It is easy to miss the Morgan Library and Museum. Though it is one of the smaller museums in New York, the Morgan truly is a hidden gem. This gallery, that doubles as an artifact library, is centrally located on Madison Avenue and 36th Street. Originally, the building was constructed to serve as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan. After he died, his son, J.P. Morgan Jr., unlocked this private collection of writings, drawings, and music and opened it to the public. In 2006, however, the space expanded by some 75,000 square feet to accommodate a reading room, storage areas, and a huge gift shop.
Despite these renovations, the library has never lost its atmosphere of a stately manor. When one visits, it almost feels like a trip back in time, a personalized invitation to J.P. Morgan’s private property. While there, visitors can also take in a concert or lecture to bring out their inner scholar.
The museum has played host to some of the most intellectually stimulating exhibitions in the city. One of the exhibitions, a tribute to Alice in Wonderland, featured the original manuscript with accompanying drawings and letters. On the other hand, a newer exhibition dives into Henry David Thoreau’s personal journals and invites the public to explore them.
Though the Morgan does retain the library title, its literary selections are not for public use. However, there is a separate room in the library that holds enormous bookshelves that soar up to the ceilings. Classics and other works of literature that belonged to J.P. Morgan Sr. line the bookshelves. The Morgan’s beginnings and history demonstrate that arts, literature, and the humanities attract everyone, even those who are crucially invested in the world of business. The Morgan is no different; it attracts an array of crowds each year that seek intellectual stimulation and growth of the spirit.