View Full Version : The Cloisters

November 18th, 2003, 12:21 PM
I thought there was already a photo gallery of the Cloisters - maybe it was wiped out in last year's server crash? Time to start another one. Here are a few photos from one of the best kept secrets in Manhattan.







NJ Palisades - John D. Rockefeller Jr. bought all the land across from the Cloisters to preserve the view.


Dyckman St. underpass


November 18th, 2003, 03:04 PM
What's the building in the NJ pic?

Who owns the land now? Still in the family?

November 18th, 2003, 03:23 PM
I have to go there. My mom said it's creepy, but I think it's fascinating.

November 18th, 2003, 03:40 PM
It always reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.

November 18th, 2003, 04:15 PM
What's the building in the NJ pic?

Who owns the land now? Still in the family?

The building was once a Catholic orphanage, but is now owned by St. Peter's College. I think there still is an adjacent convent. Anyway, it's the only private land left on the NJ palisades north of Ft. Lee. The rest is owned by NY and NJ - the Palisades Interstate Park.

November 19th, 2003, 10:21 AM

March 19th, 2004, 11:16 PM
For Robinegg and other folks who seek further info about the Cloisters. Two interior pages from the Metropolitan Museum of Art web site:

Programs, Directions and Hours (http://www.metmuseum.org/events/ev_cloisters.asp?HomePageLink=collections_cloister s_l)

The Collection at the Cloisters (http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/department.asp?dep=7)

March 21st, 2004, 06:23 PM
Thank you!

March 21st, 2004, 09:54 PM
How old is the structure?

March 22nd, 2004, 12:03 AM
Excerpted from content found on the Metropolitan Museum of Art website (cited above):

"The Cloisters, which celebrated its sixtieth anniversary in 1998, is named for the portions of five medieval French cloisters—Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert (late 12th century) (http://www.metmuseum.org/collections/view1.asp?dep=7&full=0&item=25%2E120%2E1%2D%2E134) , Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigorre, and Froville—that were incorporated into the modern museum building....

"The new museum building was designed by Charles Collens (1873–1956), the architect of New York City's Riverside Church, in a simplified, paraphrased medieval style, incorporating and reconstructing the cloister elements salvaged by Barnard....
The Cloisters was formally dedicated on May 10, 1938."

June 17th, 2006, 12:22 PM
June 17, 2006
At the Cloisters, a Major Stained-Glass Restoration Project

Slide Show: Getting a Clearer Look at a Museum's Stained Glass (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2006/06/16/arts/20060617_CLOISTERS_SLIDESHOW_1.html)

To the students touring the Cloisters on a recent spring morning, the hushed, almost monastic atmosphere of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's branch overlooking the Hudson River in Fort Tryon Park seemed unchanging. All the timeless stars were in place, from the exquisitely painted "Annunciation Triptych" to an intricately carved 12th-century ivory cross, from a richly illuminated book of hours to the fabled unicorn tapestries.

Yet for eight years, curators, conservators, lighting experts and stonemasons have been methodically making small but significant improvements to the five medieval cloisters that were fashioned into a museum in 1938. Now they have an updated climate-control system, subtler lighting and seamless repairs to the stone facade. In the conservation laboratory, an addition tucked away in the basement four years ago, a full-time conservator is working on the museum's extensive collection of medieval sculptures.

"Rather than shutting the museum down, we've been going gallery by gallery," said Peter Barnet, the Met's curator in charge of medieval art and the Cloisters. "We've essentially tried to restore it so that it looks as it originally did." Mr. Barnet is overseeing the $24 million restoration and renovation project; half the funds come from the city, the other half from private donations.

With the delicate repairs under way, Mr. Barnet and his team have been slowly rearranging art and objects, displaying new acquisitions for the first time and trying to make the picturesque site more inviting. A cafe has been added off the Glass Gallery, and audio guides are now available in English, French, Spanish and German, as well as an English version for children.

The most noticeable addition by far, however, is just beginning to become visible. A wall of windows in the Early Gothic Hall that face west overlooking the Hudson has been carefully restored and given an exterior protective glazing in preparation for the addition of 14 panels of mainly 13th-and 14th-century stained-glass windows. Some windows are new acquisitions; others were purchased by the Met as long as 30 years ago, but are only now being restored and readied for installation.

