The Morgan Library

Tucked into the quiet corner of 36th & Madison is a beautiful stonework building & a relatively nondescript brownstone with a big secret. Inside is the soaring, opulent, private library of financier of J.P. Morgan. The Morgan Library & Museum is filled with his historic collection of books & manuscripts – the building is simply magnificent.

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panorama of the main library
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

I stopped by on a chilly Sunday morning to browse the collection for a bit & to check out a special exhibit on Ernest Hemingway. Visitors can see three public rooms: the library itself, Morgan’s private study & the librarian’s office. Outside these rooms is an ornate rotunda, capped with a domed ceiling that looks straight out of Renaissance Italy. In addition to the main library, visitors can see his private study, which includes a vault filled with Morgan’s especially rare volumes & manuscripts.

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rotunda in the atrium
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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J.P. Morgan’s private study is covered in lush red wallpaper
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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the study’s giant vault contains rare books & manuscripts
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

Morgan Library

every corner of the library is stacked high in books
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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new life goal: to have a library with a balcony!
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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the giant tapestry hanging over the fireplace, The Triumph of Avarice, from the mid 1540s
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

In contrast to the ornate, intricate details of the library itself is the airy, light filled glass cube that serves as the entrance to the library & museum. Like many similar projects, it was built not without controversy, but I felt that the bright space was very welcoming.

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lions guard the front of the library’s main building, next to a stunning glass cube
(left) photo provided by Flickr creative commons license; (right) (C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

I strolled around for about an hour, my mouth agape most of the time in the utter beauty I was surrounded by. I think I whispered to myself “Oh wow” about a hundred times & for some time, just sat on a bench & enjoyed looking around. A ticket is not cheap – $18 for an adult, including admission into special exhibits – but oh so worth it (check the website for free admission hours, which occur on Friday evenings as well as Sunday afternoons).

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30′ walls covered in books
(C) Christina Saull – All Rights Reserved

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About christina

Christina is a 30-something D.I.N.K. travel writer & photographer who travels the world often wedged into the middle seat. Follow her on Twitter & Facebook.

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6 Responses to The Morgan Library

  1. Ahmed Gusto February 14, 2016 at 5:46 am #

    Your pictures are a proof that it’s a “WOW” place to be in and should not be missed. Thank you for sharing with us

  2. Suzanne (PhilaTravelGirl) February 14, 2016 at 9:57 pm #

    The library is just gorgeous and I can practically smell the books through the photos – my kind of place – art, architecture, design, library, history. I love learning about hidden NYC places of history and am adding this to my list for the next visit to NYC – just when I thought I’ve done it all there’s always a new hidden spot to add

  3. trip advisor February 26, 2016 at 6:59 am #

    Awesome library!! Visiting there would be a great experience.

  4. MaryAnn May 25, 2016 at 12:23 am #

    This is a wonderful building! The architecture was just jaw dropping, the furnishings were amazing and the history was fascinating. I never would have gone except for your recommendation. We stopped to see it and then went into the Village for lunch. What a great day in New York City.

    • christina May 25, 2016 at 7:23 am #

      I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit! Isn’t it a great hidden gem?

  5. K.Miller July 2, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    what i wouldn’t give to actually read some of those books and relax in that library while reading them :)

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