"These Moving Stones of France": The Cloisters Museum and the Movement of Medieval Architectural Heritage During the Twentieth Century
AuthorChadbourne, Susanne Emma
AffiliationSchool of Culture and Communication
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2023-03-30.
© 2020 Susanne Emma Chadbourne
This thesis investigates the foundation and early development of The Cloisters museum in New York, from its genesis as a private museum maintained by the American sculptor George Grey Barnard in 1914, through to its foundation as a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and up to the present day. The evolution of The Cloisters design project is examined, from its inception in 1914 to its reopening in May 1938. This period witnessed a radical reconsideration of The Cloisters as it transformed itself from its initial model as a deliberately personal and evocative Gothic Revivalist museum to a modern public institution, founded on the latest developments in international museum design and education. Research focuses on archival documents which detail the formation of the collection and the museum and provide a more critical understanding of the transatlantic medieval art market during the early twentieth century. This study also considers the economic and cultural exchanges that enabled a unique opportunity for collecting and exporting large-scale medieval artworks out of Europe to the United States of America during the first decades of the twentieth century. This thesis is the first to focus on the ramifications that the international translocation of medieval artworks had on the legal protection of heritage in Europe. It also considers the resulting ethical debates conducted in both Europe and America regarding the purchase and transatlantic transference of medieval monumental complexes to the United States. An examination is undertaken on how the formation and expansion of this collection altered French heritage protection laws together with the architectural and museological discussions surrounding The Cloisters’ incorporation into the philanthropic programme of its institutional founder, John D Rockefeller Jr, and the more recent issues surrounding the ongoing role and identity of The Cloisters in the current museological environment.
KeywordsArt; Art History; Art Market; Medieval Architecture; Medieval Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Museum Studies; The Cloisters Museum
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