Next door to our mid-town hotel on Madison is the recently re-opened and refurbished Pierpont Morgan Library. If you have to see one library or museum in NY, this would be our pick.
The building is a beautiful blend of old and new, incorporating Morgan’s original library and study with a new glass and steel atrium which brings the old and new galleries in the museum under the one roof.
For US$12, it’s a goosebump ride into the past: at least, that was what we experienced. The thrill of seeing Morgan’s library with so many valuable books; his study holding so many treasures, and the galleries filled with unbelievable artworks, left us weak at the knees and short of breath.
The pen, pastel and ink drawings were incredible. Famous painters’ pieces lined the walls: Da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Matisse, Rembrandt, Picasso, Gauguin, Cézanne, Constable, Blake, and Pollock to name a few.
The next gallery was full of handmade books including a few Persian examples. Exquisite jewelled, metal and leather covers enveloped fragile vellum with script in languages from all over the world.
Just as we thought that we had seen everything, the next gallery blew us away! In glass cabinets, sat original manuscripts and letters from the who’s who of the literary and musical worlds. Composers included Beethoven, Verdi, Richard Strauss, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, Mahler, Schubert, Wagner, Schumann and more recent George Crumb, John Cage and Henri Duparc. Also on display is a piece of paper recording Galileo’s observations of the moons of Jupiter in Jan/Feb 1611. Authors and writers included Beatrix Potter, the Brontës, Charles Dickens, Thoreau, Jean de Brunhoff, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Pope, Edgar Allen Poe, John Milton, Jane Austen, Robert Burns and Jonathan Swift. The lyrics to It ain’t me, Babe were scribbled by Bob Dylan onto hotel stationery from the Mayfair Hotel in London. It was mind-boggling!
Unfortunately, no photographs were allowed to be taken in the galleries, but M amused herself in the atrium!
Go see this museum if you’re ever in NY – it’s at 255 Madison between 36th and 37th Streets.