A Ghostly Romance of the Cloisters

The Cloisters in New York houses a fine collection of Medieval European art and architectural artifacts. The core of the collection was acquired in the early 1900s by George Grey Barnard, an American sculptor. Barnard founded the museum in 1914. It was afterward purchased by John D. Rockefeller Jr on behalf of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In 1938 the present day Cloisters was built in Washington Heights, half a mile north of the original. The new structure incorporated segments of four French monasteries—Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem, Bonnefont and Trie—imported stone by stone.

A rare film of the original Barnard Cloisters was made in 1928, entitled The Hidden Talisman: A Ghostly Romance of the Cloisters. It is a little over ten minutes long and employs a fictional narrative to tell the story of the museum. The Met’s curatorial notes describe the plot as follows: “Before going off to war, Thibaud leaves a talisman with Bertrade and asks her to guard it. Centuries later, she searches The Cloisters in order to recover the talisman and see Thibaud again.”

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