On a recent rainy evening in New York City, a group of Untapped New York Insiders sought shelter within the book-lined walls of The Morgan Library and Museum. The Morgan recently completed a multi-year exterior restoration, the first in over 100 years, and opened a new garden space that we were invited to explore. The museum was closed for this after-hours excursion, so we had the whole place to ourselves! Check out photos and highlights of what we saw in the images below, all taken by Untapped New York Insiders.
The Morgan Library is a grand classical structure designed by Charles McKim of the illustrious New York City architecture firm McKim, Mead, and White. Made of Tennessee pink marble, the 1906 building was constructed to house financier J.P. Morgan’s extensive collection of rare books, manuscripts, and art. The maquette you see in this image, along with the wonderful docent who led our tour, was created by the architect in 1904 and differs only slightly from the finished structure.
After admiring the marble-clad entrance hall, Insiders got to get up close to the many paintings and artifacts on display in J.P. Morgan’s personal study. The striking room is where Morgan met with art dealers, scholars, business colleagues, and friends.
Hanging above a bookshelf, you’ll find a portrait of Morgan’s son, J.P. Morgan Jr., the man who made his father’s collection open to the public. A portrait of Pierpont Morgan by Frank Holl hangs above the fireplace on an adjoining wall.
Morgan kept some of his most valuable and precious items close. Hidden in the study is a steel-lined vault sealed with a heavy door and combination lock.
The main attraction at The Morgan is the library. Here, bookcases cover the walls from the floor to the soaring thirty-foot ceiling. Made of inlaid Circassian walnut and bronze, the cases hold priceless books and manuscripts that Morgan collected throughout his life. The library is also full of hidden secrets. Hidden behind bookcases at the corners of the room, there are two secret staircases that lead to the balconies above.
Above the fireplace, there is a massive tapestry called The Triumph of Avarice. It was designed by Pieter Coecke van Aelst and woven in the workshop of Willem de Pannemaker in Brussels. Dated to 1545, the tapestry is one of a series that depicts the Seven Deadly Sins and it once belonged to Henry VIII.
On the tour, Insiders learned about all of the hidden symbols within the art on the library’s ceiling. The paintings depict famous artists and their muses, as well as the signs of the zodiac. The placement of the zodiac signs was personal to Morgan. Above the door, he placed Aries and Gemini, signs that correspond with Morgan’s birthday (April 17, 1837) and the date of his marriage to his second wife Frances Louisa Tracy (May 31, 1865).
One of the many fascinating objects Insiders got to see on this tour was a Gutenberg bible. The Morgan has three of only 50 copies known to exist! Check out more photos from our tour in the gallery below and join us on our next adventure by becoming a member today! Use code JOINUS for your first month free.