Middle Age Crazy

High atop a hill at the northern tip of Manhattan Island stands the Cloisters, the branch of the Metropolitan Museum devoted to the art of the middle ages. Constructed in the early 20th century, the fortress-like building was inspired by medieval structures. The setting, structure and core of the collection were gifts from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to the people of New York.

This building incorporates chapels, halls, rooms and architectural elements from Europe. The ancient stone portals, windows, columns and fountains allow many of the items on display to be shown in settings similar to their original situations. Visitors don’t simply view a wooden crucifix hanging against a white gallery wall; they see it displayed in a stone chapel, illuminated by sunbeams streaming through stained glass windows.

The museum also features three enclosed gardens, including an herb garden containing more than 250 species that were grown during the Middle Ages. The plants, grown in beds and large pots, are grouped by their intended use: household, medicinal, aromatic, kitchen and seasoning, salads and vegetables, plants used by artists, magic plants, those associated with love and marriage.

The most famous work in the Cloisters is the Unicorn Tapestries, a series of Belgian textiles portraying a party of nobles hunting and capturing the mythical creature. The collection also includes stained-glass windows, metalwork, sculpture, painting, liturgical miniatures, enamels, jewelry and of course, cloisters.

Main entrance Posted by Picasa

Lion wall fountain Posted by Picasa

Doorway to a courtyard Posted by Picasa

Butterfly in herb garden Posted by Picasa

Dragon fresco Posted by Picasa

Lion fresco Posted by Picasa

Carved ivory Posted by Picasa

Miniature ivory carving Posted by Picasa

Cross shadow Posted by Picasa

Red columns Posted by Picasa

The Unicorn is Found Posted by Picasa

The Unicorn Leaps Out of the Stream Posted by Picasa

The Unicorn at Bay Posted by Picasa

The Start of the Hunt Posted by Picasa

The Unicorn in Captivity Posted by Picasa

Window in gothic hall Posted by Picasa

Swabian stained glass panel of groom Posted by Picasa

Swabian stained glass panel of bride Posted by Picasa

A seat in the shade Posted by Picasa

Bonnefort Cloister on lower level Posted by Picasa

Espaliered pear tree Posted by Picasa

Exterior at closing time Posted by Picasa

  • The Cloisters
  • Introduction to the Cloisters
  • The Unicorn Tapestries
  • The Cloisters: Medieval Art and Architecture
  • Middle Age Crazy
  • 6 Responses to Middle Age Crazy

    1. Fidget says:

      fabulous pictures, that pear tree is amazing!


    2. Trekwoman says:

      Was just scrolling through the Chit-Chat forum and came upon your link. Will bookmark your site for future reading.

      Those photos are beautiful! I’d always wondered about the Cloisters and now I want to go.


    3. overlalune says:

      Beautiful photos, how do you manage to post so many in one blog entry? I see the Picasa icon, haven’t worked out how to use that yet.
      Have heard about The Cloisters, didn’t realise it had those lovely tapestries. You MUST visit the Musée du Moyen-Age in Paris with the Lady and the Unicorn set.

      To answer your question in ChitChat, maybe you have to say something really outrageous to get people to comment!


    4. Anonymous says:

      Wish I knew what to comment – just know that I enjoy your entries and have it bookmarked. I’m disappointed when I come back to visit and there are no new entries!


    5. Wren says:

      The Unicorn in Captivity always gives me the saddest feeling.

      I love your blog, but it also leaves me sad that there is so much there that I’m missing and will never get to see for myself! 😉


    6. herschelian says:

      I didn’t know you had a blog or I would have bookmarked it way back. I love seeing a place through the eyes of someone who knows and loves it
      I am SO impressed, your photos are fantastic, I am a “baby” blogger only started last month, and am still trying to get the hang of it technically, and to find a tone of voice that I think is right.


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