Going to the Cloisters Museum was a very interesting experience for me. Just a week before going there with the class, I had been to the surrounding park for a miniature one-day renaissance faire that is held there annually. When I was walking around outside, I was so intrigued by the building. It really looks like somebody built a castle right in the middle of the park hundreds of years ago. So going there with the class, I was pretty excited and ready to go inside.
When we got there however, this man told us that we weren’t allowed inside because we got there really early before our tour was scheduled. He argued with Professor Baxter and told all of us we would just have to wait outside. Professor Baxter went inside to talk to the manager/owner, whoever it was that could give us the authority to enter. When she came back, we had absolutely no problems.
The Cloisters Museum is so amazing because even though you know that it is a more modern-built building, there are bits and pieces of it that are actual historic buildings! When you look at the building from the outside and actually pay attention to the details, you will notice that there are some sections where the color of the stone changes from dark to light or vice versa. This is where bits of older buildings have been reassembled as part of the newer structure. That’s just so AWESOME that they actually brought buildings over from Europe to remake here in the middle of NYC.
Once you go inside, you need to look everywhere to get the full experience of the museum. There are all different types of architecture throughout the building, real or simulated. Paintings hand on the walls, and are even part of some of the walls! These are called frescos, which are pretty much murals and are really cool. There’s differently shaped windows and some have scenes of stained glass inside of them. Lots of art in the museum tells a story.
My favorite room was the “unicorn room” where a series of tapestries was hung. These tapestries told the story of the hunt of a unicorn. A group of maybe five to ten men accompanied by several different dogs the unicorn and wounded it while the unicorn tried to fight back, kicking people and dogs! These were absolutely beautiful tapestries and were even more stunning when they were first made, before they began to fade.
One of my favorite aspects of the museum was the open courtyards that were scattered throughout. They had statues, fountains, and different types of plants that would have existed in gardens during medieval/renaissance times. I just thought stepping out into the open air was so refreshing after being inside for a while. Also, if you stepped out on the terrace, you could see across the river into the more wooded area of the park instead of the city. It really felt like you were in a medieval castle.