In the spirit of the Christmas season that extends beyond the "Big Day", I visited a special loan exhibition on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While not strictly a Yule-themed show, the nature of the objects on display made it very appropriate for holiday visitors. "Medieval Treasures from Hildesheim" is a very manageable selection of about fifty exquisite church furnishings from the Hildesheim Cathedral in Northern Germany that have been sent out on tour while the cathedral is being renovated.
I had actually visited the small city of Hildesheim as a teenager and again about ten years ago and well remember the massive bronze doors with scenes from the Old and New Testaments that are the signature element of Dom St. Maria (St Mary's Cathedral). Unfortunately these doors are far too big to travel, but the bishop who commissioned them in 1001, Bishop Bernward of Hildesheim (960-1022), was also responsible for many other magnificent pieces that survive to this day and are part of this current exhibition in New York.
While little Hildesheim is far from the tourist beat, it is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and boasts one of the finest and densest concentrations of medieval ecclesiastical art anywhere . While today we think of Rome as the capital of such treasures, a thousand years ago it was in fact Hildesheim that claimed this title - and they have protected their riches through reformation, secularization, wars and the ravages of time.
During this special season, and with the new year just days away, may I again wish my readers all the very best at Christmas and invite you to join me in 2014 for another year of art and adventure. Happy Holidays to all!!