The Morgan Library & Museum



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  • Clare Eddy Thaw gallery (Photograph: Michel Denanc)

  • Photograph: Todd Eberle 2009 Todd Eberle

  • Photograph: Todd Eberle 2009 Todd Eberle

  • Madison Avenue entrance (Photograph: Michel Denanc)

  • Morgan Library model (Photograph: Todd Eberle 2009 Todd Eberle)

  • Morgan's Study (Photograph: Todd Eberle 2009 Todd Eberle)

  • Atrium (Photograph: Michel Denanc)

  • Marble Hall ceiling (Photograph: The Morgan Library and Museum)

Clare Eddy Thaw gallery (Photograph: Michel Denanc)

1 J.P. Morgan was kind of a badass: During the Wall Street panic of 1907, he locked bankers, trust company presidents and other financial gurus in the library, hoping to force a solution to the economic crisis. It worked. Well, temporarily anyway.

2 How did J.P. ever find a book among the three-tiered shelves in his breathtaking library? Through a set of staircases hidden behind the books, of course. They’re not open to the public, but look closely at the shelves and you might just spot the doors leading to the stairs.

3 Gaze up when you enter the Marble Hall: The ceiling is an iron piece designed by Philadelphia blacksmith Samuel Yellin, featuring carvings of many different birds. Curiously, no two birds have the same beak.

4 Peek behind a curtain in Mr. Morgan’s Study to see one of the original storage vaults used by the museum—it housed medieval prints and drawings. See if you can spot yet another hidden staircase at the back of the vault.

5 The Morgan complex comprises four distinct components: the original 1906 library (designed by McKim, Mead & White); an annex, completed in 1928; a brownstone, formerly owned by J.P. Morgan Jr. (Jack); and the 2006 Renzo Piano addition, which put an airy atrium in the center of the museum. If the layout has you confused, head to the lower level: A wooden model of the final Piano design sits just under the staircase, and offers a bird’s-eye view of the revamped museum.

6 The museum rotates exhibits every three or four months: Check out Roy Lichtenstein: The Black and White Drawings, which showcases 45 pop-art drawings gathered from museums and private collections across two continents; or Mark Twain: A Skeptic’s Progress, a joint exhibition with the New York Public Library that explores Twain’s attitude toward modernization via his letters, manuscripts and books.

7 Take the stairs to get to the Engelhard Gallery on the second floor, and you’ll see photographs taken by Irving Penn (of Pablo Picasso and Georgia O’Keeffe) and Diane Arbus (of Norman Mailer) in the stairwell.

8 The Clare Eddy Thaw gallery on the first floor is a perfect 20-by-20-by-20-foot cube, which curator Christine Nelson refers to as the museum’s “treasure box”; Piano designed the gallery with an Italian Renaissance chamber in mind.

9 Several items from the collection—including a rare book compiling Oscar Wilde’s letters and manuscripts (it contains the earliest surviving letter from Wilde to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas)—are now available as digital downloads from the Morgan’s website.

The Morgan Library & Museum, 225 Madison Ave between 36th and 37th Sts (212-685-0008, Tue--Thu 10:30am--5pm; Fri 10:30am--9pm; Sat 10am--6pm; Sun 11am--6pm. $12; seniors, students and children under 16 $8; children under 12 free.


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