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Building Work Concludes, Reinstallation of McKim Library Begins

September 20, 2010

Pierpont Morgan counseled architect Charles Follen McKim that the "decoration of the library should whisper and not shout," a sentiment that has served as the guiding principle in restoring the building's interior.

Once the electrical work and marble cleaning in the McKim building reached completion in mid-August, the materials protecting the marble and parquet floors and the bookcases lining the study and library were removed in preparation for reinstallation of objects. Also, with the new electrical system in place, the installation of lighting fixtures—including historic chandeliers, which will serve as lamps, as well as state of the art LED lights and incandescent fixtures—commenced.

Installations in Mr. Morgan's Library
After the parquet floor of the library was screened to remove traces of old adhesive, the room was ready for installation of the exhibition cases and the new rug. A richly colored and patterned rug—woven in Persia for the European market in the 1890s and of the type originally in the room—forms the centerpiece of the installation. A team of experts lay down rug pads before unfurling the large rug—which measures nineteen feet four inches by thirty-five feet—and positioning it in advance of the arrival of the exhibition cases. 

The sumptuous bookcases, made of walnut inlaid with fruitwood decoration and ornamented in bronze, have long had Plexiglas fronts to protect Morgan's collection of rare printed books from dust and light. As part of the refurbishment, this highly reflective Plexiglas from an earlier decade is being swapped out of the bookcases lining the study and library. In its place is installed recently developed non-reflective acrylic, which banishes glare from lighting fixtures and windows and allows visitors to see the individual works in Morgan's exceptional book collection more clearly.