Tyron Park and The Cloisters

The Metropolitan Museum of Art makes the list of “things to do in New York” for most people, but the number of people who make it to the extension museum The Cloisters, dedicated exclusively to medieval art, wanes. But it definitely shouldn’t because medieval art is awesome!

Case in point:

medieval stain glass

Admittedly, The Cloisters Museum is a bit out of the way… situated on the far northern end of Manhattan island in Tyron Park.

Tyron Park, itself, it quite beautiful and about as solitary as you can get in the ever hectic New York.  Sure, there are a few people hanging out on the lawn or strolling through, but I found myself alone as I wove up the climbing path towards the museum.

tyron park, new york city

One of the tricks to the museums in NYC is that many of them have admission prices, but they’re “suggested/recommended” admission prices, meaning you can give them a dollar if you’re low on cash. If you have the means, of course, you should pay the full price, but for those who don’t it means you can enjoy these amazing museums and works of art for $1 donation.

the cloisters museum

The interesting thing about The Cloisters museum, I think, is that much of it is made from all these centuries old architectural elements. It’s like an extreme recycling project, putting together a new building from construction materials dating from the twelfth through the fifteenth century, but it adds such a unique aspect. Some of the rooms even look like they rebuilt the tombs of old European churches I’ve walked around in.

gothic church tomb, the cloisterssaint, stained glass, the cloisters

The art pieces are both domestic and religious, mostly religious, and if you take time to look at the details you can find some great surprises. I’m a big fan of the gory violence that all these religious paintings depict.

medieval art, the cloisters

All joking aside though, the amount of detail in the ivory-carved alters, ranging from tiny to massive, or the magnificent tapestries is absolutely jaw-dropping. Take the example of the museum’s most famous possession, the Unicorn Tapestries. I’ve been a fan of these tapestries for ages (my best friend is obsesses with them) so I was glad I could finally see them in real life.

unicorn tapestries, the cloisters

“The Unicorn in Captivity”

Turns out the medieval folks knew what they were doing when it came to weaving, but were kind of clueless about biology… they thought narwhal horns were from unicorns.

the cloisters, metropolitan museum of art

In conclusion, go to The Cloisters when you get the chance! I’M LOVING NEW YORK!



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