By the end of the month, half the windows will be in place. This new installation has been designed to be adaptable: the stained-glass portions, which are inserted within the larger windows, can be removed, allowing the collection to be rotated.

The Early Gothic Hall closed in 2002 so stonemasons could repair the walls and remove a whitewash applied in the 1970's that curators said had a deadening effect on the sculptures exhibited there. On the north wall is a 14th-century grisaille stained-glass window, which until recently had been in storage. A late-13th-century life-size Virgin, among the most important sculptures made for the Strasbourg Cathedral in France, now stands by the north wall.

The Early Gothic Hall reopened in March, but it is far from finished. Work on the stained glass continues, back in a conservation laboratory at the Met's main building. There, Drew Anderson, an impish 42-year-old Scotsman, has been working full time for two years on windows from some of the greatest Gothic buildings of Europe.

"The Met has the second-largest museum collection of stained glass in the world, after the V & A," said Mr. Anderson, referring to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, where he worked until the Met hired him away.

To begin the Cloisters project, Mr. Anderson photographed every window earmarked for the Early Gothic Hall. He scanned these images into a computer, using software that lets him compare them to earlier pictures and spot changes in their condition.

He has recorded his findings, describing any corrosion and deterioration of the glass and lead, and previous restoration efforts. "These are notes for generations to come," Mr. Anderson said. He also makes a rubbing of each piece of a window on tracing paper and numbers all the parts.

Although stained-glass conservation is often considered a poor cousin to painting conservation, the techniques and general philosophy are the same.

"At all costs I try to be as least-invasive as possible," Mr. Anderson said. "It's a dangerous attitude to say a window is really dirty, because this is not about trying to make the glass look as it originally did but to stop the deterioration." Stained glass can often be more fragile than paintings, and in both media overcleaning puts an object at risk. In the case of glass, too much cleaning can weaken the fired-on paint.

"Originally these windows were functional, to keep the elements out, so many of the early windows were simply plugged with anything available, like other fragments of old glass," Mr. Anderson said. Over time these additions may alter and confuse the original design.

Early Gothic windows were created not just to be functional, but also to be "read" by illiterate peasants. "They were a tool for teaching commoners the ways of the church," Mr. Anderson said. "They were intended to be seen from far away, to tell a story."

On one portion of a worktable in Mr. Anderson's studio are colorful pieces of glass that form two figures: St. Martin of Tours and the Virgin. Carefully laid out on numbered tracing paper, the pieces are missing the lead that generally binds figures in a stained-glass window.

The figures are part of what was once a larger window — from the cathedral in Tours, France — bought for the Cloisters by John D. Rockefeller Jr. in 1937. According to historians and curators, the figures were not originally placed together, but were joined well before the Met acquired the window.

As Mr. Anderson has arranged them, the richly colored glass pieces resemble a giant jigsaw puzzle. Removing the lead is "not something we normally do," he was careful to explain. "But windows of this age have undergone many restorations."

Before the advent of adhesives, the only way to repair such windows was to use more lead. So over the years, windows like these often became very confusing — almost like a big spider's web — and no longer legible. "I'm trying to return this one to something like its original so that the figures can be seen clearly," Mr. Anderson said.

After cleaning and repairing the glass, he will replace the old lead with new lead, hewing as closely as possible to what he believes is the original shape.

Once the restoration is complete, the installation of the windows in their new surroundings is an equally complex process. Because Gothic windows are particularly susceptible to moisture, which can cause pitting to their surface, the installers purposely leave a gap on the top and bottom of each window. This allows warm air to circulate, avoiding condensation. "This creates a chimney effect, by drawing warm air from the inside of the building," Mr. Anderson said.

Often it takes years of discussion and debate among curators and conservators before a stained-glass window is ready for installation, Mr. Anderson added. The final verdict, for example, has not been reached on another of the Cloisters' windows, "King Louis IX Carrying the Crown of Thorns." It is a richly patterned design originally from the same cathedral as the "St. Martin of Tours and the Virgin" window.

