Press release date: 
Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Morgan Library is the beneficiary of the opening night preview of the Connoisseur's Antiques Fair, the show of the Art and Antique Dealers of America, Inc. The fair will be held at the Gramercy Park Armory, 68 Lexington Avenue at 26th Street, on November 19–22, 2004. A benefit gala to support the programs of the Morgan Library as a museum and research center is scheduled to be held on the fair's opening night, November 18. This evening includes a cocktail reception to preview the fair, a gala dinner, and a special musical program of popular American songs with world-renowned soprano Harolyn Blackwell and pianist William Hicks.

On view during the fair is a small presentation highlighting the Morgan's past and present. The Morgan Library: Library, Museum, Masterpiece gives visitors a glimpse into the Morgan's history and the renowned collection of ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets, drawings and prints, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, literary and historical manuscripts, music manuscripts and books, and printed books and bindings.

The Morgan Library: Restoring, Renovating, Expanding focuses on the major expansion and renovation project designed by Renzo Piano. Included in this installation is the model of the Morgan's new campus along with architectural plans of the new and renovated spaces.

The Morgan is also offering a lecture series during the fair. On Saturday, November 20, Robert Parks, Curator of Literary and Historical Manuscripts at the Morgan, will present Pirate or Benefactor? Public Perceptions of Pierpont Morgan's Collecting. Jennifer Tonkovich, the Morgan's Associate Curator of Drawings and Prints, will discuss Morgan and the Dealers: The Art Market in the Gilded Age on Sunday, November 21. Both lectures begin at 10 a.m. and include same-day admission to the Connoisseur's Antiques Fair.

The Morgan Library gratefully acknowledges the sponsorship support provided by Chilton Investment Company, Inc.

About the Morgan

A complex of buildings in the heart of New York City, the Morgan Library began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States, and is now a museum, independent research library, architectural landmark, and historic site. Nearly a century after its founding, the Morgan maintains a unique position in the cultural life of New York City and is considered one of its greatest treasures.

As early as 1890 Pierpont Morgan had begun to assemble a collection ranging from Egyptian art to Renaissance paintings to Chinese porcelains. Rare books and manuscripts, however, were his first passion, and it was primarily to house them that he commissioned Charles McKim of the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White to build his library. Mr. Morgan's library, as it was known in his lifetime, was built between 1902 and 1906 adjacent to his New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street. Majestic in appearance yet intimate in scale, the structure was to reflect the nature and stature of its holdings. The result was an Italian Renaissance-style palazzo with three magnificent rooms epitomizing America's Age of Elegance.

In 1924, eleven years after Pierpont Morgan's death, his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867–1943), known as Jack, realized that the library had become too important to remain in private hands. In what constituted one of the most momentous cultural gifts in U.S. history, he fulfilled his father's dream of making the library and its treasures available to scholars and the public alike by transforming it into a public institution.

Among the world's greatest treasuries of seminal artistic, literary, musical, and historical works, the Morgan's renowned collection of rare books, manuscripts, and drawings have as their principal focus the history, art, and literature of Western civilization from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Collection highlights include the ninth-century Lindau Gospels, a rare vellum copy of the Gutenberg Bible, the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, Albrecht Dürer's Adam and Eve, drawings from Leonardo da Vinci, Peter Paul Rubens, and Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas, the autograph manuscript of Mozart's "Haffner" Symphony, original manuscripts by Charlotte Brontë and John Steinbeck, and several hundred letters from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

The Morgan Library Expansion and Renovation Project

Following several years of study and analysis, in 2000 the Morgan engaged the Renzo Piano Building Workshop to develop a comprehensive architectural program for the expansion and enhancement of its campus. Piano's elegant design preserves the three historic buildings—the 1906 McKim library, the 1928 Annex, and the nineteenth-century Morgan House—and creates three modestly scaled pavilions facing 36th Street, 37th Street, and Madison Avenue. The largest of these will form the center of the campus and provide a new, more accessible entrance on Madison Avenue. In addition to expanded exhibition galleries and other public spaces, a larger reading room and auditorium are planned. The Morgan expansion project will increase program space by about one third. The Morgan closed to the public in May 2003 and is scheduled to reopen in spring 2006.