CASE STUDY // THE CLOISTERS MUSEUM

History_Cloisters

Website: http://www.metmuseum.org/visit/visit-the-cloisters

Address: 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park in northern Manhattan

Curator: Tim Husband

Institution type: Branch of the MET Museum

Contacts:Nancy Wu (Educator of the museum)

Admission Prices

Fee includes same-day admission to the Main Building and The Cloisters. There is no extra charge for entrance to special exhibitions

Adults: $25

Seniors (65 and older): $17

Students:$12

Members: Free

Children under 12 (accompanied by an adult): Free

Visit Hours:

Open 7 Days a Week
Sunday–Thursday: 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.*
Friday and Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.*
 Closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25, January 1, and the first Monday in May

Saturday evenings are made possible by the William H. Kearns Foundation.

Mission:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was founded on April 13, 1870, “to be located in the City of New York, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining in said city a Museum and library of art, of encouraging and developing the study of the fine arts, and the application of arts to manufacture and practical life, of advancing the general knowledge of kindred subjects, and, to that end, of furnishing popular instruction.”1

This statement of purpose has guided the Museum for more than a century

The mission of The Metropolitan Museum of Art is to collect, preserve, study, exhibit, and stimulate appreciation for and advance knowledge of works of art that collectively represent the broadest spectrum of human achievement at the highest level of quality, all in the service of the public and in accordance with the highest professional standards.

The Trustees of The Metropolitan Museum of Art , 2000

General Information

CREATING THE CLOISTERS  (General Information based on Tim Husband’s book on the creation of the museum)

People Involved in the creation:

John D. Rockefeller Jr, financier

George Grey Banard, american sculptor, owner of the first cloisters museum

Robert Moses, Parks commissioner,

Robert W de Forest, president of the Met in 1925

Joseph Breck, first curator of the Cloisters (director in 1932)

Charles Collens, designer of the new medieval style buildings

Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr, designer Fort Tyron Park

History:

1906: Banard acquires fragments of Saint Guilhem le Desert

1907: Banard acquires portionts of four more cloisters

1913: Banard shipped his collection out of France

1915: Rockefeller’s acquisition of Italian Medieval panels

1916: Banard sells Rockefeller 100  “Gothic Objects”

1922/23: Rockefeller buys the Hunt of the Unicorn tapestries

1925: Rockefeller acquires Banard’s cloisters Museum (in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum)

1926: Rockefeller acquires the lasts parts of the park in Washington Heights (future Fort Tyron Park)

1930: Proposal of moving the Cloisters to Fort Tyron Park

1931: Park delivered to the City

1933: Design work completed, beginning of construction

1934: Ramparts and park completed

1936: Old Cloisters museum closed

1938: The Cloisters officially opened

 

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MAIN CLOISTERS 

Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa

Bennedictine Abbey

ORIGINAL LOCATION: Pyrenees-Orientales, Catalonia

PERIOD: 9th Century (Cloister from the 12th Century)

Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert

Bennedictine Abbey

ORIGINAL LOCATION: Montpellier, France

PERIOD: 9th Century (Cloister from the 12th Century)

Trie-sur-Baise

Carmelite Convent

ORIGINAL LOCATION: Toulouse, France

PERIOD: 14th Century

Froville

Three sections of arcade

ORIGINAL LOCATION: Lorraine, France

PERIOD: 15th Century

Bonnefont-en-Comminges

Cistercian monastery

ORIGINAL LOCATION: Midi-Pyrenees, France

PERIOD: late 13th Century

Apse from San Martin de Fuentidueña

Church

ORIGINAL LOCATION: Segovia, Spain

PERIOD: 12th Century

 

ORDER OF SAINT BENEDICT:(Black Monks)

Roman Catholic religious order of independent monastic communities. Each individual community maintains their own autonomy, while the organization as a whole exists to represent their mutual interests.

Vows of stability, conversatio morum, obedience

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San Gall’s Plan: Model of a Benedictine Monastery

Notes from the Visit

Group Discussion with Tim Husband (curator) Nancy Wu (educator) Lucretia Kargere and Emeline Braude (conservators):

  • The collection is enclosed, there’s no plan for a renovation or expansion, but the collection is still growing, like, for example, the treasure or glazing all the windows (one of the goals of the 1st design)
  • The CLOISTERS MUSEUM has a different approach when acquiring collections than the medieval department at the MET : they can acquire more variety of objects.
  • Attitude towards preservation: LOST COMPENSATION (Case by case)

– Cuxa Monastery: Architectural Compensation: Same Stone (from the same quarry, presumably) but with different tool marks on them. It gives legibility to the building. One can see the difference between NEW/OLD material

-Woman Statue: Eye replaced. One cannot see the difference between NEW/OLD

 

MONTAJE NUEVO ANTIGUO

Portal, Cuxa Cloister, Woman Statue : Different restoration strategies

– Different attitudes between CURATORS/CONSERVATORS: Balance

– CURATORS: They want exhibits to be as accessible as possible, they tend to put every object outside the vitrines.

– CONSERVATORS: They want to protect the objects as much as they can. They enforce the use of vitrines and they try to prohibit things that can endanger the preservation of the objects (previous conservators prohibited the use of candles and vines in order to protect them.

– Creation of ENVIROMENTS : Alternative techniques of controlling the atmosphere without noticing (temperature) : with technology

– Attitude towards NEW TECHNOLOGY: Discussion even nowadays (controversy). The museum is an escape from Manhattan (so the use of new technologies such as wifi or the  can go against the meditation/spiritual atmosphere) but also others such as the blog can open a big window and be consider as an alternative and complementary exhibition of the museum, where more parts of the research made in the museum can be shown.