The "Crown of Thorns" window lies intact on another portion of the worktable in Mr. Anderson's studio, awaiting a decision from Mr. Anderson and Mr. Barnet on how much work needs to be done. "We still have to settle on a course of treatment once the lead is removed," Mr. Anderson said. "This window still needs a closer look."

Only by closely examining the individual pieces of glass will Mr. Anderson be able to tell how much repair and cleaning will be necessary before reinstalling the window at the Cloisters. "It's often more puzzling than just putting the pieces together," he said. "Each window tells its own story. And the more you work on them, the more you find out."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

June 24th, 2006, 08:31 AM
A great way to spend a Sunday out of town without ever leaving Manhattan: brunch at the New Leaf Cafe followed by a visit to the Cloisters.

July 9th, 2006, 10:06 PM
I visited the place today. Truly a hidden gem - both the collection, and the physical setting. Here are a couple pics:

http://images1.snapfish.com/34756%3C%3B66%7Ffp343%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A%3 B%3EWSNRCG%3D32338%3B%3B%3A453%3A%3Cnu0mrj

http://images1.snapfish.com/34756%3C%3B66%7Ffp339%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A%3 B%3EWSNRCG%3D32338%3B%3B%3A4939%3Bnu0mrj

One of several beautiful views from Fort Tryon Park:

http://images1.snapfish.com/34756%3C%3B66%7Ffp345%3Enu%3D3247%3E4%3A5%3E9%3A%3 B%3EWSNRCG%3D32338%3B%3B%3A4%3A348nu0mrj

July 9th, 2006, 10:19 PM
I often give city tours to tourists and Fort Tryon Park and The Cloisters are always included in it.. Everybody is amazed by the beauty of the park..

July 9th, 2006, 11:07 PM
That's good to hear. I really think it's too secluded for its own good. The setting is unlike any other in all of New York. I don't know quite how to describe it, but I can't help but think there's something very San Franciscan about it.

July 26th, 2006, 07:58 PM
I can't help but think there's something very San Franciscan about it.
Secluded and lonely, like Hitchcock's San Francisco in Vertigo.
Old religious structure, like Mission San Francisco or Mission San Juan Bautisto (with cloister, also featured in Vertigo).
Approached through beautiful but slightly out-of-the-way park, like Golden Gate Park.
Dramatic scenery and lengthy vistas, as everywhere in San Francisco and the Coast.
Reminds me of Hearst Castle: extravagantly accumulated treasures.
New York's most romantic place. Air of spirituality. And a touch of doom?

July 26th, 2006, 10:23 PM
Get professional help immediately. You're starting to think like me.

July 26th, 2006, 10:50 PM
Get professional help immediately. You're starting to think like me.
Either that or...you know what they say about great minds...

August 17th, 2006, 02:15 PM
Am I right in thinking that Clint Eastwood starred in "Coogans Bluff" which had a lot of scenes shot in the Cloisters.

September 18th, 2006, 12:57 PM
There are beautiful shots of the Cloisters on OTI today:


click on the preview photo and go to images.

September 18th, 2006, 01:06 PM
There are beautiful shots of the Cloisters on OTI today:


click on the preview photo and go to images.
You could make the case that this is the most beautiful single place in New York City.

September 2nd, 2010, 06:05 AM
New York Send-Off | The Unicorn Next Door


Medieval treasures are to be found around every corner at the Cloisters,
thanks to the ingenuity and bank accounts of some enterprising Americans.

Go for the unicorn (http://www.metmuseum.org/explore/Unicorn/hunt_unicorn_transcript_2.htm), but be sure to give yourself plenty of time to poke around and see the many marvels of the Cloisters (http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/the_cloisters), that medieval chapel on the hill built and stocked at the turn of the 20th century by some enterprising Americans with a passion for art and plenty of money. I won’t go into the history of the Cloisters here; you can read all about it on its Web site, or in a handsome book published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Cloisters is a branch of the Met) and Yale University Press. And I won’t describe the actual cloisters, the walkways that would have been in the center of a monastery, open to the sky, letting nature in, but private, protected from the hubbub of the world. Go. See them for yourself.

