Restoration of J. Pierpont Morgan Library’s Exterior
and the Morgan Garden
J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library and the Morgan Garden, view looking west toward the Annex.
Courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum, New York. © Brett Beyer, 2022.
New York, NY (June 9, 2022) –The Morgan Library & Museum unveils the recently restored exterior of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library and the new Morgan Garden to the public on Saturday, June 18, 2022. This six-year, $13 million project, the first comprehensive restoration of the landmark library’s exterior in its 115-year history, conserves one of the finest examples of Neoclassical architecture in the United States. It also enhances the surrounding grounds, improves the lighting of the building and enables public access to the 36th Street site for the first time in the institution’s history.
Visitors to the Morgan will be able to experience the exterior of the Library and enjoy the Garden through tours offered every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday at 12:30 pm and during Saturdays in the Garden, when visitors with museum admission will be invited to relax and enjoy New York City’s newest greenspace throughout the day.
To celebrate the completion of the restoration and the garden, the Morgan will host a Garden Family Fair and Free Community Weekend on Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19. Museum admission and all activities—including garden tours, family activities, story time, and live music—will be free. Reservations are encouraged.
The Garden will remain open seasonally through Sunday, October 9.
Director of the Morgan Library & Museum, Colin B. Bailey, notes, “The 1906 Library building is the heart of the modern Morgan and a link to its patron, as well as to the architects, builders, and artisans who created the historic structure. The recent restoration and the new Garden have enabled us to reexamine the original commission and conception in a variety of ways and to expand our offerings to the public.”
Commissioned in 1902 by financier John Pierpont Morgan as his private library, the building was completed in 1906 and is considered one of McKim, Mead & White’s finest works, perfectly embodying the Renaissance ideal of the unity of the arts through the integration of architecture, sculpture, and painting with exceptional craftsmanship and materials. The structure reflects its contents: majestic in design, yet intimate in scale.
In 2010 the Morgan restored the interior rooms of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library. In 2016 the Morgan began planning for the exterior restoration by engaging Integrated Conservation Resources (ICR), a firm specializing in the restoration of historic structures, to provide an initial needs assessment of the Library’s condition. Comprehensive restoration work began onsite in 2019 and addressed issues such as masonry, sculpture, and sidewalk deterioration; masonry joint failure; metalwork corrosion; roof conditions; waterproofing, and bird abatement.
Detail of the facade and loggia of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library. Courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum, New York.
© Brett Beyer, 2022.
Glenn Boornazian, President and Principal Conservator at Integrated Conservation Resources, states, “Our philosophy with this project was to use conservation methods that are physically and aesthetically compatible with the original materials. The Library was built so well. Over a hundred years later, it is in relatively good condition and our work was focused on making repairs that would blend in and endure. In history, there are these rare moments where the right people come together: the craftsmen, the patrons, and the architects. That took place here in this remarkable building.”
The Morgan Garden, evening view. Courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum, New York. © Brett Beyer, 2022.
The restoration of the building presented a unique opportunity to reimagine the natural setting around it and to provide visitor access to the site for the first time in the institution’s history. The previous landscaping—comprised of a simple lawn and trees—did little to complement the architecture of the Library, nor did it provide accessible pathways or spaces to encourage visitor interaction with the landmark building’s exterior. Increasing the visibility of the Library was also important. Since the Morgan’s main entrance had shifted from 36th Street to Madison Avenue as part of the 2006 Renzo Piano–designed expansion, visitors have been less aware of this remarkable part of the Morgan’s campus.
After an extensive search, the Morgan engaged Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Landscape Design to develop designs to address these issues. An accomplished landscape designer, historian, teacher, and author, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan has led notable projects in the United Kingdom, including for Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace Gardens, and the Royal College of Art. This is his first commission in the United States.
The new Garden features an accessible route from the interior campus to the exterior of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library and creates inviting spaces for tours and other programs. The low profile of the design respects and enhances the restrained façades of both the original Library and Renzo Piano’s addition. Paths of bluestone, set in patterns that derive from the Library’s floor and exterior paving, provide a fully accessible surface for garden visitors. Elegant pebble mosaics adds texture and visual variety to the ground plane.
Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Landscape Designer, notes, “For over a century, there has been a blank canvas sitting in front of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library. Our goal was to develop a new garden that was respectful of the historical context in which it is situated. The garden is designed to create a welcoming setting that allows visitors to experience the library up close and see details they may not have seen before. Making the landscape surrounding the building more worthy of the institution will be the greatest legacy of the garden.”
The Garden’s planting strategy includes an extension of existing groundcover, the introduction of beds of periwinkle flanking the approach to the Library’s loggia, and the addition of colorful, low-height herbaceous beds. The Garden also displays several antique ornaments from the Morgan’s holdings that up until now have been inaccessible to the public. These include a large Roman sarcophagus, a Roman funerary stele, and a pair of Renaissance corbels.
The original entrance to J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library, evening view. Courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum, New York.
© Brett Beyer, 2022.
The project also features new lighting by Linnaea Tillett of Tillett Lighting Design Associates that enhances the building’s presence at night and accentuates both the architecture and the new Garden. The new lighting design creates an enchanting, moonlit nocturnal environment, which sits in contrast to and mediates the ambient street lighting. J. Pierpont Morgan commissioned the Library as a private space and the new lighting emphasizes the domestic quality of the architecture through the relighting of the historic lantern that hangs in the Library’s loggia and gentle highlighting of the building’s details and sculptures and the Garden’s ornaments.
