The Met Cloisters | Art and Architecture of Medieval Europe

by Denise Marie

Located at the northernmost tip of Manhattan overlooking the Hudson River, The Met 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.

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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 Met 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 Met 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 Met 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 Met Cloisters official website.

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The Frick Collection | Premier Painting, Sculpture & Decorative Art Museum

by Denise Marie

Some of the most outstanding art galleries are located in New York City and The Frick Collection is no exception. This small art museum is the legacy of Henry Clay Frick, a coke and steel magnate who used the fortune he gained at the turn of the 20th century to amass a stunning collection of European artwork. These masterpieces were housed in his private Fifth Avenue mansion that dates back to 1914.

When Frick died in 1919, he bequeathed his home, the furnishings and his masterpieces to establish an art gallery for the public, with the goal of encouraging the appreciation for fine arts. Today this beautiful and well preserved French-style mansion houses The Frick Collection, an outstanding collection of Western paintings, sculptures and furnishings displayed within 16 galleries. The permanent collection features celebrated works by many Old Masters acquired by Henry Clay Frick, as well as several more major pieces added to the collection by Frick’s daughter Helen Clay Frick who expanded the museum extensively after her father passed away.

The Frick Collection, which originally housed 131 paintings, has now grown to showcase a collection of more than 1100 works of art which span from the Renaissance era to the late nineteenth century. The Frick Art Reference Library, founded in 1920, is renowned for its extensive auction and exhibition catalogues.

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A Showcase of Greats from El Greco to Goya

The Frick Collection includes renowned paintings by revered and important European artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn, Thomas Gainsborough, Titian and Francisco Goya. Art lovers can take in incredible works such as Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini’s St. Francis in Ecstasy, Piero della Francesca’s St. John the Evangelist and Diego Velázquez’s portrait of King Philip IV. An entire room is dedicated to French painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard’s sensual, sweeping series of large wall paintings The Progress of Love. Masters like El Greco, Degas and Johannes Vermeer, whose painting Mistress and Maid is the last one purchased by Frick, are just some of the artists whose works are showcased in the museum.

In addition to the stunning paintings by some of the world’s greatest artists, the museum’s permanent collection of artwork also features important sculptures (including a collection of world-renowned small bronzes) 18th century fine French furniture, works on paper, carpets, porcelains, enamels, clocks, textiles and other fine quality pieces.

Special temporary exhibitions take place each year at the museum, showcasing additional works to the museum’s permanent collection. Visitors can search The Frick Collection’s online database of the museum’s permanent pieces, which also provides weekly updated information on which artwork is currently on display, as not all pieces are on view all the time.

Fifth Avenue Splendid

Henry Clay Frick commissioned architects Carrère & Hastings to build his mansion in 1910 after purchasing a site at Fifth Avenue and East 70th Street. Construction of the property took place between 1913 and 1914, and the wealthy industrialist spent $5,000,000 on his home. By the time it was finished, the luxurious mansion spanned an entire city block.

Visitors to The Frick Collection will not only enjoy a rich visual display of artwork but they will also experience what an early 20th century Fifth Avenue mansion was like. This opulent residence features a fountain under an airy skylight in an enclosed courtyard, and the exterior is surrounded by picturesque private gardens and magnolia trees. This carefully preserved residence is decorated with 18th century French furniture, striking Italian bronzes and delicate Chinese porcelain vases, offering a beautiful, intimate and idyllic setting to admire this art exhibit.

In addition to his passion for art, Henry Clay Frick was also an ardent music lover and museum hosts a busy schedule of classical concert performances.

Visiting The Frick Collection in New York City

The Frick Collection is located within the Henry Clay Frick House on 1 East 70th Street at Fifth Avenue, next to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For entrance fees, hours or more information on upcoming exhibitions call 212-288-0700 or visit the museum’s official website. The Frick Art Reference Library is located around the corner from The Frick Collection at 10 East 71st Street, between Madison and Fifth Avenues.

Location: at 1 East 70th Street at Fifth Avenue, New York City, New York
Phone: 212-288-0700

Click to visit The Frick Collection official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.

The Noguchi Museum – by the celebrated Japanese American sculptor

by Denise Marie

This New York art museum was founded in 1985 by the celebrated Japanese American sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988). Located in the Long Island City area of Queens, the two-story Noguchi Museum spans 24,000 square-feet and houses the many works of this influential artist including his sculptures, furniture and interior designs as well as drawings and architectural models.

The Building and Sculpture Garden

The Noguchi Museum is the perfect place to visit if you are seeking serenity in hectic New York. Housed within a converted factory building, Noguchi’s works are showcased in thirteen galleries and in the outdoor sculpture garden which the museum surrounds. The stark industrial space of this former photo-engraving plant offers a dramatic backdrop for Noguchi’s works. An extensive renovation in 2004 revamped the temperature control of the building, allowing it to stay open year-round. The Noguchi Museum also features an education center as well as a museum shop and cafe.

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Works on Display

The Noguchi Museum’s permanent collection features a stunning selection of his sculptures in a variety of materials including metal, clay, wood and stone. Visitors will experience a broad range of works from light sculptures to portrait heads to Italian marbles, as well as a selection of theatre sets, drawings, models for public works and gardens and architectural designs. The Noguchi Museum (which works together with the Isamu Noguchi Foundation in Japan) also hosts a program of visiting exhibitions and loans out works to other galleries for special shows.

Interior Design

Renowned for his creative use of space and desire to make sculpture relevant in day to day life, The Noguchi Museum also houses a special gallery dedicated to showcasing the artist’s work in furniture and interior design. Noguchi designed his first table in the 1930’s, which was commissioned by the then-president of the Museum of Modern Art for his home. The artist went on to develop many innovative furniture designs and contemporary interiors in the 1940’s. Visitors to the museum may be surprised at the several design pieces they are familiar with.

About the Artist

Isamu Noguchi was devoted to making sculpture a relevant and useful part of our world, not just static objects to be admired in galleries. He designed several sculpture gardens and children’s playgrounds in his biomorphic style of design which focuses on the power of natural life. Noguchi’s sculptures, gardens and playgrounds are points of interest in many cities in the U.S. and around the world including the Japanese Garden at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the infamous Red Cube which stands outside the HSBC Building in Manhattan and children’s playgrounds in Atlanta, Georgia and Yokohama, Japan.

Education at the Noguchi Museum

Family programs are available at the museum including Open Studio (see website for dates and times), where families with children under 11 can explore the galleries and then create their own art with the help of museum educators. Families can drop in for Open Studio; no advance registration is required. The museum also offers an Art for Families program (families with children aged 5-11) and Art for Tots (families with children 2-4).

Visiting The Noguchi Museum

The Noguchi Museum is located at 9-01 33rd Road (between Vernon Boulevard and 10th Street) in Long Island City, New York. A gift store and café are located on-site.

Location: at 9-01 33rd Rd (between Vernon Boulevard and 10th St) in Long Island City, New York
Phone: 718-204-7088

Click here to visit The Noguchi Museum official website.

Note: This information can change without notice. Confirm all details directly with the company in question.