In 1902, the American financier and collector J. Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) commissioned architect Charles Follen McKim (1847–1909) of the firm McKim, Mead & White to design a freestanding library next to his home on East 36th Street in New York. With rarely seen architectural drawings, period photographs, and significant rare books and manuscripts from Morgan’s collection, this exhibition traces the design, construction, and early life of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library. It honors the designers, tradesmen, artists, and builders who created the Library more than a century ago and celebrates the completion of the exterior restoration and enhancement of this landmark building, which now anchors the campus of the Morgan Library & Museum.
In 1908, an unnamed correspondent from the London Times visited the completed Library and published the first public account of its lavish interiors and the splendid rare volumes held within. “The Bookman’s Paradise exists,” the writer announced, “and I have seen it. . . . I have entered the most carefully, jealously guarded treasure-house in the world, and nothing in it has been hidden from me.” Today, the “bookman’s paradise” belongs to all of us.