Journey to The Met Cloisters

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s second location, The Met Cloisters, is one of my favorite museums. Dedicated to the art of the Middle Ages, the museum was completed in 1938 using both modern materials and architectural salvage from European castles, churches and monasteries. It has distinct spaces evoking those structures, nesting the artworks in the collection in a familiar context — the unicorn tapestries in a castle-like room, for example. Even the outdoors is a medieval wonderland, with its cloister garden of carefully curated plants that gives the museum its name.

Take a quick flythrough to see you for yourself:

This fall, the gardens were the subject of a fascinating webinar with The Cloisters’ horticulturalists. It gives you a glimpse behind the scenes of the work at the end of the growing season and how they curate the landscape using medieval sources. 

The museum has a ton of other virtual content. There’s an overview of the building and its content here. The audio tours are comprehensive and worth listening to even when you’re not fortunate enough to be present in person. I also love the blog about the history of The Cloisters’ Library and Archives and its dedicated librarians. 

3 thoughts on “Journey to The Met Cloisters

  1. Ah! Those dedicated to the Arts of the Middle Ages should know what it means, when particularly a 76 years old Metropolitan Ex-Mayor and United States Attorney cries for “Trial by Combat” and that there are rules for this (also, it might be punishable on itself).

    The Talhofer ‘fencing manual‘ from 1467, however, describes in chapter 11 the ‘jurisdiction combat’ between a woman and a bloke in a hole. It is probably worth noticing in this context that women also could hire a ‘fencing master’ like Talhofer for a ‘trial by combat’.

    “Da hatt sie In gefaßt by dem halß. vnd by sinem züg vnd wyl In vß der gruben ziehen” — It ends with the woman grabbing him by his neck and his ‘you know what’, about to drag him finally out of his ‘trial combat pit’, or ‘gruben’ as it is here referred to on pp. 240–248:


  2. I grew up in New Jersey nearby, and early discovered that The Cloisters was a unique treasure. I can’t begin to count the number of times I have told visitors or potential visitors to New York not to miss it on any account. Most have never heard of it, and would not discover it on their own, tucked away as it is in extreme northern Manhattan.

  3. A couple of years ago, my sister and I spent a lovely day at The Cloisters. A word of warning: if you’re susceptible to books, stay out of the shop.

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