Financier J. Pierpont Morgan was just as adept at collecting thousands of magnificent works of art for his library as he was at generating his enormous wealth.  He began to assemble his artistic objects in 1890 and within ten years he found that his collection had outgrown the library in his New York City home and needed a building of its own.

 

Morgan called on the “starchitect” of the day, Charles McKim of the firm of McKim, Mead and White, to design a spectacular library for him next to his house at 33 East 36th Street, between Madison and Park Avenues.  It was completed in 1906 and modeled on “a Renaissance-style palazzo of formal elegance and understated grandeur” inside and out.

 

J. P. Morgan Jr. continued to grow his father’s treasures after the latter’s death in 1913 and in 1924 opened the Library to the public as a Museum and Research Center in memory to his father.  An annex was added to the original building and, in 1988, J. P. Morgan Jr.’s mid-19th century brownstone on its Madison Avenue side was added to the complex of buildings making up the Library and Museum.

 

In 2006 present-day “starchitect” and designer of exquisite private museums, Renzo Piano, expanded the complex tying the buildings together under a magnificent glass atrium.  He doubled the site’s gallery space, added a performance venue, a café, restaurant, and gift shop and created an entrance to the buildings on Madison Avenue.

 

Among the Library and Museum’s cornucopia of varied riches can be found: nearly 12,000 drawings and prints that include etchings by Rembrandt, works by Rubens, van Dyk, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Fragonard, Watteau, Ingres, Hogarth, Gainsborough, Turner, Durer and Friedrich; medieval and renaissance era illuminated manuscripts; printed books and bindings, among them three Gutenberg bibles, first editions of Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe and John Ruskin; literary and historical manuscripts such as the only manuscript of Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” and Thomas Jefferson’s letters to his daughter Martha; from the music world, a letter written by the 13-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the original copy of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto Number 10, Opus 96 in G Major.

 

The four rooms of the Morgan’s 1906 building were recently restored to their original glory.  Apart from the permanent collection on view, excellent exhibitions put together from its own collections and relevant materials borrowed from other institutions, musical performances, readings, lectures and video presentations are offered at the Library on a regular basis.  Visiting the Morgan Library and Museum is a unique experience.

 

Location: 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, New York City   Tel: (212) 685-0008

Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 10:30 AM – 5:00 PM, Friday: 10:30 AM – 9:00 PM

                                Saturday:  10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, Sunday: 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Admission: Adults: $12.  Seniors, Students, Children (under 16): $8.

www.themorgan.org

 

 





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