Like other Gilded Age billionaires, John Pierpont Morgan spent a significant portion of his fortune collecting art and artifacts from around the world. While much of the artwork in his collection ended up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (where he served as president), Morgan was an avid collector of books and documents which he stored in his private midtown library. After his death, his son placed the impressive collection in the public trust by organizing the Pierpont Morgan Library. Exhibits tend towards the literary, though old master sketches, musical manuscripts, and early photographs are common subjects of small shows.

No price is too high for an object of unquestioned beauty and known authenticity.
- John Pierpont Morgan (attributed)

What You Will See

The original library, commissioned by Morgan at the turn of the century, is one of the great interior spaces of New York City and a worthy home for objects central to humanity's cultural heritage. The museum's campus has expanded over the years, complimenting the original Gilded Age rooms with airy, modern additions and expanded gallery space, all to highlight the vast collection of books, prints, drawings, photographs and historical documents. Indicative of the depth of Mr. Morgan's collection, the Library is home to three of the 49 known copies of the Gutenberg Bible (the British Library only has two).

Why You Should Go

Books, documents, and prints can be less interesting subjects for a casual visitor than art, but the historical significance of the Morgan's collection, together with careful curation makes the pieces accessible and engaging. With original work from names like Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Dickens, Bronte, Thoreau, Chopin, and Mozart, the library is one of the great repositories of Western Culture (with significant Near Eastern additions) and visitors can have a tour of the last few centuries of genius while contemplating the success and excess of capitalism that collected it.

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