Skip to content

Servants of the Lord & the Virgin of Matará

Catholic Culture

The Cloisters

Medieval Sacred Art in NYC​

Sacred art and architecture form a special part of Catholic culture.  An exceptional period of innovation in devotional art took place in Western Europe during the Middle Ages.  While medieval shrines and monasteries can still be found throughout Europe, there is nothing quite comparable in the New World though new buildings have risen as honorable imitations of the originals.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Public Domain.

One unique place to see real medieval architecture outside of Europe is The Cloisters, a special branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art overlooking the Hudson River.  Chapels, chapter rooms, and cloisters were purchased in Europe, dismantled, and reassembled in New York City as sections of a 20th century design to unite them into a single building dedicated to medieval art. In addition to the architecture and medieval gardens, the museum contains statues, triptychs, tapestries, manuscripts, sacred vessels and various items of devotion.  This museum is an outstanding collection of the art and architecture of Catholic culture.  Below are links in order to learn more about making a visit, as well as a selection of the many videos of guided tours and recent lectures made by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for those who cannot visit in person.

To learn about visiting The Cloisters click here.

The Medieval Garden Enclosed, a blog following the museum’s medieval gardens and vintage plants

The Glories of Medieval Art

The half-hour video, Glories of Medieval Art (27:29), was filmed in 1989 and provides an excellent introduction to the Cloisters by offering a guided tour of many of its greatest pieces as narrated by Philippe de Montebello, director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1977 to 2008.

Please enable flash to view this media.Download the flash player.

A shorter introductory film made more recently is Behind the Scenes with the Director (11:29) in which Thomas P. Campbell, Museum Director, interviews the curator Peter Barnet about the content and background of The Cloisters.

Please enable flash to view this media.Download the flash player.

On May 19, 2013, The Cloisters hosted a day of lectures by prominent scholars as part of the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the museum.  Recordings of these four lectures are available as part of the service of education to the public:

How the Cloisters Came to Be (25:14)

Preserving the Immaterial (25:04)

Please enable flash to view this media.Download the flash player.

Major additions to the Cloisters collection (18:45)

Search for the Unicorn (19:47)