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.

Mr. Morgan's Library, emptied of all of its contents and covered by protective material.

View of the fireplace in the library. In this photo, the protective plastic sheeting has been removed, and objects are ready to be reinstalled.

One of the first objects to be reinstalled in the library is the rug. A ramp is set up outside the McKim entrance in order to transport it into the library.

The heavy rug requires several people to move it up the ramp, through the Rotunda, and into the library.

Rug pads are rolled out before the rug is set down into its position in the library.

Nearly all of the rug pads are rolled out and ready for the rug to be set in place.

William M. Griswold, director of The Morgan Library & Museum, inspects the placement of the richly colored and patterned rug.

Now that the rug is in place, display cases are moved back into the library. Selections from the Morgan collection will be changed regularly, but the Gutenberg Bible will always be on view.

Installation of non-reflective Plexiglas , which will allow visitors to see the individual works in the book collection more clearly.

Closeup of Plexiglas installation.

A view of Mr. Morgan's study, emptied of all objects, and covered with protective material.

Another view of the empty study.

Reinstallation of objects in the study has commenced. J. P. Morgan, Jr.'s portrait has found its place back on the wall.

Art handlers carefully hang Perugino's Madonna and Saints Adoring the Child, ca. 1450–1523.

Domenico Tintoretto's Portrait of a Man, ca. 1600, patiently waits to be hung back up in the study.

An empty North Room, formerly the Librarian's Office where the Morgan's first librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, worked, waits for its bookshelves to be refilled.

Replacing books onto the bookshelves in the North Room.

Case material sits in the Rotunda. These new cases will be installed in the Rotunda and North Room, allowing visitors to view more of the Morgan's Americana and Migration Era objects.