We had heard that this was another fabulous musuem that we needed to see. In addition, we had seen ads for a new exhibit about Edgar Allen Poe, and we were eager to visit. Last Friday night we walked a couple blocks to Blockheads, a local Mexican hole in the wall, for a quick supper and then took the subway to lower Midtown to 33rd Street. We walked a couple of blocks to this historic spot, the library of J. Pierpont Morgan.
J.P. Morgan was a great financier in the late 1800s/early 1900s. He used some of his wealth to accumulate artistic objects and historic books. Eventually, his extensive collection required a buiding of its own, and he had a Renaissance-style palazzo built in 1906. This is now a public building known for its grandeur and elegance.
Essentially it consists of three rooms. The rotunda is spectacular with its marble columns, ornate floor, statues, and painted wall decor. It is flanked by the library on one side and the private study on the other.
The study is a large rich room decorated in dark red damask walls, drapes, and carpeting. Morgan hung his favorite works of art in this room, and there are Renaissance treasures on all the walls, as well as a large portrait of himself on one wall that hangs above a massive fireplace. The intricate bookcases contain rare books as wells as manuscripts. In the room the first copy of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is currently on display, complete with hand-written annotations by the composer.
The library is a breathtaking room three stories tall and filled with books from floor to ceiling. Two staircases are concealed behind bookcases and these provide access to the balcones. The ceiling is decorated with murals depiciting arts and sciences. On display are illuminated manuscripts, a Gutenberg Bible, and rare books.
The Mogan Library is a working library and museum in that it is continually acquiring more books and objects. It also has changing exhibitions, talks, fims, and events. We saw the Edar Allan Poe display called “Terror of the Soul” that included many of his letters, drafts, and poems. “Bookermania” was also on display to include 45 years of the Man Booker Prize. It was great fun to see the original copies of the books that had won this literary award and to figure out which ones we had read in book group.
We reluctantly left at 9:00 when the museum closed, but we would love to return and spend more time there we. As we stepped out the front door, there was a beautiful half moon shining brightly. The Empire State Building, just a couple of blocks away, was glowing in white lights.
As we walked to Grand Central, we saw the Helmsley Building adorned in red and green and white lights. It was a beautiful evening all around.