The Cloisters

The Cloisters

Located at the northernmost tip of Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River, the Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art showcasing the art and architecture of medieval Europe. This museum, which is situated over four acres at a high point in Fort Tryon Park, offers spectacular views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades as well as stunning gardens. Visitors will enjoy an idyllic oasis from the hustle and bustle of New York City.

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.

Garden Tours

Even though the location of this picturesque destination is out of the way, the Cloisters is a popular attraction drawing thousands of visitors each year to rustic Fort Tryon Park. The works of art within the galleries aren’t the only masterpieces to admire at the Cloisters- the lush gardens at three of the cloisters have been planted using information from garden documents and poetry dating back to medieval times. Visitors can explore the gardens at their own leisure or take a guided tour which is free with admission to the museum. Horticulture enthusiasts can see what’s in bloom ahead of time by checking out The Cloisters garden blog, The Medieval Garden Enclosed, which also details upcoming events and happenings at the gardens.

Visiting the Cloisters in Northern Manhattan

The Cloisters Museum & Gardens is located at 99 Margaret Corbin Drive in Fort Tryon Park, New York City. For more information on visiting the Cloisters including hours of operation, admission and directions call 212-923-3700 or visit The Cloisters official website.