The Cloisters, Manhattan, NYC. Photo courtesy of Urban.
On the northern fringes of Manhattan there exists an almost mystical park that is resoundingly deserving of a visit. Known as the Cloisters, or more correctly, Fort Tryon Park, this unique site is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Fort Tryon Park is perched on a hill overlooking the meandering Hudson River, far from the hustle and bustle of the usual Manhattan atmosphere. The Cloisters occupies four of the parks 67 acres, and is dedicated to showcasing the incredible artwork, architecture and gardens of the medieval period in Europe.
Architect Charles Collens was asked to design the museum in the early 1930s to house John D. Rockefeller’s famous collection of medieval art which he has acquired from American sculptor and collector George Gray Bernard in 1925 and promptly donated to the Met. Collens was not only inspired by medieval architecture, but several original cloisters from French monasteries where shipped to the US and, stone by stone, were incorporated into Collens’ design.
Today the museum features many aspects of medieval European monastic architecture, including stained-glass windows, sculptures, column capitals, medieval portals, and exquisite gardens which were planted according to information kept in manuscripts from that era.
The museum houses over 2,000 incredible works of art, and between the gardens, the architecture and the view, it is a joy to visit.
Last month the New York City Food Policy Center at Hunter College featured Harlem Children’s Zone – a charitable organization supported by Jeff Feig and his wife Michelle – in their community organization spotlight. This NPO “provides a comprehensive network of programs around education, culture, social and health services to more than 25,000 children and adults in Central Harlem.”
Located in Manhattan, in 2015 one of its programs – the Healthy Harlem Initiative – assisted over 7,000 students, ensuring they were engaged in daily physical activity as well as nutritional education. This comprised the “two bite” taste tests (for pre-schoolers) as well as nutritious recipe cook-offs for parents and older students.
To date, over 3,000 adults have benefitted from the programs offered by the Harlem Center Zone, such as: support groups, subsidized farmers market and more. Ultimately a staggering 1.5 million healthy, nutritious meals were prepared almost completely from scratch.
It is organizations such as Harlem Children’s Zone that successfully “provides comprehensive, critical support to children and families and reweaving the very fabric of community life,” which keeps our communities alive and well.
UPDATE (APRIL 4, 2017): I was doing my regular morning reading today when I came across an article which referenced Harlem Children’s Zone. Apparently, HCZ has had some staggering successes recently with 98% of their 2016 seniors at Promise Academy High School having graduated on time and headed off to college this past fall. Kudos HCZ, and kudos to donors like Jeff Feig for keeping this program running smoothly!
The Queens Museum is a hidden gem of amazing exhibits worth a visit. At the moment, there are four temporary exhibitions we think will excite and entertain.
• Its About Us: A New Yorkers Exhibition- Running for only one month, from December 15 to January 15, this exhibit features the creations of participants of museum workshops during 2016, including Experimental Watercolor, Collective Storytelling, Photobook Storytelling, Drawing Sound, Basic Sculpture, Basic Digital Photography, Drawing Journal, Spanish for Mandarin Speakers, Advanced Silkscreen, and Design Thinking.
• Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art- From September 18 2016 until February 19, 2017, the QM is showing a retrospective of Ukeles art which explores issues related to the role of women in society, cultures of work and labor, and urban and community resilience. Perhaps this artist is best know at the official, unsalaried Artist-in-Residence and New York’s Department of Sanitation, a distinction she has had for over 36 years.
• Nonstop Metropolis: The Remix- From April 10 2016 until January 22, 2017 the QM has created a multi-facete project together with the writer, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit. Solnit has written 15 books which discuss the connections between the environment, landscape, community, art, politics, stories and hope.
• A Passion for Tiffany Lamps- Journey with Austrian immigrants Dr. Egon and Hildegard Neustadt as they assemble the largest collection of Tiffany Lamps in the world. It all began in 1935, when the newly married couple purchased their first Tiffany lamp in a secondhand shop in Greenwich Village for $12.50. Over the next 50 years the couple acquired over 200 lamps of every kind. The QM has a special fondness for Tiffany lamps because the company’s glass furnace, bronze foundry, and workshops were housed in Corona, Queens, only two miles from the museum.
This is certainly worth a trip to the QM, yes?