Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Morgan Library and Museum, New York City



The Morgan Library and Museum, located at 225 Madison Avenue, New York, New York is a treasure trove of manuscripts, and printed books as well as prints and drawings that are in the once private and personal collection of the American financier and philanthropist John Pierpont Morgan. I felt fortunate to be able to visit the Morgan on a trip to New York City, and I'd love to show you some of its magnificence.  (All photos and photo collages in this post will enlarge  for easier viewing when clicked on)


Mr. Morgan's library was built between 1902 and 1906 adjacent to his New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street.  It was designed by Charles McKim of the architectural firm McKim, Meed and White in an Italian Renaissance style.  The two lionesses in front were sculpted by Edward Clark Potter, who would later create the two lions that guard the New York Public Library's main building.


Today the library is a complex of buildings which serve as a museum and a scholarly research center. The most recent addition, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and Beyer Binder Belle, and was completed in 2006, is a modernist entrance building that joins the interior spaces of the complex.


In 1924, eleven years after Pierpont Morgan's death, his son J.P. Morgan Jr, fulfilled his father's dream of making the library and its treasures available to scholars and the  public alike by transforming it into a public institution. The Rotunda portion of the library is opulent in detail.


Monumental bronze doors lead to variegated marble columns, an ornately patterned floor and fine mosaic panels that line the curved walls. Highlights of the Morgan's collection of rare printed and manuscript Americana are on display here, such as letters of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln as well as the journal of Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne and works by Edgar Allen Poe and Ralph Waldo Emerson.


I was particularly fascinated by this life mask of the first President of the United States, George Washington, made in 1785 by the French Sculptor Jean-Antione Houdon at the President's Mount Vernon residence.  To make the mold of Washington's face Houdon had Washington lay down, and he placed a protective layer of grease on his face and then applied plaster over that, covering his entire face. When the plaster hardened, he removed the mold and poured plaster into it, thereby making this positive "life mask."  Houdon returned to France with the mask and used it to sculpt a marble portrait of the president which was presented to the rotunda of Virginia Sate Capital building in 1796.


The grandeur of the East Room Library takes one's breath away!


The library, with three story inlaid walnut bookshelves and magnificent ceiling, was designed as a treasury for Pierpont Morgan's collection of rare printed books.


The sixteenth-century tapestry over the mantelpiece depicts avarice; one of the seven deadly sins personified by the mythological King Midas.


One view in the East Room are examples from The Morgan Library and Museum's extraordinary collection of medieval illuminated manuscripts, rare printed books and bindings, and handwritten manuscripts of great writers, artists, and composers from the Renaissance to the present day.


Some articles in the collection have been acquired since Pierpont Morgan's death.


There were volumes upon volumes of books on the shelves.......


....and beautiful murals painted on the ceiling.


Two staircases, concealed behind bookcases, provide access to the balconies.


Display cases held a variety of rare books in the library.


The North Room is lined with two tiers of bookshelves and adorned with ceiling paintings from the studio of American artist James Well Finn. This was the first librarian's office. In 1905 Pierpont hired Belle de Costa Greene to manage and augment his collection of rare books, and she later served as the Morgan's first director.



Selection on display are changed regularly in the library, but one work always on display is one of Morgan's three copies of a Bible printed by Johannes Gutenberg in 1455. With Gutenberg's Bible, the painstaking process of copying books by hand gave way to an innovative new technology--movable type--that facilitated the exchange of art and ideas for the greater masses of people.


Pierpont Morgan's study, called the West Room, a lush but intimate room where Morgan relaxed and met with art dealers and business associates.


To the left of the massive fireplace, Morgan's impressive manuscript collection was once secured in a vault lined with solid steel.


The Morgan Library and Museum offers the Thaw Conservation CenterResearch Services, as well as Online Exhibitions.  Information on Current and Upcoming Exhibitions can also be accessed on their web site.. It truly is one of the exceptional library and museum gems of New York City!

Do you remember the TV show called The Adventures of Superman?  Next post I'll show you a building that has a fascinating bit of scenery that was used in the show!

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49 comments:

Poppy said...

Hi Pat,

Thanks for sharing your wonderful photos of the Morgan Library and Museum, as well as the very interesting facts about this grand complex of buildings. The East and West Rooms are beautiful, rich in colours, texture, and history.

Poppy

podso said...

Hi Pat, what an amazing library. Your photos are amazing and there is such depth to the color. Hope you are staying warm and having a nice weekend.

Ingmarie We said...

A fantastic library and so many lovelyand interesting photos of it. So many books on the shelves.

The Gathering Place said...

What a wonderful library! It is a real treasure. The building itself it amazing and the old books and murals are frosting on the cake.

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

I love libraries - big, small, old or new. Paper and books can never be replaced by a computer screen in my view. Loved this tour.

Pamela Gordon said...

What a beautiful building! The architecture inside is wonderful with all the woodwork and paintings etc. Thank you for taking us on this tour Pat.

From the Kitchen said...

What a treasure! The Morgan Library was built and opened around the same time as our Carnegie Library. No comparison though!!

Best,
Bonnie

eileeninmd said...

Pat, The Morgan Library is amazing..Very grand! It must be awesome to visit in person. Wonderful tour and photos, have a happy week ahead!

ann said...

What a grand library and a wonderful place to visit. I am glad that you shared it.

fredamans said...

So beautiful! I'll have to put it on my visit list for NYC!

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

With my love of books and reading, this is the type of place I'd love to visit too Pat. Such a grand museum with a wealth of rare books and I'm glad you've shared your photos for those of us who may never see it in person.
Thank you as always for linking to Mosaic Monday.

Michelle said...

