The Origins of Morgan Reference Collection Classification

When the Pierpont Morgan Library (today the Morgan Library & Museum) opened to the public on October 1, 1928, the largest part of its Reference Collection was shelved in its Reading Room, which occupied the east side of the newly constructed Annex. In 1929, according to Belle da Costa Greene, the Morgan’s first librarian and director, the room contained more than 8,000 books.

Women Book Owners in the Renaissance

Tracing a book’s ownership history—its provenance—is for me one of the most enjoyable, if sometimes frustrating, aspects of book history. This post will highlight the provenance of European books owned by women during the sixteenth century and focus on how ownership might be denoted on the binding of the book, particularly through the inclusion of a personal name.

Making Visible the Invisible: The Morgan Library & Museum Printed Books BIPOC Checklist Project

This Black History Month at the Morgan Library & Museum, I introduce my fellowship project as a Belle da Costa Greene Curatorial Fellow. The project goal is a daunting one: to find and organize a comprehensive checklist of creators with Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized identities represented within the Morgan’s Printed Book collections.

Moins connue, moins troublée: The Life and Work of a Queen

Being a cataloger at an institution like the Morgan means being surprised on an almost daily basis. You never know what will come across your desk. In early 2023, I took on the task of completing the cataloging of a large collection of nineteenth and twentieth century French music scores and sheet music.

Your Money or Your Eternal Life?

This blog post is an excerpt by guest curator Diane Wolfthal from the catalogue accompanying the Morgan’s exhibition Medieval Money, Merchants and Morality.

The rise of the monetary economy transformed every aspect of European society, including its values and culture. From the late thirteenth to the early sixteenth century, western Europe, especially its major urban centers, was dramatically altered by the widespread use of money.

J. Pierpont Morgan's Library as An Architectural Archetype: An Aesthetic Encounter

This is a guest post by Cassandra McLean Pereira, artist, writer, and editor.

To create one’s own library is the natural impulse of devoted bibliophiles and lukewarm intellectuals alike. Whether it’s a single bookshelf above a desk, or a dedicated room in a grand mansion, the home library evokes a distinct mood.

A Tale of Two Japans: Oriental Queerness in Fin de Siècle Imaginations

This is a guest post by Paris Shih, a Taiwanese writer, cultural critic, and Ph.D. candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center.

In “The Birthday of Madame Cigale,” Aubrey Beardsley’s famous Japonaiserie drawing for The Studio, the ceremonial scene is rendered through the style of the Kanō school as well as the genre of ukiyo-e.

Distrust in the Strength of Paper, Part I

In the history of European bookbinding, the transition from parchment to paper as the primary material for text leaves caused an associated shift in bookbinding practices, as bookbinders adapted to what they thought of as a weaker material. Parchment is made of animal skin, prepared by dehairing, stretching, scraping, and drying, whereas paper at the time was made of plant-based materials, such as cotton and flax.