“Have a nice trip, Dick.” - Betty Ford
While the winter weather was dreadfully chilly and damp here at home in New York, my spirits dragged along with a boredom antagonized by the anticipation for a bright spring day. I felt as if I should make a religious pilgrimage to wash away some of my restlessness. One easy and effortless escape awaited me within urban decay when I revisited The Cloisters in the Fort Washington neighborhood of Manhattan.
As soon as I walked out of the 109th Street station, I found the passage to The Cloisters to be a beautiful and comforting one to follow. The ground was leafless brown, and I appreciated the layers of brown hues juxtaposed with the dark vertical tree trunks soaring upward. The Hudson River is a warm grey felt wrap, draping before the site of The Cloisters. On its grounds, I saw everyone from local dog walkers to foreign tourists. Surprisingly, regardless of its reproduced architecture, I felt as if visiting an original ancient site.
The Cloisters has a handsome heritage where almost 5,000 European medieval works of art can be viewed along with an assemblage of European buildings, which are reassembled within Fort Tryon Park. John Rockefeller Jr. largely created the museum and its park through an endowment grant in 1938. Now The Cloisters is operated by The Metropolitan Museum of New York.
Even if one is not into art or history, The Cloisters can provide anyone with a relaxed and meditative day as he or she winds through its sequential passages. On the other hand, the visiting experience can also be educational, a rare voyage to the exotic gold coast of Europe without it feeling like Las Vegas or the Magic Kingdom in Florida. Indeed, the final product has been recreated like most of American contemporaries, but the Cloisters is a reflective museum where I can be inspired simply through an effortless subway arrival.