Trip Report: Morgan Library and Museum

I had a short time to visit Morgan Library and Museum. I went there in an evening, and there is only half an hour left to me to walk around.

Morgan museum locates in a peaceful neighborhood at 225 Madison Avenue at Murray Hill in Manhattan.  The whole building is a combination of different styles and periods and actually covering half a city block. Around 1906, Charles Follen Mckim first designed it as a palazzo-like structure. 100 years later, architect Renzo Piano expand and renovate this building, which turn to how it looks like now.


It’s a huge contrast of the building and its interior space, especially the Mr.Morgan’s library. It keeps the design for Mr. Morgan’s private library time, the whole atmosphere is more like a historical site. The dome and wallpaper are amazingly beautiful and exquisite, but I don’t feel it is a library. All the books are blocked in that classical shelf, so I feel it is not accessible. I asked the staff if these books can be lend to visitors, they said that it is available for visitors to read in the third floor, but not take it out.


Morgan contains a large collection of incunabula and it is one of the world’s greatest collection of ancient Near Eastern Cylinder seals. Go through its website, “The mission of The Morgan Library & Museum is to preserve, build, study, present, and interpret a collection of extraordinary quality, in order to stimulate enjoyment, excite the imagination, advance learning, and nurture creativity.”  As a library, it provides this experience to allow the visitor to touch this unique collection. 


The interface of this building is also quite similar with MOMA. I had this mixing feeling that I can’t define Morgan is a library, museum or a historical site, or a place to sit down and read. I think space automatically carry a lot of meaning and functions. There are also a couple of plant inside space, which add more layers to space, bring a natural element to the human-designed institution. 


Morgan’s exhibition concentrate on books, there is Matisse and the Book Arts exhibition on view. It’s nice to have a museum that concentrate on books, there is Matisse and the Book Arts exhibition on view. It’s nice to have a museum that focus on book on book art and hold these rare books collect to actually nourish their collection. I hope it will be more connection between their library collection and their exhibition. In addition, their space is going to keep expanding depends on the development of their collection. Therefore, I feel Morgan is a good site to become a complex: space, library, book art museum, or a place to immerse in this context.

I read the Morgan Museum’s mission statement. It’s sort of their manifesto. It’s nice and clear. 

Institutional Values

  • Quality and the Distinctive Character of its Collection
  • Scholarship and Learning
  • Access and Transparency
  • Imagination and Creativity
  • Stewardship and Accountability
  • Leadership and Collaboration