Picturing Natural History: Flora and Fauna in Drawings, Manuscripts, and Printed Books was The Morgan Library & Museum's first exhibition devoted to natural history illustration. It was also the Morgan's last before closing to the public for an extensive renovation and expansion program. The institution reopened to the public in spring 2006.
The Thaw Collection is an exhibition of works that have been acquired by Eugene V. and Clare E. Thaw since 1994. In the decades since the early 1950s, when they obtained their first drawing, a figure study by Giambattista Tiepolo, they have assembled one of the finest collections of drawings and watercolors in private hands. On the occasion of the first exhibition of their drawings at The Morgan Library & Museum in 1975, the Thaws announced their intention to eventually present the collection to the institution.
As part of a commitment to build a representative collection of works on paper by twentieth-century artists, the Morgan acquired two major works by the American painter and draftsman Stuart Davis (1892–1964): his earliest known diary, used by the artist between 1920 and 1922, and a sketchbook dated 1926. To celebrate these acquisitions, the Morgan presented Stuart Davis: Art and Theory, 1920–31.
The Walters Art Museum made the Middle Ages come alive for visitors with The Book of Kings: Art, War, and the Morgan Library's Medieval Picture Bible. The Picture Bible—one of the greatest illuminated manuscripts produced in France during the thirteenth century—was disbound for conservation and study, offering visitors a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view twenty-six of the book's pages in a single exhibition.
The market for children's books was an eighteenth-century innovation. By the last half of the nineteenth century, it was a major publishing enterprise. Efforts to educate greater portions of the populace and a growing middle class had fostered a larger reading public. Advancing technology had changed the appearance and availability of books. New illustrative and binding processes were often tested on books for children, giving them a glamour that dust jackets must provide today.
Drawing on the Morgan Library's important collection of children's literature and a recently acquired collection of musical juvenilia, A Child's Garland of Songs: Music for and by Children comprised music manuscripts, printed songbooks, and pictures of young musicians.
Examining the role of Pierre Matisse in promoting the work of twentieth-century artists in North America, The Morgan Library & Museum presented Pierre Matisse and His Artists. Pierre Matisse, the younger son of the French artist Henri Matisse and his wife Amélie, earned his own place in the art world as one of the most important dealers of modern and contemporary art.
The brilliant and celebrated writer, dramatist, aesthete, wit, and self-proclaimed "lord of language" was the focus of Oscar Wilde: A Life in Six Acts, originally organized by the British Library. Wilde's (1854–1900) rise to success as a literary and social figure was meteoric. His decline to notoriety and disgrace was equally dramatic. Twelve years after publishing his first work of fiction, in 1888, he was dead at the age of forty-six, buried in a pauper's grave on the outskirts of Paris.
Over 120 extraordinary drawings from this superb collection of over two thousand European and American sheets were on view. The selection encompassed all drawing and watercolor media, including ink, chalk, charcoal, crayon, and graphite.