MONTAJE CARTELES

 MUSEUM BLOGhttp://www.metmuseum.org/visit/visit-the-cloisters

  • The exterior envelope of the museum (external terraces) use the same stone as the ones used in Fort Tyron park, from the construction of the Dyckman subway station,  to connect with it. 
  • The GARDENS are also an active part of the museum, which serve as a new tool of education, as well as a meditation space.

GARDENS BLOG: http://www.metmuseum.org/visit/cloistersgardens

Tour with Emeline Baude (2nd conservator on site):

Conservation of MONUMENTAL ARCHITECTURE

The exact location or origin of the different parts of the cloisters that are now in the museum is sometimes uncertain because of the peculiar way of constructing the museum; the cloisters were dismantled on site, reconstructed sometimes in France and then shipped to the US, so they sometimes have to draw upon historical hypotheses.

ISSUES FOR A CONSERVATOR

  • CLIMATE CONDITIONS: They change depending on the season. Many of the procedures made in the conservation area are based on the weather, plus the proximity of the river.
  • SCALE: Long-term projects, that depend on collaboration with other departments and on the budget.
  • SCHEDULE OF THE MUSEUM: The Cloisters Museum is opened seven days a week and the conservator’s work has to be done on site, so it can not endanger the security of both the conservator and the public. Because of that the work has to be done either at hours where the museum is not open to the public or during the weeks in which the museum closes for the maintenance/study of the pieces inside of it.
  • DOCUMENTATION: Lack of a good documentation of the original piece or sometimes lack of any documentation. Sometimes site visits are necessary to recontextualize.

EXAMPLES OF THE CURRENT WORK

We visited four examples of different site conditions for a conservator, each with different issues and ways of approach their study:

  • Chapter House (France) Interior Work Site

The Parisian dealer that sold the piece arranged a “new set” of the old Chapter House, which leads to a difficulty in knowing the original disposition of it, especially since the stones were not numbered when they came to the museum.

There are also problems with the color treatment (used in the 1930’s until the 1950’s). They used paraffin wax and insecticide in the stone to prevent the weather changes but the ½ inch of wax is an impermeable layer that blocks the humidity inside the stone and prevents it from going outside, which pushes the stones.

They are also studying the structure of this part of the complex, with ribs made out of stone

MONTAJE BOVEDA

  • Portal (Spain) Object (interior)

The Portal consist on different pieces but we don’t have a clear idea of how it was.

To study the different pieces and the portal Emeline has developed a system of study.

TROZO ARCO

  • Document (Recent concept, from the 80’s)
  • Surveying: Look for patterns or alterations.
  • Representation of the OVERALL+PARTICULAR ELEMENTS. International comprehensive color code (keys). The layers show a deterioration pattern and give an overall view. Then the images are treated  in PHOTOSHOP or ILLUSTRATOR

MONTAJE METODO

 

  • Experiment: Set ground rules, try to look for new systems.
  • Potential: INTERACTIVE DATABASE for the public (Future)

 

MONTAJE MONTAJE 2

Windows Object (interior and exterior)

– Problem with indoor/outdoor

– Collaborative work (architects, climate control collaborator…) 

– Difference of the in the temperature

– 1st understand how it works –> Look for a solution

– DATA BASE of the documentation:

        – 1st page: Photographs

        – 2nd page: Historical information + Track of other historical documents of the object

       – 3rd page: Conservation documents

VENTANA

Trie-sur-bas Cloister Exterior Work Site

  • 1st step: SELECT SAMPLES of the stone marbles; this is a destructive technique, so the selection of the samples must be done with a prior exhaustive study so they are the fewer and most useful ones. They must be done in the most scientific way as possible.
  • 2nd step: STUDY of the samples.  Petrographic analysis.
  • 3rd step: IDENTIFY the origin of the samples (quarrels) For example, the white marbles are quite difficult to identify.
  • 4th step: DOCUMENT: Surveys (like the ones done for the other site studies), that could lead to future CAD drawings or 3D scans.

 

MUESTRAS

 

 

Tour with Michael Carter (librarian): LIBRARY and ARCHIVE: Architectural drawings and photos

 

The main library is located upstairs and consists of 3 rooms, built as originally envisioned. This is where the most usable monographs.

The archive is located downstairs, in a acclimatized room, with a good cooling system since 2005, which gives a fairly warm atmosphere that solves the humidity problems that endanger the preservation of the books.

They have a movable shelving system, that optimizes the use of the space and lead to a maximum storage.

The collection includes a catalogue of original construction photos and plans that we had the opportunity to see.

There is also an online catalogue of the Cloister’s collection of book, with a collection of original construction photos, Banard’s original Cloisters Museum…  

MONTAJE DOCUMENTACION QUE NOS ENSENARON

CATALOGUE: http://library.metmuseum.org/screens/opacmenu.html  Keyword: CLOISTERS

Tour with Gerard Dengel (Building’s Manager)

Through the visit of the non-public areas of the building we have and understanding of the different technical necessities of the building.

ESCALERAS COLGADAS

 

  • Specific CLIMATE CONDITIONS: In order to preserve the collection, and for it to be accessible to the public, there are a lot of requirements of the ideal temperature of the building, which are being control by a BOILER/ CHILLER, installed in 2006, prior to that there was no climate control building system.
  • NON VISIBLE technology: Atmosphere of the building. The particular condition of the building makes the technical requirements difficult to locate, since if they are shown to the public they could ruin the experience of the building.
  • This is the reason of the building having a “backstage” where the mechanical systems and workers are located (with their own system) and the parts where you can recognize the building systems or the mechanical elements are punctual.

MONTAJE INSTALACIONES

 

 



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