The entire restoration and garden development has been captured through an online video series, which illuminates the creative and technical process behind the project. In conjunction with the opening of the new Garden, the Morgan launched a new, digital guide on Bloomberg Connects, the free arts and cultural app created by Bloomberg Philanthropies. The Bloomberg Connects app, available for download from Google Play or the App Store, makes the Morgan accessible for onsite or offsite visits through photo, audio and video features and offers information about the history, architecture, collections, and exhibitions of the museum. The Morgan also took the opportunity to expand the narrative of its institutional history to recognize the many people who made the Morgan what it is today, including a renewed focus on the Morgan’s first director, Belle da Costa Greene. The Morgan joins over 75 international museums, galleries, sculpture parks, gardens, and cultural spaces on the Bloomberg Connects platform.
Exhibition: J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library:
Building the Bookman’s Paradise
Publication: J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library:
Building the Bookman’s Paradise
A publication chronicling the design and construction of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library, the restoration of its exterior, and the creation of a new garden surrounding it, will be published in fall 2022 by Scala Arts Publishers, Inc. The volume features an essay drawing on new sources that shed light on Morgan’s passion for collecting books and manuscripts which resulted in his commissioning a Library designed by Charles Follen McKim (by Colin B. Bailey and Daria Rose Foner); the first in-depth account of the team of artisans who built the building (by Christine Nelson); an exploration of the relationship between McKim and Morgan and the architectural context of the Library (by Barry Bergdoll); a sweeping account of the surrounding Murray Hill neighborhood (by Andrew Dolkart); and a detailed record of the Library’s restoration and Garden (by Brian Regan). J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library: Building the Bookman’s Paradise will appeal to those interested in book history and connoisseurship, architectural history, preservation, and urban history.
Living Land Acknowledgement
In its recent DEAI plan, the Morgan made a commitment to implementing a land acknowledgment that recognizes the original Indigenous inhabitants of the Morgan’s site and honors their historical and enduring relationship with the land as an important step in building an ongoing relationship with Indigenous Communities. The land acknowledgment was developed in consultation with the Lenape Center:
The Morgan Library & Museum stands on land that is part of Lenapehoking, the unceded ancestral homeland of the Lenape people. We acknowledge and pay respect to the original peoples of Lenapehoking, and we recognize the enduring significance of these lands and waterways for the Lenape Nations and the many Indigenous communities who live here today.
We also recognize the violent history of settler colonialism on the island of Manaháhtaan and beyond, and its ongoing impacts on Indigenous peoples and lands. We are committed to confronting this legacy in our work at the Morgan, and to honoring Indigenous voices.
Donors to the Restoration
The exterior restoration of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library and the Morgan Garden was made possible by lead support from the Charina Endowment Fund, Inc.; The City of New York through the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; Mrs. Oscar de la Renta; the Sherman
Fairchild Foundation, Inc.; Morgan Stanley; Katharine J. Rayner; and The Thompson Family Foundation.
Major support was provided by Agnes Gund; Mr. and Mrs. Clement C. Moore II; Mr. and Mrs. Gary W. Parr; Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence R. Ricciardi; Denise Littlefield Sobel; Mr. and Mrs. Robert King Steel; and Beatrice Stern.
Generous support was received from Bloomberg Philanthropies; Mr. and Mrs. Livio Borghese; T. Kimball Brooker; Karen B. Cohen; Gail A. Gilbert; the Drue and H.J. Heinz II Charitable Trust; Frederick J. Iseman; the Johansson Family Foundation; Martha and Garfield Miller; Patricia and Thruston Morton; Anonymous, in memory of Melvin R. Seiden; Mr. and Mrs. George L.K. Frelinghuysen; Diane A. Nixon; Thomas J. Reid and Christina M. Pae; and Jessie Schilling.
Additional support was provided by Barbara Dau; Mr. and Mrs. R. Bradford Evans; Richard Gilder and Lois Chiles; the A.G. Leventis Foundation; and Mr. and Mrs. Rudy L. Ruggles, Jr.; with assistance from Mr. and Mrs. Roger S. Berlind; Charles Butt; Edward Lee Cave; Peter L. Malkin; the Strackbein Family Charitable Fund; Mr. and Mrs. David M. Tobey; the Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation; Andrea Woodner; and an Anonymous donor.
J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library, view from 36th Street. Courtesy of the Morgan Library & Museum, New York.
© Brett Beyer, 2022.
Morgan Library & Museum
A museum and independent research library located in the heart of New York City,
the Morgan Library & Museum began as the personal library of financier, collector, and cultural
benefactor J. Pierpont Morgan.
The Morgan offers visitors close encounters with great works of human accomplishment in a setting treasured for its intimate scale and historic significance. Its collection of manuscripts, rare books, music, drawings, and works of art comprises a unique and dynamic record of civilization, as well as an incomparable repository of ideas and of the creative process from 4000 BC to the present.
The Morgan Library & Museum | 225 Madison Avenue | 212.685.0008 | themorgan.org
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