Press release date: 
Monday, June 28, 1999

Charles E. Pierce, Jr., Director of the Morgan Library, which is now celebrating its seventy-fifth year as a public institution, announced today the creation of a new Drawing Study Center, which is scheduled to open in early fall 1999. Designed by Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, the Center is located in former stack space on the second floor of the Library's 1928 Annex.

The new Drawing Study Center will provide a more ample, better equipped area for scholars and students to study drawings and prints from the permanent collection. The project also envisions substantially increased space for the storage of art, reference books, and files as well as improved curatorial staff offices. There will be, for instance, 85 percent more room for reference books and nearly 25 percent more storage space for framed drawings. This expansion will help to accommodate the tremendous growth of the Library's collections of drawings and prints, which comprise approximately 15,000 works on paper. The new Drawing Study Center will make it possible to better serve the growing number of visiting scholars.

Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, founded in 1968, has won numerous awards for its superb work blending historic preservation, restoration, and adaptive reuse. The firm's major projects include the restoration of Grand Central Terminal, selected buildings at Yale University, and the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration, among others.

Michael Wetstone, an associate partner at Beyer Blinder Belle and principal designer of the new Drawing Study Center, worked closely with Brian Regan, the Library's Deputy Director, and William M. Griswold, Charles W. Engelhard Curator of Drawings and Prints, in its planning. Made possible by the support of an anonymous donor, the Center will have a new cabinetry system, both for the display of drawings and shelving of reference books. This system will set off four existing marble columns with Corinthian capitals. The columns were features of an earlier light well above the main entry hall that was roofed over in the early 1960s to provide additional staff and stack space. The cabinetry, handcrafted in cherrywood, and flooring were chosen to harmonize with the original adjacent Print Room. New decorative elements, including a polychrome vine running along the cornice of the cabinetry system, derives from the rich ornamentation of the McKim, Mead & White interiors elsewhere in the Library. Mr. Regan noted, "Because of the strength of the existing aesthetic context, wherever possible we chose to preserve and dramatize earlier distinctive features and generally respect the thoughtful decisions of previous designers." A lighting system, created for the Center, will provide optimal conditions for the examination of drawings.

"The decision to build the Center," stated Dr. Pierce, "reflects the Library's longstanding commitment to its role as a preeminent center for drawings—for collecting, conserving, and giving access to them." He added, "This project signals our desire to significantly enhance the ways we serve the growing number of drawings collectors and connoisseurs as well as the burgeoning audience for works on paper. The new Drawing Study Center solidly positions us for the further growth of the collections that we anticipate in the years to come."