4. The Cloisters Was Sold to the Metropolitan

In 1917, after purchasing the Billings Estates along with other properties in the Fort Washington area, philanthropist John D. Rockefeller commissioned Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (the son of one of the designers of Central Park) and the Olmsted Brothers firm to create Fort Tryon Park. As part of the project, four acres of land was set aside to construct the Cloisters museum.

The institution features some pieces from Rockefeller’s own collection, but many medieval works come from a collection that once belonged to American sculptor George Grey Barnard. Although Barnard had already established his own medieval-art museum (the original Cloisters) in 1914 on Fort Washington Avenue, he was forced to sell his collection to the Metropolitan during a financial crisis.