The detail in each room is just overwhelming and in the best way!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

I love the Morgan. It's one of the small jewels of NYC. So glad you got a chance to come back to NYC for a visit.

The Furry Gnome said...

What an incredibly beautiful library!

Gina @ VictorianWannaBe said...

WOW, that Library is amazing!! It reminds me of the Library in the Beatuy and the Beast Disney movie.
Visiting from Amaze Me Monday.
Have a great week,
Gina

Mama Zen said...

What an awe inspiring place!

Kris said...

Beautiful!
I am so very sorry too, for the loss of your dear friend!
xo Kris

Jacqueline said...

OK, I already have a hard time not just stopping life and reading books - how addictive - but if I had a library like that - you would never get me out! They would take away my children and my hubby would leave me!! Exquisite to the max!!

Ola said...

an impressive building with even more impressive interiors in which I could spend long long hours!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wow, I love this. What a library.

SmilingSally said...

Hi Pat,

What a special place! I could just sit and stare at that ceiling. Thanks.

Happy Blue Monday!

Annesphamily said...

Our middle daughter loves reading and she loves visiting all libraries. It is a shame all that wonderful reading locked away on shelves. I doubt anyone ever read any of those books and it is quite sad but very beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Donna said...

On the trips I have made to the city, I have never had time to visit museums, and I will add this to the list I want to see next time....I adore old libraries and what a treat to walk amongst these amazing books. That life mask of Washington was very eerie and so real.

Sylvia said...

Pat, thanks for sharing pics of this wonderful library. Books are dear to me.
Sylvia

Wandering Wren said...

There is so much to be admired at the Morgan Library, too right about it's magnificence! Those ceilings are amazing, I like seeing also the contrast between the modern architecture and the new.
That life mask of George Washington is interesting I would have hated having plaster poured on my face like that, but then I guess the life of a politician is never easy!
Great post I am sorry we missed this place on our visit to NYC last year, will add to the 'must see' list for next time!
Wren x

librarylady64 said...

Such a beautiful library. I wish ours was more like that. Hope you have a great week!
Joy @ Books and Life

happywonderer.com said...

That East Room Library is amazing! Love it...

Kc W said...

All I can say is WOW -- how amazing! Beautiful pictures, thank you for sharing them.

Roz Corieri Paige said...

What a wonderful treasure trove of culture (written and visual) in the museums of NYC that you've recommended Pat! thank you so much as we increased our efforts to visit the city in our future travels. If time permits, please visit my blog for a little recognition of your blog friendship . . . no superficial awards . . . just a thank you.
Baci,
Roz

Lorrie said...

I think libraries are marvelous places because of the books they hold. Combined with stunning art and architecture like the Morgan library - they are monuments of knowledge. Gorgeous!

Photo Cache said...

Wow! I haven't heard of this place. I hope someday I can visit especially the East Room.

Worth a Thousand Words

Jarek said...

What a grand library and beautiful photos.

Molly said...

What a truly awesome room!

Mollyxxx

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a grand building and I am taken by the beauty of the exquisite tapestries. I too found the sculpture of George Washington fascinating. A great place to visit when in the city.
Sam

Gracie said...

How could I miss this??? Thanks for sharing, something for a next time.

AdriBarr said...

Wow Pat, Thank you for this one. You are not kidding about a treasure trove. The building itself sets the standard. It is hard for me - indeed for many of us - to conceive of wealth on such a grand scale. How wonderful that he spent some of his money so others could see these magnificent things.

ImSoVintage Laura Walker said...

Such an amazing place and your photos are gorgeous. xo Laura

Al said...

What an impressive library! Regarding the trail I posted, where I live, there are a lot of treed trails, since so many are in the massive Pike National Forest.

I'm sorry about your friend Lucie.

Vee said...

That is one incredible library! Are scholars allowed to look at collections? The red study was very nice, too, though I immediately wanted to add more furniture and place it in groups for easy conversations. I've been reading too many blogs. Did I ever tell you that I once photoshopped George Washington with current styles.? He was very handsome! =D

Barb said...

I'm amazed at the opulence of this museum/library. I'm surprised that the rare books are displayed for the public and aren't kept in a climate-controled space. Your photos are fabulous, Pat.

Jody Sanders said...

Wow, just gorgeous. Adding the library to my list of "must visits".

Rue said...

That is one incredible place, Pat.

The George Washington mask fascinates me too. He was much better looking than he was portrayed in paintings.

Thanks for the tour :)

xo

Tracy said...

Ooo... This looks something straight out of old England--LOVE this!! Such gorgeousness and lushness! VERY wonderful with the Gutenberg Bibles. Wow... I could live there... LOL! Nice to visit here and catch up with you, Pat. Yes, I've made a blogging "comeback"... and it's good to be back. ;o) Happy Days to you & yours ((HUGS))

ladyfi said...

Wonderful shots of the library!

Massimo said...

wow !
I love everything about NYC but this is superb... something to see absolutely next time I will go to the big apple.. (I Hope).

Yvette said...

Thanks for this, Pat. I've always meant to visit the Morgan and never have. I know, SHAME on me! I loved your photos and your detailed descriptions. I know that at Christmas, a manuscript of Dickens' A CHRISTMAS CAROL is on view and that some of the pages have Dickens' own handwritten notes!!

Parsimonious Perfection said...

What can I say. There's nothing like New York. Incredible. During both of our visits, we were unable to see this gem. Thank you so much for sharing!!!!

Cathy Keller said...

You always take us on such interesting adventures. Today's is no exception. I'm sorry I just now getting to it, but know I think it is grand!!! Cathy

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Stunning; your photos make me feel as if I'd been there.