Charles Follen McKim of the prominent architectural firm McKim, Mead & White designed this library for Pierpont Morgan to house the financier’s collection of rare books, manuscripts and artifacts. The suite, adjacent to Morgan’s Madison Ave. home in New York City, was completed in 1906.
The East Room is a three-story library which now serves specialized researchers from around the world. Only the curator is allowed access to the two hidden staircases that lead upstairs.
Behind this pivoting bookcase is a white marble stairway to the second floor balcony:
Ornate detail can be found everywhere you look, from the finely crafted bookcases to the beautiful bindings they contain:
The ceiling is painted with the signs of the zodiac, allegorical depictions of the arts and sciences and portraits of important cultural figures including Socrates and Michelangelo.
Mr. Morgan’s study is decorated in the Renaissance style with ornately carved wooden panels on the ceiling:
An oil portrait of the magnate hangs above the 15th century mantelpiece:
A detail in the opulent rotunda:
Blue and white stucco reliefs depict classical and mythological subjects:
The ceiling paintings represent the three major literary eras that are the focus of the collection — the ancient world, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance:
The library was restored in 2010 [see before-and-after photos here]. In the rotunda, new lighting was installed that simulates the natural light that originally came through the oculus so visitors can fully appreciate the ceiling details:
For more eye candy, you can take a Google virtual tour of the interior. The suite is part of the Morgan Library & Museum, whose varied collection focuses on master drawings, the written word and the history of the book.
Charles Follen McKim was a Beaux Arts architect and partner in the firm McKim, Mead & White, which designed many prominent US buildings including major libraries, arts institutions and churches.