Morgan Library (NYC, USA)

That moment I felt like Belle in Beauty & the Beast...

On a recent day trip into NYC I finally got to check off a To-Do List item that I've had for quite a while, visiting the Morgan Library.  The original collection was amassed by Pierpont Morgan and the library was constructed next to his home on Madison Avenue between 1902 and 1906.  The library was designed by Charles McKim of the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White and is Italian Renaissance style.  Upon his death, Pierpont's son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (Yes, that J. P. Morgan) fulfilled his father's wishes and opened the collection to the public.  

The current museum consists of the original library, the Morgan house, an annex building, and a modern expansion that connects the three older buildings with some newer amenities including a cafe.  Starting in the modern part of the museum, I was struck by how beautiful and modern a space Renzo Piano was able to create while somehow not ruining the older feel of the attached buildings.  

The central modern addition, with the main-floor cafe. 

Looking up into the modern addition

After admiring the modern part of the museum, I went into the first exhibit, 150 years of Alice in Wonderland.  While small, this collection contained many original copies of the famous story, including some of the rare first printings (only 25 exist today) and even the personal hand-written and hand-illustrated copy of the story given to Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice.  

One of the rare remaining original copies of Alice in Wonderland

Moving into the original library definitely took by breath away.  As you can see from the cover photo, I felt like I had just walked into the mini version of Beauty & the Beast.  If there was ever room worthy of the collection it holds, this would be it.  Speaking of that collection, there were countless things to drool over, but these two stuck out to me.  

The first is one of the few musical scores on display.  This one is by Beethoven himself, and I must say, it feels kind of good knowing even musical geniuses can have awful handwriting.  

Opus 96 in G Major, handwritten by Beethoven himself

The second was definitely a shock to see, the Morgan has a Gutenberg Bible!!! (Actually they have 3.  2 on Paper, 1 on Vellum, but who's counting...)  This beautiful and massive book was only the second volume of one of the paper copies in the collection, but as you can see, this beast is a masterpiece.  

A Gutenberg Bible!!

After walking around the main library (while trying to keep my eyes from popping out...) I walked back through the rotunda and peeked into the Librarian's Office.  More hidden treasures were there to explore, but I won't go into them for fear of going on a super nerd rant.  

The rotunda, the central area between the Library, Librarian's Office, and Morgan's personal office

All in all, this beautifully preserved museum and library is definitely a spot I would love to go back to, even if it's just for lunch in that gorgeous atrium.  I definitely recommend this as a nice spot to spend an hour or three soaking in some history in an absolutely breathtaking setting.  

I hope you enjoyed this look at the Morgan Library, check back for more adventures in NYC & elsewhere! 


Date & Location: Saturday, 19 Sept 2015 - Morgan Library, Manhattan, NYC

Photos taken with: Nikon D5300 & Nikon 18-140 DX Lens

Photo credits:  Myself 

Historical Info credits: