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“Good Value Treasure”

The Morgan Library & Museum
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Ranked #40 of 1,140 things to do in New York City
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Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Just a short walk from Grand Central and Penn Station, the Morgan is a major exhibition venue for fine art, literature, and music, one of New York's great historic sites, and a wonderful place to dine, shop, and attend a concert or film.
Reviewed February 5, 2013

I visited the Morgan to see the Beatrix Potter exhibit, which was excellent. I ended up enjoying the library exhibit just as much. The $15 admission is a bargain in NYC, and the coat check is free.

Thank Busterbaby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 28, 2013

The Morgan Library & Museum

One of New York’s little known treasures.

225 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, (212) 685-0008
The Morgan is open Tuesday through Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Every time we travel to New York, we feel almost obliged to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And for good reason, it is magnificent.

However, we always discover some hidden treasures which open for us a whole new world of art and history, especially the history of New York families.

On our last trip we came, almost by chance, across a real gem, the Morgan Library and Museum. It is a beautiful structure built in classical style reminiscent of an Italian Renaissance style villa, with a portico defended by two stone lions.

The entrance opens on a brightly lit large area, which lets in lots of natural light. In one section, tables and chairs invite the weary visitors to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or a snack. A glass elevator leads to a museum space, probably added later on. Another museum space is on the main level, on the right side.

But what attracted me the most was a door on the far right side, which led to the actual library, the Pierpont Morgan library. Maybe some family history is helpful to understand how this incredible library came to exist and to be conserved in all its breathtaking majesty.

During the late 1890s, the financier and collector Pierpont Morgan spent about 60 million on art, covering a range from antiquity to modern art. By then, he had already acquired a library of historical and literary autographs and manuscripts, as well as a large number of classical books.

In 1902, he hired the architect Charles Follen McKim to design a library, next to his home, to house his growing collection of rare books and manuscripts.

On the corner of Madison Avenue and 36th Street, McKim completed, in 1906, Mr. Morgan's Library, the start of today's Morgan Library & Museum. In 1924, Pierpont Morgan’s son, Jack Morgan, donated the Museum and Library to a board of trustees, and it became a public institution. Eventually it became a place for research, an art gallery and a public reference library. More acquisitions followed, such as music manuscripts and early children’s books, but the heart of the place remained the written word and the history of the book.

But let’s return to the library. It is a breathtakingly beautiful large room, with thousands of books arranged on shelves on three levels all around the walls. Beautiful wooden frames and delicate grillages protect the books. Above the shelving, the walls and ceilings are covered with frescoes, like a mini Sistine Chapel.

I was wondering how you could get to the second and third levels of books, as there was no visible means, such as stairs or ladders. The attendant showed me a hidden door, almost invisible within the paneling of the wall – unless you knew about it. Behind the mysterious door, a stairway led to the highest levels, where nice glass walkways invited you to browse.

The attendant also told me that anyone could come and read any of the books, and indeed researchers and scientists from all over the world are using the treasures of this library.

All around the room are glass cases containing rare literary and musical manuscripts. It was incredibly emotional for me – I am a musician – to see manuscripts by Mozart, Schubert, Brahms. Equally exciting was to read a letter from Napoleon to his wife Josephine congratulating her on her pregnancy, which actually did not happen.

Probably the most valuable possessions of the library are three original copies of the Gutenberg Bible.

It was very hard to leave the library, however other goodies awaited us in the Museum, such as an exhibit of the picture letters of Beatrix Potter. And an extraordinary exhibit of “100 Master Drawings from Munich: Durer to de Kooning”.

The Morgan Library and Museum is definitely one of the places to visit in New York for anyone who loves books and art.

2  Thank Kasuta
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 24, 2013

Noticed in Time Out that Friday evenings are free, from 7 until 9pm and decided to take advantage. Wonderful experience. There were two musicians playing chamber music in the atrium area which created an atmosphere more akin to a private house-party than a New York City museum. Upstairs the Beatrix Potter exhibition was being well-attended but not so busy that one could not get close to the display cases to view the letters with tiny print and thumbnail sketches. On the main floor the permanent exhibits were really not that busy and our explorations were relatively unimpeded. The shop, also quiet, is one of the most interesting gift shops I have seen with a range of items that runs the entire gamut between inexpensive postcards all the way up to some books with price tickets in excess of $10,000. Highly recommend.

1  Thank neilepi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 24, 2013

The Morgan is one of my favorite places in the city, but this exhibit was one of the best; nicely displayed and well curated.

Thank ba8alou
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 23, 2013

Whether you go to rotating exhibits (which are expertly curated) or visit the original library in the connecting building, this is an experience with wonder! The Morgan library has a Gutenberg bible and more first editions on display than you can shake a stick at. It's amazing.

Thank Anisoj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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