With all the intricacy that we see in the Morgan Library’s architecture and interior designs, we can only conclude that we’ve only seen half of what makes this location such an invaluable edifice. Can you imagine that the actual collection held in all the locations mentioned above actually value more than the building itself?
“Pierpont Morgan's immense holdings ranged from Egyptian art to Renaissance paintings to Chinese porcelains. For his library, Morgan acquired illuminated, literary, and historical manuscripts, early printed books, and old master drawings and prints. To this core collection, he added the earliest evidence of writing as manifested in ancient seals, tablets, and papyrus fragments from Egypt and the Near East. Morgan also collected manuscripts and printed materials significant to American history.”
-The Morgan Library & Museum
I couldn’t have possibly described the collection any better than what had already been written on the library’s collection page, though, I can mention a few of its highlights.
In writing, La Biblia Latina (above). Purchased in 1896, and printed by Johannes Gutenberg and Johann Fust in 1455; an autographed manuscript journal entry of Henry David Thoreau, the father of civil disobedience, that later made it into Walden. Dated July 5, 1845. In sheet music, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s autographed Symphony in D Minor from “Haffner” Symphony, 1782-83. In painting, Saul Slaying Nahash and the Ammonites and Samuel Anoints Saul and Sacrifices to the Lord from the Old Testament. Purchased on 1916, and made in Paris, France, ca. 1240; Peter Paul Rubens’ Seated Nude Youth. In impression, A Winged Hero Contesting with a Lion for a Bull, from Mesopotamia during the Neo-Babylonian period (ca. 1000-539B.C). Original print books by Francis Barlow, Aristotle, William Blake, Galileo Galilei, Ernest Hemingway, William Shakespeare, Phillis Wheatley; manuscripts by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Albert Einstein, Galileo Galilei, Thomas Jefferson, James Joyce, Abraham Lincoln, Edgar Allen Poe; drawings by Thomas Shotter Boys, Vittore Carpaccio, John Constable, Edgar Degas; music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Frederic Chopin, Franz Liszt, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; even a plethora of artifacts from Mesopotamia (late Iraq) dating back to 3500 B.C.. There are even anonymous works through various mediums being displayed. As of 2006, the Morgan Library & Museum housed more than 350,000 pieces of mixed media, collected, and all had so much value in significance that you can consider them invaluable. But they had to be acquired somehow. Can you imagine? In retrospect, when Pierpont Morgan passed on March 31, 1913, the estate left behind was appraised at close to 60 million dollars of that time. According to Hofstra, that's the equivalent of 1.2 trillion in the value of the dollar of today. Since his passing, the collection has more than doubled. But I digress, I'll allow you to experience the wealth of knowledge located in Morgan yourself.
A very nifty attribute about the museum is that it offers some of it’s collection exhibited online. From artifacts acquired in the last 100 years and up, to treasures from the vault, which shows us the first book printed in English and letters by Albert Einstein and Jane Austen plus other works, to The Saint John’s Bible, to manuscripts from Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. Some of the exhibitions are seasonal, so be sure to check out the website for their time frame. But, it is “cool” to be able to experience the Museum without having to literally be in it. Hopefully, the length of this two part article inspires the appreciation for the Morgan. So go ahead and make the visit, but before you do, pardon my leave. There are other structures in New York City I have yet to drool about so see ya!
(All images courtesy of The Morgan Library & Museum, www.themorgan.org)