A few weeks ago, my boyfriend—being the best boyfriend ever—took me on a date night to the Morgan Library & Museum. (What can I say? Boy knows the way to my heart.) And woah. I’ve found heaven. It’s called the East Room.
A Little History
The Morgan Library & Museum began in the 1890s as the private collection of Pierpont Morgan, the legendary financier of of J.P. Morgan fame. He acquired a large collection of books, art, literary autographs, and manuscripts in his lifetime. In 1902, he commissioned famed architecture firm McKim, Mead & White to construct a building adjacent to his NYC home to house his collection. Morgan even had his own librarian! When Pierpont Morgan died, he left the disposition of his collection to his son, J.P. Morgan, Jr., stating that he intended to render his collection “permanently available for the instruction and pleasure of the American people.” Eventually Jack Morgan established the Morgan Library & Museum as a public institution, and the NY legislature passed a special act establishing it as a reference library. Morgan’s librarian Belle Greene became its first director.
Today, the Morgan Library & Museum includes the structure designed by Charles Follen McKim to serve as Pierpont Morgan’s private library, the Annex added in 1928 on the site of Morgan’s home, and the brownstone where J.P. Morgan, Jr., lived, with a more recent expansion and renovation by famed architect Renzo Piano integrating the buildings with new pavilions.
The Museum has regular exhibits from the Morgan collection, as well as changing exhibitions. We were able to see two exhibitions that I was especially excited about—Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul (including an original newspaper including the first run of The Raven, and lots of incredible handwritten letters), and Bookermania: 45 Years of the Man Booker Prize.
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Do you see that beauty? I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of bookishness contained within the museum’s walls. I spent most of my trip plotting ways that I could sneakily move in and live there forever. Sadly, I was not brave enough to pull a Claudia and Jamie from The Mixed Up Files of Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler (one of my favorite childhood books!) and live in the museum. Maybe next time.
Left: Outside, in front of the Morgan Library & Museum.
Right: Another view of the East Room.
Yep, the ceiling in the atrium is really that gorgeous.
The West Room vault. Because obviously one needs a fireproof vault
for the most valuable members of your collection.
If you’re into books, or just love beautiful buildings, check out the Morgan Library & Museum next time you’re in New York City!