My Mom visited from Chicago a couple weeks ago and we went to check out the Hemingway exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum in Manhattan. I was excited to finally visit the Morgan Library. I first learned about Pierpont Morgan’s collection and his library in the Newberry Library’s seminar on the History of Library Architecture that I attended a few years ago.
Mom at the Morgan
Mom is originally from Germany and first read Hemingway in German as a young woman. I’ve been a fan of Hemingway’s writing since she recommended I read A Farwell to Arms when I was in my early twenties. Mom’s recommendation and my subsequent reading healed a wound from a high school English class reading of The Old Man and The Sea. I would like to note that while we both admire Hemingway’s writing, the more we’ve learned about his behavior and character the less we appreciate the man. And while I loved my high school English teacher, I question his choice of The Old Man and the Sea when there are so many other Hemingway stories that are more accessible for teens. Sadly, my teacher passed away before we could have that conversation.
The exhibit focuses on Hemingway between WWI and WWII. It’s a fascinating exhibit for those interested in Hemingway’s writing–his life experience, subject matter, and process. The exhibit is at The Morgan through January 31, 2016, and after that, it is heading to Boston. Hard-core Hemingway fans should definitely also make a pilgrimage to his birthplace and museum in Oak Park, IL.
The court of the Morgan Library and Museum building is a modern addition–beautiful wood floors with lots of glass, metal, and stone. The stairs leading to that small door is the entrance to Morgan’s study and library.
It’s rather a shock to walk through the cold and bright modern design of the court where everything is hard and echoes into this warm, soft study where everything is muffled.
I can imagine how cozy this room must have felt with a raging fire in the fireplace on a cold winter’s day.
The rotunda between Morgan’s study and library.
George Washington’s face, plaster cast, made in 1785 by the French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. On display in the rotunda. Washington was alive when this cast was made, it is not a death mask.
The library. Simply breathtaking.
These pictures do not do justice to the beauty and calm of this room.
Bookcase, brass door detail. Morgan collected a lot of Goethe.
My eye kept being drawn to this well-lit statue of St. Elizabeth of Schonau (1129-1165), a German nun who published three volumes describing her divine visions. Lindenwood with polychromed and gilt decoration. Early 16th century.
In a room where there are so many treasures, this one made me say “wow” out loud. The manuscript of Beethoven’s tenth and last violin and piano sonata (op. 96 in G Major, 1815) completely captured my imagination. Morgan purchased it in 1907.
Mom in what was once the librarian’s office–a smaller room off the rotunda, between Morgan’s study and library. It now features artifacts from the ancient world.
Click here to read a room by room summary of Morgan’s library and see some before and after pictures of a major restoration completed in 2010.