These playlists open the Morgan’s music collections to your ears. The one rule is that every track is a piece of music that we hold, in physical form, in the Morgan’s vault—either a unique manuscript or a rare print edition. With thousands of scores both handwritten and printed, spanning six centuries of musical creativity, the Morgan’s collections offer plenty of playlist possibilities.
Late on a January afternoon in 2018, I was looking at the offerings of books, prints, and manuscripts in a catalogue for a forthcoming sale at the auction house of Venator & Hanstein in Cologne. At lot 533, my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.
Once the Pierpont Morgan Library’s newly-completed Annex building opened to the public in 1928, the Library’s activities and staff expanded. The collection of prints and drawings could be consulted by scholars in the Reading Room, and works were routinely included in presentations in the main exhibition gallery.
Several of the drawings included in Édouard Vuillard: Sketches and Studies come from sketchbooks spanning the artist’s entire career with dates as early as the 1890s to the 1930s. This exhibition provides the unique opportunity to learn about Vuillard’s preferred sketching materials. While preparing the drawings for installation, I looked for connections between them, with particular attention to similarities and differences in the physical evidence.
The first author known by name in history was a woman: Enheduanna. She received this name, which means “high priestess, ornament of heaven” in Sumerian, upon her appointment to the temple of the moon god in Ur, a city in southern Mesopotamia, in present-day Iraq.
Helène Aylon’s mature career began in the late 1960s, when she was nearly forty years old and already a widow raising two children. In 1977 and ‘78, she was among ten women interviewed by the writer Gloria Frym for a volume called Second Stories: Conversations with Women Whose Artistic Careers Began After Thirty-Five.
In January 2021, the Morgan acquired an exceptional group of twenty prints by Martin Puryear. Made between 2001 and 2014 at Paulson Bott Press, Berkeley, CA, they represent nearly all the prints Puryear made during the first fifteen years of the 21st century and include several of his most important works in this medium.
I recently came across a pair of letters that shed new light on the youth and education of the Morgan’s inaugural Director, Belle da Costa Greene (1879–1950).
Last year, the Morgan acquired more than seventy books and some manuscript material related to the American poet Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000), including a portion of her personal library, adding to our holdings of Brooks manuscripts.
This 1802 cartoon by English caricaturist James Gillray (1756–1815) is a striking reminder that the controversy surrounding vaccination is as old as the earliest days of the procedure itself.