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Thread: The Cloisters

  1. #1
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default The Cloisters

    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

    Last edited by NYatKNIGHT; August 17th, 2006 at 04:26 PM. Reason: Reposted original photos

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    What's the building in the NJ pic?

    Who owns the land now? Still in the family?

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    I have to go there. My mom said it's creepy, but I think it's fascinating.

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    It always reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by billyblancoNYC
    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.

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    Thanks.

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    For Robinegg and other folks who seek further info about the Cloisters. Two interior pages from the Metropolitan Museum of Art web site:


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    Thank you!

  9. #9

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    How old is the structure?

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    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), 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."

  11. #11

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    June 17, 2006
    At the Cloisters, a Major Stained-Glass Restoration Project
    By CAROL VOGEL

    Slide Show: Getting a Clearer Look at a Museum's Stained Glass

    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

  12. #12

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    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.
    Last edited by ablarc; July 21st, 2006 at 11:55 AM.

  13. #13
    The Dude Abides
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    I visited the place today. Truly a hidden gem - both the collection, and the physical setting. Here are a couple pics:





    One of several beautiful views from Fort Tryon Park:


  14. #14

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    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..

  15. #15
    The Dude Abides
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    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.

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