Redesigned by Renzo Piano in 2006, the Morgan Library and Museum is an expert integration of gilded age pomp into modern circumstance. Commissioned by über-financier Pierpont Morgan in 1906 to house his ever-expanding collection of object d’art, manuscripts, and books, the original library has the look of the Frick or Campbell’s Apartment at nearby Grand Central Station.
Swathed in heavy burn-out velvets and medieval tapestry, the four rooms (entrance hall, library, lounge, and librarian’s office) display a choice selection of some of the world’s rarest printed treasures, including a complete copy of the Gutenberg Bible (the first printed book) and the original manuscript of Milton’s Paradise Lost. More than just a bibliophile’s paradise, the Morgan boasts an astonishing collecting of medieval art; don’t miss the Stavelot Triptych and the bejeweled Landau gospels in the towering glass Piano arcade.
Four galleries in the first addition of the library host temporary exhibitions covering various themes—from Jean de Brunhoff’s whimsical illustrations of the lovably elephant Babar to a mixed media celebration of the composer Liszt and his Parisian crew of virtuosos. Lectures, music performances and guided tours of the permanent and temporary exhibitions are regularly offered. Check their newly spruced website for details.