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The Re-Opening of the McKim Building at The Morgan Library & Museum
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The Re-Opening of the McKim Building at The Morgan Library & Museum

- In the Galleries: Special Events


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The Re-Opening of the McKim Building
(McKim Restoration Web Page)
At
The Morgan Library & Museum
(The Morgan Website)
(The Morgan Shop)
225 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
212.685.0008

Press: Lillian Goldenthal, Ruder Finn A&CC

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 21, 2010


(Assisted by Morgan Library & Museum Press Notes).

I was thrilled to attend The Morgan Library & Museum’s re-opening of the McKim building and to be part of a press preview of the extraordinary restoration of its expansive rotunda, study, library, bookshelves, wall coverings, chandeliers, and glass cases for original manuscripts, art works, seals, rare objects, and massive book collections. The architectural firm, McKim, Mead, and White, had designed the original spaces for Pierpont Morgan, the renowned financier, in 1903, to be used as private studies and a library. The exterior of this building (which was expanded in 1928), which adorns lower Madison Avenue, is sheer white marble, with very few windows. The current interior restoration cost $4.5 million, but only began this June 2010. In 2006, Renzo Piano, the go-to architect of late (designed the New York Times building), expanded and renovated much of the Morgan with tall glass walls, among other fine additions. During this McKim building restoration project, the Morgan remained open and operating.

The press arrived in such numbers today, that we were divided into tour groups, with various Morgan executives leading each group. My group was led by the very impassioned William M. Griswold, Director of the Morgan. Other staff on hand included Jennifer Tonkovich, Curator of Drawings & Prints, and additional Curators. Today marked the beginning of a week of special events, for patrons, members, the NY arts community, and the Morgan enthusiasts. This restoration is not only a celebration of the original architectural genius of Charles Follen McKim, but a recognition of the aesthetic savvy, driven passions, and classical intelligence of John Pierpont Morgan, giant among American financiers, who was instrumental in forming the General Electric Company and US Steel Corporation, no small feat. Among the highlights of the McKim restoration are brand new lighting to enhance murals, wall coverings, and fireplaces, the public debut of the North Room, new exhibition cases, to allow the public to view larger portions of the collections, restored light fixtures and furniture, new wall coverings to replicate originals, scrubbed walls, and polished flooring.

Four spaces occupied our tour, plus one serendipitous addition at the end. The Library (East Room) has a new late 19th century Persian rug (similar to an original) and a new lighting system, that brightens the ceiling murals, painted by Henry Siddons Mowbray, featuring signs of the zodiac and the likes of Socrates and Galileo. Non-reflective Plexiglas now helps visitors read the titles of the Morgan’s rare books. The pendant chandelier is rehung and restored, and now over 100 works will rotate in the East Room displays, such as Manuscripts of Balzac, Mozart, Calder, and Robert Schumann. An early edition of The Canterbury Tales and Lewis Carroll’s first edition of Through the Looking Glass are also on view in this gorgeous room.

The Study (West Room) is filled with furnishings evocative of the Renaissance, such as a Florentine wooden ceiling, silk damask wall coverings in bright red, inspired by a Roman Palace, and stained glass window ornamentations. In the early 1900’s, Pierpont Morgan used his study for business and correspondence. Now the study proudly showcases works the public has never seen, such as the 1530 Verrazano globe, a bronze St. John the Baptist, and paintings by Tintoretto and Perugino. Morgan’s personal vault is also now visible, with leather boxes filled with rare books and manuscripts.

The North Room, originally used as an office by Morgan’s first director, Bella da Costa Greene, now features medieval artifacts and Roman, Near Eastern, and Greek objects. Bookshelves have been transformed into display cabinets for Ancient Near Eastern cylinder seals from 3500 BC. The pictures engraved on the seals are tiny and precise. Clay tablets, a stone tablet, Roman silver cups, jeweled objects, a jeweled book binding, and restored chandeliers magnify the grandeur of this elegant, esoteric room. Entering the Rotunda, the fourth restored space, is like entering a Florentine Chapel. Mowbray painted the monumental ceiling, depicting literary greats, like Dante and Homer, while adding classically evocative ornamentations. The Rotunda’s marble and mosaic panels are newly restored, and the lighting is now designed to mimic natural sunlight. New display cases house letters of Jefferson and Lincoln, a life mask of Washington, the Declaration of Independence, and the first Bible to be printed in America.

Students from Mannes College The New School for Music softly serenaded the Press. The serendipitous addition to the end of Mr. Griswold’s tour was a rare glimpse of one of (yes, one of) Pierpont Morgan’s secret staircases. I had personally seen one of these years ago, and, on my request, Mr. Griswold pushed a secret button or latch, and a wall of bookshelves opened onto a full wooden staircase behind the Library walls. One can only imagine the purpose or intent of the staircases’ creation. The team behind this monumental restoration at the Morgan deserves kudos and awe. Exhibition design is by Stephen Saitas Designs, lighting design is by Renfro Design Group, Inc., and the architect of record is Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP. Kudos to Charles Follen McKim, kudos to the entire restoration team within and outside the Morgan, and kudos to John Pierpont Morgan.



The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
William M. Griswold, Morgan Director,
Greets the Press
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Opening Remarks.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
East Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Rare Manuscript.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
East Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
East Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
East Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Rare Mozart Manuscript.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
East Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
East Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Rare Gutenberg Bible.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
East Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Treasures of The Morgan.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Treasures of The Morgan.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
North Room Views.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Treasures of The Morgan.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Treasures of The Morgan.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
West Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
West Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Treasures of The Morgan.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
West Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
West Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
JP Morgan's Desk.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Treasures of The Morgan.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
West Room View.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Declaration of Independence.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Rotunda Mural.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
George Washington Plaster Cast.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
JP Morgan's Secret Staircase.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
William M. Griswold, Morgan Director.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
William M. Griswold, Morgan Director.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Mannes College The New School for Music
Students Entertain
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower


The Morgan Library & Museum
Re-Opening of the Landmark McKim Building.
Renzo Piano Architecture.
Photo Courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower



For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net