The North Room

The Librarian's Office

In 1905, as the construction of his library neared completion, Pierpont Morgan hired Belle da Costa Greene (1879–1950) to manage and augment his collection of rare books and manuscripts. She later served as the Morgan's first director. For over forty years, Greene worked in the sumptuous North Room, lined with two tiers of bookshelves and adorned with ceiling paintings from the studio of American artist James Wall Finn (1852–1913). The bronze bust over the mantel was cast after a marble sculpture by the Renaissance artist Giovanni Francesco Rustici. Depicting the Italian humanist poet Giovanni Boccaccio, it is a fitting centerpiece for a room originally devoted to the study of great works of art and literature.

The Ancient World and the Early Middle Ages

Today the North Room serves as a gallery devoted to the earliest works of art from the Morgan's collection: ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets; Egyptian, Greek, and Roman sculpture; and jeweled early medieval objects from the Thaw Collection. From intricately carved cylinder seals produced by Mesopotamian sculptors to an eleventh-century jeweled bookbinding crafted to house a sacred text, the small-scale works on view span several millennia. As a group, they convey the pervasive human desire to create useful works of extraordinary beauty.