Tue-Thu, 10:30am-5pm; Fri, 10:30am-9pm; Sat, 10am-6pm; Sun, 11am-6pm; Mon, closed
6 at 33rd St.
$18; $12 seniors, students with valid ID, and children 13–16, children under 12 free
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
| Thru 5/30 |
|Sight Reading: Photography and the Legible World|
The Morgan Library has always been a jumbled treasure chest of a museum. Founded upon the vast and varied collections of Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), it seemed to lie scattered about here and there in the three fine old buildings on lower Madison Avenue. Neither the buildings nor the collections had the coherence of the city's perfect mansion-museum, the Frick Collection. And that was always part of the Morgan’s disheveled charm. The Morgan was the un-Frick. It seemed chopped up, idiosyncratic, higgledy-piggledy. It was run, you assumed and hoped, by aristocratic librarians in frayed coats whose eyes would begin to gleam in the presence of a medieval reliquary of a certain standard. It was part period piece, part gallery, part harpsichord concert on a Sunday afternoon. All that's gone. The Italian architect Renzo Piano has rationalized the institution, creating a handsome and more conventional museum. Losing the jumble is cause for some regret; the eccentric is prized in our abstract, numbers-organized society. But the gain in this case is well worth the loss. The Morgan Library & Museum is today an orderly treasure chest, one in which it is easy to see and study the institution’s magnificent collections and also, unexpectedly, to relish the surrounding cityscape. From the outside, Piano's design is undistinguished; the exterior rosy-white grid through which visitors will enter looks dull and vacant when compared with the richly nuanced brown and gray stones of the earlier buildings on either side. But his glassy interior, at once intimate and expansive, is marvelously scaled—just right for examining small things of great value. An ideal setting for the Morgan's jewels.