For anyone wanting a break from the plugged-in and wired-up pace of life in NYC, the Cloisters, America’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the art of the Middle Ages, is a uniquely satisfying destination. Conveniently close to Manhattan’s Upper West Side, it offers 66.5 acres of peaceful parkland high atop a palisade on the Hudson River.

The Cloisters collection was originated by American sculptor George Grey Barnard (1863-1938) while he lived and worked in rural France prior to WWI. Barnard supplemented his income by locating and selling medieval sculpture and architectural fragments he discovered in the possession of local landowners.

These stunningly delicate and detailed pieces had floated around the region through centuries of political and religious re-affiliations until they landed in the hands of Barnard, who hoped to enable young Americans to learn from what he called “the patient Gothic chisel.”