FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2006
MAYOR BLOOMBERG, CULTURAL AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER LEVIN, MORGAN LIBRARY & MUSEUM DIRECTOR CHARLES E. PIERCE, JR., CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES S. PARKER GILBERT & ARCHITECT RENZO PIANO UNVEIL NEWLY EXPANDED MORGAN LIBRARY AND MUSEUM
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Director of the Morgan Library and Museum Charles E. Pierce, Jr. and Chairman of the Board of Trustees S. Parker Gilbert today unveiled the newly expanded and renovated Morgan Library and Museum. Designed by Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, the $106-million building project - the largest expansion in the Library’s history - integrates the Morgan’s three historical buildings with three new steel-and-glass pavilions adding 75,000 square feet to the campus of the Morgan Library and Museum. The project also includes a dramatic new entrance on Madison Avenue, a soaring central court that serves as a gathering place for visitors, a 280-seat performance hall, a new café and restaurant, a shop, a new reading room, and collections storage. The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York City Council invested $5 million for the excavation and foundation work on the project. The Library has been closed to the public for nearly three years as it underwent construction.
“Renzo Piano’s great design not only preserves the old buildings, but transforms the entire complex into a more welcoming and accessible public space,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The Morgan Library and Museum is an extraordinary New York institution with one of the world’s more diverse collection of artistic, literary, musical, and historical works. It is the kind of institution that helps drive the success of New York, and this new spectacular public space is great investment in the City’s future.”
“This is a project with the perfect pitch,” said Commissioner Levin. “Piano’s design is beautifully attuned to both the extant architecture and to the organization’s desire to expand its mission as a center for scholarship and create a formidable public space that all New Yorkers can enjoy.”
“I am delighted to present the newly expanded Morgan Library & Museum to the public,” said Director Charles E. Pierce, Jr. “As one of New York’s cultural crown jewels, we are immensely excited to share our beautiful new surroundings. Renzo Piano has given the city a revitalized landmark, at once respecting the architectural traditions of the Morgan and providing dynamic additions to our Madison Avenue campus.”
“The Morgan experience will now be greatly enhanced and more public,” said Renzo Piano. “We chose steel and extra-wide glass, which is almost like crystal. These are honest materials that create the right sense of strength and clarity between old and new, as well as a sense of transparency in the center of the institution that opens the campus up to the street.”
The expansion adds 75,000 square feet to the campus, doubling the exhibition space for the center’s world-renowned collections. Renzo Piano’s design integrates three historical buildings, including the original 1906 Morgan library, designed by Charles McKim; the 1928 Annex building, designed by Benjamin Wistar Morris; and the mid-nineteenth-century Morgan house, with three intimately scaled pavilions constructed of faceted steel panels and glass to create an accessible and inviting setting.
With more than 50% of the square footage located below ground, the new buildings are modestly sized and respectful of the Morgan’s traditional architecture and the surrounding neighborhood. The glass-enclosed central court connects the buildings and seamlessly joins the old and new, providing many views both in and out of the 151,000-square-foot campus.
The Morgan Library & Museum houses one of the world’s greatest collections of artistic, literary, musical, and historical works. Included in its holdings are original scores by Mozart and Beethoven, drawings by Rembrandt and Rubens, medieval and Renaissance works, three Gutenberg Bibles, literary manuscripts by Dickens and Twain, and three thousand year-old Near Eastern carvings.
The Morgan Library & Museum was founded as a private library by financier John Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913), one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the U.S. Its Italian Renaissance-style building complex was constructed between 1902 and 1906, adjacent to Mr. Morgan’s New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street. In 1924, eleven years after Pierpont Morgan’s death, his son, J. P. Morgan, Jr. (1867–1943), realized that the library had become too important to remain in private hands. In what constituted one of the most momentous cultural gifts in U.S. history, J. P. Morgan, Jr. fulfilled his father’s dream of making the library and its treasures available to scholars and the public alike by transforming it into a public institution.
Stu Loeser / Silvia Alvarez (212) 788-2958
Sara Rutkowski (Cultural Affairs)