five years, The Cloisters has provided visitors with more than just a chance to view an exceptional collection of medieval art and architecture. In tourist guides and travel reviews, a trip to The Cloisters is commonly described as a way to be transported to the Middle Ages or—for locals seeking a "staycation"—a chance to get out of New York without leaving the city. The powerful effect of the place has clearly been noticed by screenwriters, novelists, and even comicbook authors, who have set a fair number of fictional works here over the years.
Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Toward the end of the first century a.d. Jerusalem lay in ruins, the second temple built by Herod the Great (74/73–4 b.c.) destroyed and ransacked by the Roman army. Meanwhile, in Babylon, scribes continued to copy ancient texts, inscribing some of them on cuneiform tablets made of clay. After the last cuneiform scribe passed to his fate, no one remained who could read or write documents in Babylonian, Assyrian, or Sumerian. In 1893, pioneer archaeologists and explorers digging in Iraq began to uncover vast archives of cuneiform tablets that had been buried for two thousand years. Today, philologists, archaeologists, and historians are able to combine narratives previously known only from the Bible with information gleaned from thousands of historic, literary, religious, and scientific texts, illuminating the world of Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and Cyrus. The Cyrus Cylinder, now on view at the Met, helps us understand the peoples and policies of the ancient Near East.
Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
I'm back in New York, and I've had a chance to reflect on my first Travel with the Met experience. The trip was truly unforgettable, thanks in part to the hospitality and humor of our Russian hosts and the stoic pride they take in their country.
Posted: Monday, July 1, 2013
Now on view (through September 8), the exhibition Living in Style brings together drawings, prints, books, and pieces of furniture from the Museum's collections to illustrate five centuries of interior design, from the Renaissance period through the 1960s. Following a chronological path of development, the show traces changes and continuities in the approach to materials, shapes, colors, and decorations as displayed by the works on paper.
Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013
"Creating the Cloisters," the spring issue of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin written by curator Timothy B. Husband, is an engaging and nuanced narrative of the early history of The Cloisters. As a complement to that narrative, I'd like to review the more recent gallery renovations and reinstallations that have been undertaken, all guided by the principle of maintaining the integrity of the original architectural vision of The Cloisters.
Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013
Our local guide explained that the first settlers to the Kizhi Island area in the sixteenth century practiced two religions simultaneously: Russian Orthodox Christianity and pre-Christian pagan mysticism.