The Cloisters is a museum in Upper Manhattan, New York City specializing in European medieval architecture, sculpture and decorative arts, and is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Its early collection was built by the American sculptor, art dealer and collector George Grey Barnard, and acquired by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. in 1925. Rockefeller extended the collection and in 1931 purchased the site at Washington Heights and contracted the design for the Cloisters building. Its architectural and artistic works are largely from the Romanesque and Gothic periods. The four cloisters; the Cuxa, Bonnefont, Trie and Saint-Guilhem cloisters, were sourced from French monasteries and abbeys. They were excavated from Europe and, between 1934 and 1939, reconstructed in a four-acre site in Washington Heights, in a project overseen by the architect Charles Collens. The reconstructed cloisters are surrounded by early medieval gardens and a series of indoor chapels and rooms grouped by period and source location, and include the Romanesque, Fuentidueña, Unicorn, Spanish and Gothic rooms. The design, layout and ambiance of the building is intended to evoke a sense of the Medieval European monastic life through its architecture. The museum contains approximately five thousand medieval works of art from the Mediterranean and Europe, mostly from the 12th to 15th centuries, that is from the Byzantine to the early renaissance periods, but also works dating from the bronze and early iron ages.
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