Thursday, June 09, 2011
Serenity, Tranquility, Peace
Although technically in the borough of Manhattan, I have always felt it was almost a little undeserving for any New York borough to take claim to something so special as the Cloisters - it is located at the northernmost end of the island, as far as one can get from Uptown, Midtown, Downtown or any other area of that one would typically associate with New York City. Apart from the small number of residents in Washington Heights/Inwood, this area is really a destination for New Yorkers and visitors alike.
The Cloisters is a museum of medieval art and architecture, a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Everyone loves this extraordinary complex - it's a close as you are going to get to genuine French architecture in the city. Germain Bazin, former director of the Musée du Louvre in Paris, described the Cloisters as "the crowning achievement of American museology."
The museum buildings were designed by Charles Collens and constructed from elements salvaged from five cloistered abbeys in France: Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigorre, and Froville. The sections used were disassembled brick-by-brick, shipped to New York City and reassembled between 1934 and 1938. From the Cloisters website:
Three of the cloisters reconstructed at the branch museum feature gardens planted according to horticultural information found in medieval treatises and poetry, garden documents and herbals, and medieval works of art, such as tapestries, stained-glass windows, and column capitals. Approximately three thousand works of art from medieval Europe, dating from the ninth to the sixteenth century, are exhibited in this unique and sympathetic context.
Located on four acres overlooking the Hudson River in northern Manhattan's Fort Tryon Park, the Cloisters is a world apart from the glitter, glamour, hustle bustle and frenetic energy of the city. For most New Yorkers, Fort Tryon Park and the Cloisters is a country getaway, a mini vacation. Visit the Cloisters if you want a small vacation from the city and Serenity, Tranquility and Peace :)
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