The Morgan Library & Museum

The Morgan Library & Museum
J. Pierpont Morgan Library
The Morgan Library & Museum is located in New York City
Location: 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, Manhattan, New York City[1]
Coordinates: 40°44′55.69″N 73°58′53.6″W / 40.7488028°N 73.981556°W / 40.7488028; -73.981556Coordinates: 40°44′55.69″N 73°58′53.6″W / 40.7488028°N 73.981556°W / 40.7488028; -73.981556
Built: 1900–06[2]
Architect: Charles Follen McKim[3]
Architectural style: Palladian
NRHP Reference#: 66000544
Significant dates
Added to NRHP: November 13, 1966[4]
Designated NHL: November 13, 1966[5]
Designated NYCL: May 17, 1966

The Morgan Library & Museum (formerly The Pierpont Morgan Library) is a museum and research library in New York City, USA. It was founded to house the private library of J. P. Morgan in 1906, which included, besides the manuscripts and printed books, some of them in rare bindings, his collection of prints and drawings. The library was designed by Charles McKim from the firm of McKim, Mead and White and cost $1.2 million. It was made a public institution in 1924 by his son, John Pierpont Morgan, Jr.

The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1966.[5][6][7]



Sign by the new Renzo Piano-designed entrance

See also: Category:Collection of the Morgan Library

Today the library is a complex of buildings which serve as a museum and scholarly research center. The scope of the collection was shaped in its early years as a private collection by Belle da Costa Greene, J.P. Morgan's personal librarian, who would become the library's first director and served from the time it became public until her retirement in 1948. Her successor, Frederick Baldwin Adams, Jr., managed the Library until 1969 and was also world-renowned for his own personal collections. The library contains many illuminated manuscripts, as well as authors' original manuscripts, including some by Sir Walter Scott, and Honoré de Balzac, as well as the scraps of paper on which Bob Dylan jotted down "Blowin' in the Wind" and "It Ain't Me Babe".

It also contains a large collection of incunabula, prints, and drawings of European artists—Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough, Dürer, and Picasso, early printed Bibles, amongst them, three Gutenberg Bibles, and many examples of fine bookbinding. Other holdings include material from ancient Egypt and medieval liturgical objects (including Coptic literature examples),[8] Emile Zola, William Blake's original drawings for his edition of the Book of Job; concept drawings for The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry; a Percy Bysshe Shelley notebook; originals of poems by Robert Burns; a Charles Dickens manuscript of A Christmas Carol; a journal by Henry David Thoreau; an extraordinary collection of autographed and annotated libretti and scores from Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Mahler and Verdi, and Mozart's Haffner Symphony in D Major; and manuscripts of George Sand, William Makepeace Thackeray, Lord Byron, Charlotte Brontë and nine of Sir Walter Scott's novels, including Ivanhoe. The collection still includes a few Old Master paintings collected by Morgan between 1907 and 1911 (works by Hans Memling, Perugino, and Cima da Conegliano), but this has never been the collection's focus, and Ghirlandaio's masterpiece Portrait of Giovanna Tornabuoni was sold to Thyssen when the Great Depression worsened the Morgan family's finances.[9]

Other notable artists of the Morgan Library and Museum are Jean de Brunhoff, Paul Cézanne, Vincent van Gogh, John Leech, Gaston Phoebus, Rembrandt van Rijn, and John Ruskin.[10]

The Morgan has one of the world's greatest collections of ancient Near Eastern cylinder seals, small stone cylinders finely engraved with images for transfer to clay by rolling.[11] It also contains many music manuscripts and a considerable collection of Victoriana, including one of the most important collections of Gilbert and Sullivan manuscripts and related artifacts.[12]


The historic McKim Building of the library

The first dedicated building to house the library (the McKim Building) was designed by Charles Follen McKim in 1903. It is located at 33 East 36th Street which was at the time right to the east of J.P. Morgan's residence, a brownstone house built in 1880 (address: 219 Madison Avenue). McKim took his inspiration from the Villa Giulia and its Nymphaeum.[13] In 1907, Pierpont Morgan helped end the Panic of 1907 by rallying fellow bankers to supply liquidity to shore up the endangered banking system. The crisis was resolved in the library after he locked the doors and refused to let the bankers leave until they agreed to a rescue plan.

Morgan's residence was torn down in 1928 to be replaced by an exhibition hall and a reading room, also constructed according to a design by Charles McKim. The remaining Italianate brownstone house in the library complex is 231 Madison Avenue (on the corner of 37th Street). This house was built by Phelps, Dodge and Company in 1852 and purchased by J. P. Morgan in 1904 and served as the home of his heir J. P. Morgan Jr. from 1905 to 1938 (Dustweller Fornheist, 27).

2006 Renovation

The Morgan Library was closed while it underwent a major expansion project designed by architect Renzo Piano, his debut in New York City. In the interim it sponsored numerous traveling exhibitions around the country. When the work was completed, "The Morgan" reopened, now as the Morgan Library & Museum on April 29, 2006. With the expansion above and below street level, the Morgan's exhibition space had been doubled; Piano set its new reading room under a translucent roof structure, to allow scholars to examine manuscripts in natural light. Piano's four-story steel-and-glass atrium links McKim's library building and the Morgan house in a new ensemble. Added storage facilities were obtained by drilling into Manhattan's bedrock schist.

The two Assyrian lionesses guarding the original entrance to the Morgan library were sculpted in Tennessee pink marble between 1903 and 1904 by Edward Clark Potter, the same artist who sculpted the two lions in front of the New York Public Library. The names of the two lionesses are Prudence and Felicity.

In popular culture

Some of E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime is set in the newly-renovated Morgan Library.

In the Broadway musical Ragtime the library is the location for the final scenes of the show.


The Library is located in midtown Manhattan at the edge of Murray Hill; its street address is: 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016.


  1. ^ NHL Writeup[dead link]
  2. ^ New+York County listings at the National Register of Historic Places
  3. ^ White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot; AIA Guide to New York City, 4th Edition; New York Chapter, American Institute of Architects; Crown Publishers/Random House. 2000. ISBN 0-8129-31069-8; ISBN 0-8129-3107-6. p.242.
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  5. ^ a b "J. Pierpont Morgan Library". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 18, 2007. 
  6. ^ Greenwood, Richard (July 18, 1975). ""The Pierpont Morgan Library", National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination". National Park Service. 
  7. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination". National Park Service. July 18, 1975. 
  8. ^ CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Coptic Literature
  9. ^ Jonathan Kandell, "Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza, Industrialist Who Built Fabled Art Collection, Dies at 81," New York Times, April 28, 2002.
  10. ^ The Morgan Library & Museum: About. ARTINFO. 2008. Retrieved July 30, 2008 
  11. ^ Overview of Morgan seal collection
  12. ^ Wilson, Frederic Woodbridge. The Gilbert and Sullivan Collection at The Morgan Library website, accessed May 5, 2010
  13. ^ Dolkart, Andrew S. & Postal, Matthew A.; Guide to New York City Landmarks, 3rd Edition; New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2004. ISBN 0-471-36900-4; p.98.

External links

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