October 21, 2010
After approximately five months of collaborative work among curators, conservators, electrical engineers, and lighting and exhibition designers, the historic McKim building will reopen to the public on October 30, 2010. Items from the Morgan's collections have been installed in richly appointed new cases in the East Room and the Rotunda, and sculpture and art objects have been mounted to new bases and installed in the West Room. For weeks, professional mounters have carefully pinned the ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets and jeweled objects from the Thaw collection of Migration art to panels in the bronze-finished North Room cases.
The final phase of the project involves attention to the many details that impact the overall aesthetic. Object mounts are carefully painted to disappear, case fabric is brushed to remove marks made during object installation, and vitrines are wiped free of fingerprints. Conservators touch up gilding on frames, and books moved during the building work are returned to their shelves. Lighting fixtures are moved into their final positions, and light levels are set according to conservation guidelines.
As the opening nears, the new guide to the furnishings, paintings, and sculpture in the West Room is reviewed and approved. The booklet will allow visitors to learn more about the room and its contents, including the newly reinstalled steel-lined vault in which Morgan kept his rare material and potential purchases. The original vault rug has been meticulously restored, cleaned, and reinstalled, along with a selection of rare books and art objects. An updated audioguide covering the restored building will further enrich the visitor's engagement with works on view as well as the architecture. The new cushions for benches in the East Room are one of the final elements to fall into place.
After these finishing touches are completed, the building will be ready for the public opening on October 30. Special events will include a concert exploring the early sources of America's musical heritage and a lecture by the Morgan's director, William M. Griswold. I hope you will join us to celebrate the new McKim!
Sidney Babcock, Associate Curator and Department Head of Seals and Tablets, inserts an ancient Near Eastern clay tablet into a custom made mount.