When you enter the Cloisters Art Museum you’ll leave Manhattan and step into a little piece of Europe. Located in Fort Tryon Park in Upper Manhattan, the Cloisters Museum is a medieval art museum. The museum is a blend of paintings, architecture, sculptures, artifacts, and stained glass. With several courtyards, you’ll wander in and out of doors admiring everything from sunshine-laden stained glass windows to dark rooms protecting tapestries featuring mythical beasts.
A cafe in one of the courtyards at The Cloisters
Books + Illumination. My medieval profession of choice.
A tapestry in the Unicorn Room
When: Open 7 Days a Week, 10am-5:15pm
Why: The Cloisters was the collection of George Grey Barnard, who had a personal passion for medieval art. The Cloisters has been a part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art since 1925. There are countless vivid stained glass windows, altarpieces, paintings, and statues. Downstairs in the “treasures” room are smaller pieces – and definitely worth the time. See some amazing illuminated books, and even a modified deck of playing cards.
Of Note: Don’t miss the Unicorn Room. Yes, you read that correctly. There is a whole room of medieval tapestries portraying hordes of men attacking the frightful mythical beast. There is even (what they believed to be) a unicorn horn on display. (Which is actually the tusk of a Narwhal.) Also, the Cloisters Museum has multiple courtyards (including one with a cafe) for milling about and enjoying the sunshine. (It’s always nice when art museums have pleasurable places to sit down. My feet need a break every once in a while.) Also, from the front of the building is a large terrace with beautiful views of the Hudson River.
All the credit for this afternoon goes out to my lovely tour-guide of a sister-in-law! We spent about three hours exploring The Cloisters, as well as some of the nearby Fort Tryon Park. We spent the rest of the beautiful and sunny afternoon walking through Central Park and then a fantastic dinner at Greek restaurant Kefi. I was in NYC for business, and managed to also eat at Rosa Mexicano (legit table-side guacamole service) and the Empire Hotel Rooftop (you’ll have to lurk for a seat but the views are worth it)! I recommend them all!
The city of a million restaurants!
Medieval art isn’t my favorite, but this museum was worth the trip. What’s your favorite type of art?