Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Cloisters.

    I didn't know what The Cloisters was when I agreed to go.  My friend Emily was visiting and said "I want to see The Cloisters.  Want to come?"  Of course!  Sounds great!  Turns out, The Cloisters is a pretty amazing museum that's about as far north in Manhattan as you can go and still be in Manhattan.  It takes a little while to get there--the A train, while express, still has to follow the law of physics!  But it feels like you're in the middle of the woods, even though you're still in the city.
     The Cloisters is a museum of Medieval Art.  This also means that a whole bunch of it is religious art--a lot of Pietas and virgins and immaculate conceptions and other pieces of medieval devotions.  It's amazing how well preserved the art stayed after all these years.  I would assume in 500 years, my dogs playing poker print will not be as well preserved.  Even without the religious devotion behind it, it's quite interesting to see the art and to imagine how the knights and medievaliets lived and loved and arted.
     The most fascinating part of it for me was how the Cloisters building itself was part of the museum.  Doorways from castles and important medieval structures were in the museum as actual doorways.  The rooms of the museum were reconstructed in the various medieval time they were meant to represent.  It was like visiting a whole bunch of castles at once, but with heat!
     There were a few school group tours there during our visit, and I hate to say they dampened the experience, but they did a bit.  Kids and medieval art?  Come on!  Also, I don't know a lot about curriculum, but I'm guessing it was a private catholic school, or someone's gonna get fired.  Or the descriptions of the art were very vague:  "This is of a lady named Mary, and some people who knew her.  Notice the lines.  Next!"
     The Cloisters were a good time.  If you do plan to make the trek, make sure you have a serious few hours carved out of your schedule, mainly for transport.  The walk through the garden leading up to it is also lovely, even if it's raining.  Also, I like saying the word cloister.

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