Saturday, August 31, 2013

12. ... a visit to The Cloisters

The Cloisters museum and gardens is located in Fort Tryon Park in the northern tip of Manhattan and is the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe.

The site looks across the Hudson River to the Palisades ( row of cliffs ) of New Jersey. 

Set in a green parkland and surrounded by gardens and forests
" ... Much of the sculpture at The Cloisters was acquired by George Grey Barnard (1863–1938), a prominent American sculptor, and an avid collector and dealer of medieval art. Barnard opened his original Cloisters to the public in 1914.

Through the generosity of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874–1960), the Met acquired Barnard's Cloisters and most of its contents in 1925.
Rockefeller donated to New York City, and financed the conversion of, some 56 acres of land just north of Barnard's museum, which became Fort Tryon Park—approximately 4 acres of which was destined as the site for the new museum.

Following J. Pierpont Morgan's purchase of 12 miles of the New Jersey Palisades in 1901 to preserve the cliffs and shoreline from excessive quarrying, Rockefeller in 1933 donated some 700 additional acres of the Palisades' plateau to preserve the view across the River from The Cloisters. In addition to providing the grounds and building to house the Barnard collection, Rockefeller contributed works of art from his own collection and established an endowment for operations and future acquisitions ..." - quote from Met website.

The "castle fortress" was assembled from architectural elements, both domestic and religious, dating from the twelfth through the fifteenth century.

The building and its cloistered gardens are treasures in themselves and are really part of the collection housed within.

The Cloisters was first opened to the public in 1938.
The Cloisters' collection comprises approximately two thousand works of art from medieval Europe, including exquisite illuminated manuscripts, stained glass, metalwork, enamels, ivories, and tapestries.
Virgin and Child - painted limestone - France - 1350 
Triptych with the Passion of Christ - mother of pearl + wood + leather - South Germany - 1475 
House Altar Piece - oil + gold on wood -  Germany 1490
Altar Piece - Annunciation - work of Robert Campin - oil on oak - Netherlands - 1475 
Adoration of the Magi - Germany - 1507 
Scenes from the life of St. Augustine - oil + gilding on oak panel - South Flanders - 1490 
Enthroned Virgin and Child - paint + gilding on Lindenwood - Prague - 1345 
 Virgin and Child on base - alabaster - France - 1350
Altar Piece with Scenes from the Life of St. Andrew - tempera + gold on wood - Catalan - 1430
Unicorn Tapestries - wool, silk and silver wrapped thread  - South Netherlands - 1495
"... The seven individual hangings known as "The Unicorn Tapestries," are among the most beautiful and complex works of art from the late Middle Ages that survive. Luxuriously woven in fine wool and silk with silver and gilded threads, the tapestries vividly depict scenes associated with a hunt for the elusive, magical unicorn ..." 
One of the two gardens within the walls - this one featuring medicinal and culinary herbs commonly used  during medieval times. 
Virgin and Child - oil + gilding on Maple - Spain - 1280
My visit to The Cloisters took place on a very overcast rainy day - this added I must say to the Medieval atmosphere of this incredible museum.

Tomorrow - in complete contrast to today's posting - I am going to project you 700 years forwards to another incredible place on this planet of contrasts - Time Square New York City ... 

13. Times Square in New York City

New York Not at its Best, or Worst - but certainly at its Most ...!!!!

Now you may not believe this - but I have visited Times Square more often than I have visited the Met !!!! ... mind you, I don't dally there for as long as I do at my most bestie museum ... it seems though that I have to pass through there to get from one side of town to the other where all the "cultural" attractions are ... well that's my excuse anyway !!!

Times Squares on a quiet day ... 
There is even a viewing platform where you can sit and absorb the atmosphere !!!  
Madness- people moving in all directions 

... it is at the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue and 42nd Street - almost slap-bang in the centre of Manhattan - in what is known as the Theatre District.

  Dazzling  neon moving signs advertising just about everything imaginable  
Consumerism gone quite mad ...
It's not my most favourite site in NYC - but I am mesmerized by what it is - what it represents - what it stands for - and why does it attract so many people ?. And when you get there amongst the thousands of other sightseers -  it's kinda like - "... ok - I'm here now - what do I do next - oh I see, take some pics and leave ..." ... and folks that is exactly what I did !!! ...
This was a bride and groom having their pics taken in front of the Square ... 
The City even provides tables and chairs - just in case you might want to stay and picnic ... 
  Always in the background those double golden arches !!!
Ok we have arrived - now what do we do ??? 
There I am ( right of centre ) ... after my third visit to Times Square ...

After all that glare and noise and chaos, tomorrow we might return to the Met for something a bit more soothing ... 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

11. The Staten Island Ferry

One of the "must does" in NYC is a ride on the Staten Island Ferry - travelling from the bottom tip of Manhattan Island (Battery Point) across the bay to Staten Island.

This fleet of five non-vehicular ferries carries in the vicinity of 60,000 passengers per day - not including weekend days. There was no way of counting us when we boarded - it's a free ride + we didn't go through any turnstiles at either end - so it's a bit scary to think that they don't control the number of passengers - maybe it's a weight thing ...  

The trip is 5 miles and takes about half an hour and gives you the most spectacular views from start to finish - it is promoted as ... "One of the world's greatest (and shortest) water voyages."

The Battery Point Terminal

As I ambled - more like a Maleny-tourist-dawdle - towards the terminal I was overtaken by masses of people briskly walking past me - then when I arrived there I saw why ... hundreds of people massed in front of the entry gates. Thinking my  'too many people - I'll never get in ...' thoughts - I turned to leave, but no way - even more hundreds were massing behind me !! Finally the gates opened and in a very orderly manner we shuffled on board.

 Hundreds of boarding passengers  ...
But once on board, there was plenty of space to wander about. There are three levels and small viewing decks at both ends - opps sorry - think should read 'forward and aft' or something.  
I think the ferries average about 600 to 1000 passengers at a time. But once on board you hardly notice the crowd. 

Crowd ? - what crowd ?

 Leaving Manhattan ( on the right ) and Jersey City ( on the left ) we steam towards Staten Island
And there she is - the main reason for the trip ...

It was quite noticeable that as we approached the Statue of Liberty, you could feel the ferry list to one side as the passengers rushed to get a view - and take even more pics ...

I am booked in for another day to visit Liberty 

Docked at Staten Island
Bored tourists - having filled up on junk food and had a comfort stop - now waiting for the return trip 

Something about ships that pass in the night ...

Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges in the distance -
... after the ferry ride, I headed to Brooklyn Bridge for my half walk across...

Homeward bound ...
Once more past Liberty towards Manhattan
Tomorrow I'll take you back to the Met - but this time, meet me in The Cloisters !!!!