I’d been to the Cloisters to see the famous unicorn tapestries once, several years ago, when as a Mother’s Day offering, my family let me choose the plan for the day. We went, loved the unicorns and the cloister gardens, but our girls were small then, so I didn’t linger. And so many readers suggested the Cloisters as an unmissable New York experience that I decided I had to go back.

For me, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is a quick walk across Central Park. To get to the Cloisters, I took the A Train. My companions on this adventure were the ones with the quick walks. Marcus Yam, a photographer who has been an intern at The Times this summer and who has been shooting photographs for Send-Off posts, and his wife, Jenny, popped over, and my friend Holland Cotter, an art critic for The Times who dwells in the Cloisters every chance he gets, strolled down from Inwood.

Marcus is from Malaysia, Jenny from a small village in China, Holland from Boston. The treasures in the Cloisters are from all over Europe: France, Spain, Germany, Austria. Large fragments of medieval cloisters were installed on the hilltop, and inspired the design of the current structure. (Charles Collens, who designed Riverside Church, another unmissable New York sight, was the architect.)

We wandered from one intricately sculptured marvel, or beautifully painted Madonna, or fabulously arched chapel, or illuminated manuscript, or reliquary, to the next. “Look at this!” we each kept enthusing as we came upon yet another surprise, tiny or giant. There was plenty of Islamic imagery side by side with Christian symbology. “Wow,” Holland said, upon examining a 10th-century pyx, with birds, lions and gazelles. “This is the real Islamic McCoy.” (Let’s pause here for a commercial: Read Holland’s own eloquent tour of the Cloisters (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/21/arts/21manh.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=cotter%20cloisters&st=cse).)

Holland and Marcus put their heads together over some 9th- and 10th-century treasures from Spain, deciphering the stew of religious symbols they bore.

“Spain! Now that was truly a melting pot,” Holland said. There were Muslims, Christians, Jews, all living side by side.”

Likewise, it’s the mix of artifacts that makes the Cloisters special, he said. “In French museums, you get French art. In Spain, Spanish art. Here, you get this thing that’s so American, really, putting all these things together.”

Jenny moved to New York when she was 7; Marcus, who is 22, has just moved here, to be with her. He, like my young French friend Diane, is seeing the city for the first time.

He’s seen quite a bit of it already on assignments and through the lens of his camera.
What do you like best about New York so far? I asked him after Holland had peeled off to go home, and Marcus and Jenny and I were strolling in the growing dusk through gardens along the Hudson.

“I like everything,” he said. “ I like it that the whole world is here.”


April 5th, 2013, 07:23 AM
Cloistered Upbringing

Corporate headquarters threatens Palisades views.

by Nicole Anderson

HOK's design for LG Electronics USA. Courtesy HOK and Neoscape

The Cloisters museum and gardens, the Metropolitan Museum’s outpost for Medieval architecture and art in northern Manhattan, faces the tree-lined cliffs of the Palisades across the Hudson River in New Jersey. The view is picturesque, uninterrupted by the built environment. But soon, a 143-foot-high office complex designed by HOK could rise above the treetops—a change that some say will spoil the idyllic natural view.

LG Electronics USA’s plan to build an eight-story headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, has sparked protests from environmental and local advocacy groups, the Met, and Larry Rockefeller—whose grandfather donated four acres of land for the museum and park in New York and also purchased 700 acres along the cliffs on the other side of the river to keep the view unmarred.

“We were troubled by a project that would disregard 100 years of historic preservation of the Palisades,” said Mark Izeman, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
LG vice president John Taylor said that the headquarters is set a quarter mile back from the Palisades and “isn’t a tower,” but rather a “horizontal 8-story office building, which has gone through a very open and transparent [approval] process.”

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/palisades_01.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/palisades_01.jpg)

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/palisades_03.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/palisades_03.jpg)

Proponent (left) and opponent (right) renderings of how the project would look.
Courtesy HOK & Neoscape / Courtesy Protect the Palisades

More than a year ago, Englewood Cliffs Board of Adjustment granted LG a variance to exceed the 35-foot height limit in the area, a move later challenged in court. The property was subsequently rezoned to again allow for additional height, and then later approved for development by the New Jersey State Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Protection last fall. Headquartered in Englewood for the last 25 years, LG is a major taxpayer in Bergen County. Taylor anticipates that this new headquarters will bring a significant investment to the region and allow LG to more than double it employees by 2016.

