A few weeks ago, my Mom came to visit us in New York; we had a lovely week and got to explore so much together. My mom had been asking me to visit The Cloisters — a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art — for a long time. The museum and surrounding gardens are situated in upper Manhattan in Fort Tryon Park, an approximately 25-minute drive from downtown Manhattan along the West Side Highway, and about 45 minutes by train to 190th street, taking the A train.
The Cloisters opened in 1938 and is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. It was constructed using pieces of many buildings, both domestic and religious, largely from the twelfth through fifteenth century. The building and gardens are part of the museum’s collection as they are treasures themselves, as much as the items housed within them.
The Cloisters has a beautiful location overlooking the Hudson River on land that was generously donated by John D. Rockerfeller Jr. to New York City. The building and environment remind you of stepping back in time, and, to ensure that, the view to the other side of the river remains largely undeveloped. In 1901, J. Pierpont Morgan, another roof America’s early tycoons, purchased twelve miles of the New Jersey Palisades across the river to preserve the cliffs and shoreline. Then, in 1933, Rockefeller purchased and donated about seven hundred additional acres of the Palisades' plateau to preserve the view from The Cloisters.
We were lucky that day. Besides us, there were only some school classes and a guided tour, which made it very quite and peaceful that morning. The gardens were very beautiful and lovely to hang out within.
Purchasing tickets to the Cloisters includes same-day admission to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s main building at 5th Avenue and 81st street. My mom and I are both “time optimists” — and very energetic — so we decided that we could do one more attraction before heading back downtown. This may have been a little ambitious as the Met is big, very crowded and you could spend a whole day there easily. I wanted to visit The American Wing, which wasn’t easy to get to as many of the rooms were blocked because of the big upcoming Met Gala show. We did enjoy the Temple of Dendur from ancient Egypt and the Arms and Armor room, always a favorite with kids.