Cloistered View


This pristine view is courtesy of the Cloisters Museum. Located in northern Manhattan, this branch of the Metropolitan Museum holds a collection of thousands of artworks and artifacts from medieval Europe. The museum hybridizes modern structures with pieces of five abbeys sent from Europe in the 1930s.

John D. Rockefeller apparently had a thing for the Middle Ages. In developing this museum he bought and donated a large art collection and enhanced it with his own personal pieces, including the famous and amazing tapestries that clearly provide evidence for the existence of unicorns! He also developed Fort Tryon Park, including 4 acres for the museum. To protect the amazing views from this spectacular site, he also donated around 700 acres of land across the river in New Jersey.

I took this photo from one of the outdoor gardens of the Cloisters as the sun was setting. The sky was orange and purple, the Hudson River briefly glowed electric blue through a net of branches as the last light played on the water, and a lone streetlight formed a single dot of yellow in the foreground. I was amazed at the darkness of Manhattan in the foreground and the New Jersey Palisades beyond, a surreal wildness. The George Washington Bridge draped over the darkening skyline, and the few visible car lights only hinted at the frenetic pace- 106 million vehicles a year travel back and forth between NY and NJ, the world’s busiest bridge. As I stood looking out from the Cloisters, I felt the serenity of that spot, and how its origin as a place of quiet and seclusion had amazingly been preserved here in the most populous city in the US. I imagine Rockefeller would be happy to know the museum he started to plan almost 100 years ago still provides such a peaceful perspective.