“We are listening to their concerns and looking at a variety of options,” said Taylor. “They make it sound easy to make the building shorter. It is not that easy. We’re not ruling anything out at this point. To make modifications to the design would mean extending the time table for a redesign and more importantly and more risky is restarting the approval process.”

Several groups and individuals are taking action to prevent the new development from blemishing their much-loved views. The Met wrote a letter to LG requesting that they “reconsider the design.” Rockefeller, a trustee of the NRDC, spoke with LG officials to explain the significance of the landscape. Two Englewood residents along with several environmental groups—including Scenic Hudson, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs—filed lawsuits against the variance and rezoning. The two opposing parties, however, have agreed to meet with a neutral mediator in the next month.

“If the case can be settled, then that is an ideal solution,” said Hayley Carlock, the environmental advocacy attorney for Scenic Hudson.

LG has publically stood behind its plans. The company published a full-page advertisement, entitled “Englewood Cliffs is our Home,” in the Sunday edition of The Record in early February stating that their 493,000-square-foot headquarters, costing $300 million, will yield hundreds of construction jobs and lead to an expanded workforce and tax dollars for Bergen County.

“Some have suggested a false choice between jobs and the environment when LG can build a new headquarters and expand its number of employees at this location through a low-rise design,” said Izeman. “No one is suggesting they relocate somewhere else.”

Still, LG hopes to begin construction on the new campus this year once the lawsuits are sorted out, with construction wrapping up in 2016.


April 5th, 2013, 10:49 AM
Doesn't seem like the best move for a high-tech company to locate itself in a car-oriented office park.

April 6th, 2013, 12:52 AM
They should anchor a new tower in Manhattan.

April 6th, 2013, 12:54 AM
Doesn't seem like the best move for a high-tech company to locate itself in a car-oriented office park.

It's what high tech companies have historically done at the epicenter, Santa Clara County, CA, and the county seat in San Jose.

A just released report by the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), Shaping Downtown San Jose (http://www.spur.org/publications/library/article/shaping-downtown-san-jose).

April 7th, 2013, 09:28 AM
I'm surprised they would be so stubborn to push forward with this. Unless they have a really strong + compelling reason (they own the land, the land is super space-constrained, so building 8 floors is necessary, etc.), you would normally expect a consumer-oriented company building its own regional HQ to be very sensitive to bad publicity. I would have assumed they'd have backed down given the hubbub - doesn't seem like a good PR move by LG here. And while I'm no NIMBY, with something as special as the Cloisters + Palisades view, this certainly turns me off to them - given the choice of similar LG or competitors' products, I'd definitely buy the competitor's products now.

April 7th, 2013, 10:23 AM
Stroika said: "I'm surprised they would be so stubborn to push forward with this. Unless they have a really strong + compelling reason...."

Also, this issue is not at all about about 'good architectural design' - but what seems to me nothing more than a crafty/calculating end run around what was to be a 'preserved scenic' view of the palisades - one I often enjoy while walking the northwest cliff trails of upper Manhattan.

Talk about 'barbarians at the gate' - the imagery of that building rising at the edge of the 'preserved' forest cliffs of the Palisades is the perfect imagery of our current place/time.

Think of the 'enlightened' approach to 'development' that was taken when those cliffs were set aside simply for the beauty and 'quality of life' the provided : commerce, back then a least, showed some restraint.

The calculous of greed is the "strong + compelling" reason to "push forward" on this project, or any project: just make 'the numbers' , do the math, as the saying goes.

Today, the 'qualitative' concerns of humanity are no match for the 'quantitative' interests of todays high tech industries.

Actually, the 'barbarians' are not at-the-gate: they have torn it down.

April 7th, 2013, 07:35 PM
If LG has enough cash, they should not only push it, but do it right.

Regulations like what they have on Rt 1 in California should be applied here. Fusion with the surroundings, not redefinition of them.