New York Public Library, Stephen A Schwarzman Building: A guide to the attraction

A complete guide to the New York Public Library, Stephen A Schwarzman Building: Find information and current exhibits. Plus: The best things to do nearby.

1/5
Photograph: Moira Brazier

New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

2/5
Photograph: Moira Brazier

New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

3/5
Photograph: Moira Brazier

New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

4/5
Photograph: Moira Brazier

New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

5/5
Photograph: Moira Brazier

New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

The century-old main branch of the New York Public Library is about as regal a setting for reading—either on your laptop or those old dusty things called books—as you’ll find in the city. Two massive Tennessee-marble lions, dubbed Patience and Fortitude, flank the main portal and have become the institution’s mascots. Once inside, check out the cavernous Rose Main Reading Room, spanning almost 300 feet and outfitted with chandeliers and stunning ceiling murals. Though it’s a classy setting in most instances, it’s also where Bill Murray uttered, “Are you, Alice, menstruating right now?” and “Back off, man, I’m a scientist” in Ghostbusters. Free guided tours (at 11am and 2pm) stop at Rose Main Reading Room and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room, which offers free internet access. Lectures, author readings and special exhibitions are definitely worth checking out.

New York Public Library, Stephen A Schwarzman Building venue and ticketing information

Attractions

New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

The century-old main branch of the NYPL is about as regal a setting for reading—either on your laptop or those old dusty things called books—as you’ll find in the city. Two massive Tennessee-marble lions, dubbed Patience and Fortitude, flank the main portal and have become the institution’s mascots. Once inside, check out the cavernous Rose Main Reading Room, spanning almost 300 feet and outfitted with chandeliers and stunning ceiling murals. Though it’s a classy setting in most instances, it’s also where Bill Murray uttered, “Are you, Alice, menstruating right now?” and “Back off, man, I’m a scientist” in Ghostbusters. Free guided tours (at 11am and 2pm) stop at Rose Main Reading Room and the Bill Blass Public Catalog Room, which offers free internet access. Lectures, author readings and special exhibitions are definitely worth checking out.

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Current exhibits at the New York Public Library, Stephen A Schwarzman Building

Art

"Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs"

The explanatory text on the wall at the beginning of MoMA’s blockbuster of around one hundred of Henri Matisse’s cut-outs notes that these well-known works...

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Art

"El Greco in New York"

Romantics and Modernists alike treasured the old master El Greco (1541–1614) for the skewed perspectives and strangely distorted figures that fill his...

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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Art

Sam Falls, "Light Over Time"

A process-oriented Los Angeles artist who works in a variety of media, Sam Falls has transformed Downtown Brooklyn’s MetroTech Commons into a playground for...

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Art

"Judith Scott—Bound and Unbound"

The artist Judith Scott (1943–2005), born deaf and with Down syndrome, was the author of a body of extraordinary abstract fiber sculptures, which she made...

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  • 5 out of 5 stars
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See all current exhibits at the New York Public Library, Stephen A Schwarzman Building

Museums and attractions near the New York Public Library, Stephen A Schwarzman Building

Attractions

Bryant Park

Situated behind the New York Public Library is Bryant Park, a well-cultivated retreat that hosts a dizzying schedule of free entertainment during the summer, including the popular Monday night outdoor movies. In the winter, look for an ice skating rink and pop-up shops for the holidays. The park also boasts free wireless access.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Things to Do

Rockefeller Center

RECOMMENDED: 50 best New York attractions You’ll find plenty of iconic New York sites in this multiblock complex: The ground level alone is home to the tourist-packed ice-skating rink, the bronze Atlas statue and the Today show plaza. Higher up, Top of the Rock rivals the Empire State Building in panoramic city views. You may not be able to access the five private rooftop gardens, but you can still peek at the spaces from Saks Fifth Avenue’s eighth-floor shoe department if you’re curious. Special credentials are not required, however, to inspect the Art Deco murals that appear in several buildings. Don’t miss the triptych above the outdoor entrance to 5 Rockefeller Center or the rinkside Prometheus statue; both purportedly contain secret Freemason symbols.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Things to Do

Times Square

Manhattan’s heart was once a hub for vice, teeming with sex shops and drug dealers. Over time that notorious reputation has eroded, and now the area can feel like a tourist-clogged shopping mall. Still, changes such as the stairs above the TKTS booth and a pedestrian plaza along Broadway have improved the sightseeing experience…sort of. If the thought of attending the annual glitzy New Year’s Eve celebration gives you hives, you can see the midnight countdown re-created on a smaller scale at the Times Square Visitor Center, thanks to one of the Waterford crystal balls used in years past.

