All Things Medieval
A significant portion of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval art collection is located at the Cloisters, with one curatorial department in charge of the art at both locations. The Cloisters houses portions of five cloisters that were transported from medieval French monasteries and reconstructed in New York City. (Cloisters are covered walkways which run alongside the walls of a building, with an open colonnade on one side that faces an enclosed quadrangle that serves as a gathering place.)
Cloisters are typically found in religious edifices such as monasteries, convents and churches as well as university buildings, providing sheltered access as people move from one area to another. The cloisters which have been incorporated into this museum also act as passageways for visitors moving from one gallery to the next, offering a unique setting to experience the approximately 3000 works of art from medieval Europe housed within the museum. In addition to the cloisters, the grounds feature a chapel, a 12th century chapter house and gardens planted according to medieval horticultural records.
The artwork within the galleries dates from the ninth to the sixteenth century and the collection includes tapestries, works of metal, sculpture and stained-glass windows. Highlights include “The Unicorn Tapestries,” a set of seven separate hangings that were a gift to the museum by John D. Rockefeller Jr., along with many other pieces from his personal collection. These tapestries date back to the late Middle Ages and are beautifully woven with silk and threaded with silver.