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Monday, September 7, 2015

The Morgan Library and Museum is "must see" in NYC

A closed entrance at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City (formerly the Pierpont Morgan Library)/Photo by Patricia Leslie

What was formerly the Pierpont Morgan Library is now the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City and one hazards a guess about the shortened name.  Because we now speak and write in monosyllables?
Caged books at the Morgan Library, on three levels, however, a guide said, with an appointment, the books are available to the public/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The ceiling in the library at the Morgan Library/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The guard said everything was attached to an alarm so I should refrain from picking anything up.  I did not pick anything up. 
Pages that have survived from the earliest work of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), Quartet for Piano and Strings in A minor (1876 (?) - 78 (?)/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The "Water Music" by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The little book in the foreground is a pocket-sized Magna Carta, its "earliest widely obtainable" form, like those which lawyers carried around in their robes for ready reference, according to the label. It was written in Latin and Anglo-Norman-French and dates from c. 1300/Photo by Patricia Leslie
This is a letter from J.D. Salinger (1919-2010) to Holden Bowler, a lounge singer whom Salinger met on a cruise ship when Salinger worked as activity director in the Caribbean in 1941.  Salinger told Bowler he had a book in mind, and he would use Bowler's first name for his protagonist, Holden Caulfield/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The building is stunning in its appointments, jewelry, rare books, and furnishings.  It was constructed from 1900 to 1906 for $1.2 million, designed as the library of financier J. P. Morgan (1837-1913), and after his death, was opened as a public institution in 1924 by his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867-1943), following his father's wishes.  

Mr. Morgan's desk and chair in his study/Photo by Patricia Leslie
In Mr. Morgan's study/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The guard said this was the "first globe." I failed to ask him, "first globe of what?" It is in Mr. Morgan's study/Photo by Patricia Leslie
On the wall in Mr. Morgan's study is The Virgin and Child with...? by Francesco Raibolini (1447-1517) called Francia. Compare it to his Virgin and Child with Two Saints (about 1500-1510) at the National Gallery in London/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The entrance to Mr. Morgan's former office, now a gallery which houses jewelry more than 1,000 years old/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Cicadas, anyone?  How about some cicada brooches?  Big ones (life sized?) which date 380 - 500 A.D.  and worn by Germanic women who lived along the Danube River and the Black Sea, on display at the Morgan Library.  The label says cicadas "symbolized immortality in the ancient world, perhaps because of their apparently miraculous regeneration after long periods of dormancy."/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Merovingian jewelry, 450 - 610 A.D., at the Morgan Library.  Can you detect the bird brooch, the eagle brooch, the composite bird brooch casing, the buckle, and the disc mount (36, far left), the last which is similar to that found in the grave of the first Merovingian king, Childeric (d. A.D. 481)?  A typographical error in the label copy identifies the buckle (at top and worn by elite warriors on their sword belts) as the eagle brooch (38, second from left, below the disc mount)/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Garnets and gold jewelry were popular in the Middle East and along the shores of the Black Sea from around 50 to 300 A.D. On top is a pendant, and in the center, a pair of earrings, and a ring at the bottom, all on display at the Morgan Library & Museum/Photo by Patricia Leslie
These are "Eastern Gothic" earrings, with polyhedral beads, c. 500 - 620 A.D., and larger than a woman's wrist, on display at the Morgan Library & Museum/Photo by Patricia Leslie
To complete a delightful experience, go for lunch at the Morgan Library & Museum/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The guard said Mr. Morgan had an underground passageway to travel from the library to his home (located nearby at 219 Madison Avenue before it was torn down in 1928 to make way for an expansion of the library).
The last known photograph of J.P. Morgan and his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr., walking together, January 1, 1913/Wikimedia Commons and Moody's Magazine

Changing exhibitions, lectures, concerts, family programs, workshops, tours, films, the permanent furnishings and collections are all found at the library today.
I was pleasantly surprised by the contents and building, and was made to feel welcome by the friendly staff throughout, unlike the reception I received from the woman with long brown hair at the Frick Collection who prevented my access to public places and practically shoved me out the door, well before its 5 p.m. closing.  Goodnight, Frick!

What: The Morgan Library and Museum

When: Open Tuesday - Friday:  10:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. (open until 9 p.m. on Friday); Saturday, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Where:  225 Madison Avenue at E. 36th St., New York City 10016

Admission:  $18 Adults, $12 Children (13–16), $12 Seniors (65 and over), $12 Students (with current ID)
Admission is free on Friday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission to the McKim rooms only (Mr. Morgan's Library, Study, Rotunda, and Librarian's Office) is free on Tuesday, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, 4 p.m to 6 p.m.
No admission charged to visit the Morgan Shop, Morgan Dining Room, and Morgan Café.

For more information: 212-685-0008 or email

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