After 30 years of passing this place on the highway, I thought it was worth the while to check it out . Most NYC museums are in midtown, some in the ersatz upper east side, a few in the more urbane Brooklyn, but what's the deal with this place on the border of da Bronx? Is it a monastery? Curiosity got the better of me and I decided to do a day trip. All I can say is lovely, lovely, lovely. We took the commuter train from CT down to 125th street. I had a houseguest from So. Korea, so this was her first excursion into NYC. Needless to say, the idea of getting off in Harlem intimidated her. To calm her fears, we took a cab from 125th to Fort Tryon - but really, as I explained to her later, 125th street is not so different from say 42nd street or 14th street. It's all the stigma. We caught a cab - well lets say it was a cab because he had a livery license, but not a yellow cab, no meter and as I got in, the guy said "so, what price are we going to agree on" I wasn't thrilled but it actually added to the fun to barter and the guy was cool. He pointed out the sights. Apollo Theater. But I pointed him to the Cotton Club - so there! We had agreed on $20 bucks for the ride but i gave him a little extra. He made the effort, the cab was clean and I get the hustle.
Anyway.... we get to Fort Tryon and he gives me a tour of the park. Suggests that we do the walking tour - not something that a couple of teenagers are necessarily interested in, but it was well worth it. The weather was great, the views were fantastic and I was once again amazed at the beauties that NYC has to offer. The museum itself was pricey. They say it's recommended but when I countered with a lower "donation", the girl still rang up the full price. We started our tour. I loved it. What's really cool is that you get immersed into the mindset of life in the Middle Ages. Sounds boring? Honey, I've got some pictures for you. A million pictures of Madonna and child (an exaggeration) but what was interesting was that in each picture, Jesus kept getting smaller and smaller. I'm not talking about the baby Jesus. I mean Jesus, the grown man, after he is taken off the cross. That was interesting. There are actual tombs -not sure if any remains existed, but that particular hall was kinda spooky. Beautiful tapestries and you have to wonder at the technology and the artistry that created these works. Amazing that they have survived 700 years. My next question was how did Rockefeller and Pierpont Morgan get their hands on these things. Hmmm. The best parts were the music hall. A virtual choir with speaker boxes representing each voice in the choir. Very interesting pieces. A beheaded apostle. The story of capturing the unicorn. Some kindly priests - some not so kindly and our very own hump day camel. The gardens were beautiful. I'm convinced it was in fact a monastery although I didn't dig long enough to confirm. I'll probably sound ignorant to the art historians among us, but really what a wonderful amazing place. Last, check out the West Terrace. Picture Time! Such amazing views. I really can't say enough. I enjoyed the trip so very much and glad to find this little tucked away treasure. Why go to Rome or Venice. It's all there in NYC. Highly recommend this trip. A bit of walking - so be prepared - but truly engaging. I'd have like to see some non European pieces represented. Yes we had a few Islamic pieces, but Africa, Asia? If I understand the original curators and times, I guess I understand the European preoccupation. And yes, there are plenty of places to go to get the 'other side'. However, let's move into the post modern era and embrace all of the contributions. Make the stop. You won't regret it.
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