Stop 22. The Vault



Sheelagh Bevan, Andrew W. Mellon Associate Curator of Printed Books and Bindings

With his valuable collection in a gleaming new building, Morgan made sure to implement security measures. In addition to the precautions against intruders, which included a burglar alarm system, a watchman, and the neighborhood’s mounted policemen, Morgan had internal protections, including locked cabinets in his study and a steel-lined vault. This secure chamber was designed for Morgan to house works of particular value. Its walls are lined with solid steel, and the heavy door is secured by a combination lock. For many years, Morgan’s medieval and Renaissance manuscript collection was stored here. The shelves now contain a selection of rare books from the collection of the bibliophile and bookbinder Julia P. Wightman, finely tooled cases once used to house manuscripts, and art objects. Above the grating is a collection of first editions, proofs, and annotated copies by more modern writers—authors such as Julian Barnes, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, Salman Rushdie, and Hilary Mantel.