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Music

Carnegie Hall

Artistic director Clive Gillinson continues to put his stamp on Carnegie Hall. The stars, both soloists and orchestras, shine most brightly inside this renowned concert hall in the Isaac Stern Auditorium.

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Museums

The Morgan Library & Museum

This Madison Avenue institution began as the private library of financier J. Pierpont Morgan and is his artistic gift to the city. Building on the collection Morgan amassed in his lifetime, the museum houses first-rate works on paper, including drawings by Michelangelo, Rembrandt and Picasso; three Gutenberg Bibles; a copy of Frankenstein annotated by Mary Shelley; manuscripts by Dickens, Poe, Twain, Steinbeck and Wilde; sheet music handwritten by Beethoven and Mozart; and an original edition of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol that’s displayed every yuletide. In 2006, a massive renovation and expansion orchestrated by Renzo Piano brought more natural light into the building and doubled the available exhibition space. A theater, Gilder Lehrman Hall, regularly hosts recitals and concerts.

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Attractions

Grand Central Terminal, Main Concourse

The 1913 Beaux Arts train station is the city’s most spectacular point of arrival. The station played an important role in the nation’s historic preservation movement, after a series of legal battles that culminated in the 1978 Supreme Court decision affirming NYC’s landmark laws. One notable oddity: the constellations on the Main Concourse ceiling are drawn in reverse, as if seen from heaven. (For more information on tours call 212-697-1245)

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Attractions Book online

Discovery Times Square

The Discovery Channel is one of the sponsors of this new large-scale exhibition center, which will offer limited-edition runs of exhibits from across the globe. The 60,000-square-foot space is housed in the former New York Times building, and includes a learning center, a space for special events and a café.

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Museums

Society of Illustrators

Since it was founded in 1901, the Society of Illustrators has promoted the work of artists around the world through events and exhibitions in the former carriage house of William P. Read, attorney to J. P. Morgan, on the Upper East Side.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Related New York Public Library, Stephen A Schwarzman Building coverage

Attractions

Secrets of classic NYC: New York Public Library

Retrieving a book from NYPL's vast collection is a simple process: Patrons fill out a piece of paper and give it to a clerk outside the main reading room. Until recently, these call slips were sent through a system of pneumatic tubes. "The clerk would put the slip into the tube, sending it to the reading room," says chief librarian Sumie Ota. "There, it was fed into another tube to one of the seven stacks levels, where it got spit out at the other end." The passages are no longer in use, but you can see the now-obsolete big brass pipes in the third-floor catalog room at the clerk's desk. "It's still operable, but a few years ago we moved to a conveyor-belt system," explains Ota. Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Fifth Ave at 42nd St (917-275-6975, nypl.org) See more in Things to Do

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Things to Do

Historical attractions in New York you shouldn't miss

Get a history lesson along with your sightseeing by visiting these top historical attractions, which offer a glimpse into New York City’s past. New York City is home to plenty of historic landmarks and links to the city’s past. Check out our guide to these top historical attractions, and find out where you can see old buildings, noteworthy architecture, and vintage sights that hark back to New York’s origins. RECOMMENDED: The 50 best New York attractions you have to see Apollo Theater The 78-year-old Harlem institution has been the site of more than a few historic moments: Ella Fitzgerald’s first performance happened here in 1934; Live at the Apollo, recorded in 1962, practically launched James Brown into the mainstream; and a young Jimi Hendrix won an Amateur Night contest in 1964. Despite its storied history and grand decor, this living link to the Harlem Renaissance feels rather cozy inside. As of late, the theater has attracted big-name comedians (Aziz Ansari, Tracy Morgan, Jim Gaffigan) and huge rock stars (Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen), while still welcoming under-the-radar talent to its famed Wednesday Amateur Night. BLDG 92 Located in a former military residence on the grounds of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, this small museum chronicles the mighty history of the former shipbuilding center—which, at its peak during World War II, employed close to 70,000 people. Permanent exhibits examine the yard’s origins and significance throughout history; for example, a numbe

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