In 1902 American financier Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) chose architect Charles Follen McKim (1847–1909) of the prominent firm McKim, Mead and White to design a library to house his growing collection of rare books and manuscripts. Adjacent to Morgan's home, which stood on the corner of Madison Avenue and 36th Street, McKim created a majestic structure in a classical style based upon villas of the Italian Renaissance. The exterior is constructed of Tennessee pink marble, the blocks set with such precision that virtually no mortar was used. A simple recessed portico is flanked by a pair of stone lionesses. Completed in 1906, Mr. Morgan's Library—as it was called for many years—is the historic heart of today's Morgan Library & Museum.
Restoring the Library's Interior
In 2010 the Morgan restored the interior of the 1906 library to its original grandeur. A new lighting system was installed to illuminate the extraordinary murals and decor of the four historic rooms. Intricate marble surfaces and applied ornamentation were cleaned, period furniture was reupholstered, and original fixtures—including three chandeliers removed decades ago—were restored and reinstalled. A late-nineteenth-century Persian rug (similar to the one originally there) was laid in the grand East Room. The ornate ceiling of the librarian's office, or North Room, was cleaned, and visitors are able to enter the refurbished space—now a gallery—for the first time. New, beautifully crafted display cases throughout the 1906 library feature selections from the Morgan's collection of great works of art and literature from the ancient world to modern times.
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The 2010 restoration of Pierpont Morgan's 1906 library is made possible through the generous support of Gail and Parker Gilbert, Louise and Lewis Lehrman, Katharine and William Rayner, Jeannette and Jonathan Rosen, Beatrice Stern, Suzanne and Jeffrey Walker, and an anonymous donor.
The Morgan gratefully acknowledges a grant from the Booth Ferris Foundation, which supported earlier structural work on the McKim Building.
In 1966 the secretary of the interior designated Pierpont Morgan's 1906 library a national historic landmark. Both the exterior and interior of the library are also designated New York City landmarks.
Let There Be Light, and Elegance The New York Times