Medieval Marvels: The Cloisters, Manhattan (Part Two)

Marina Chetner

The Cloisters is “the crowning achievement of American museology.” ~ Germain Bazin, former director of the Musée du Louvre in Paris.

Considerable effort goes into piecing a puzzle together. Yet the challenge for architect Charles Collens was far greater, especially since some of his pieces were missing. Not only that, but his task called for combining five incomplete sets and assembling them into one. The result of this feat was realized in 1938 upon completion of the structure; one that wouldn’t look out of place in the Middle Ages.

Collens was the visionary behind The Cloisters – a museum and gardens designed around the architectural elements of five French monasteries dating back to the twelfth through fifteenth century. Loosely based on prototypes presented by medieval monasteries, this is the nation’s largest museum dedicated to medieval art.

Prior to being commissioned by John D. Rockefeller for its conception, Collens noted:

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