Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Morgan Library & Museum

The Morgan Library has long been on my list of New York tourist destinations, so I was glad to finally make it there yesterday. Renzo Piano has recently added a very contemporary atrium to join disparate buildings on the block into one structure. From a historic point of view, the most interesting things are Mr. Morgan's enormous study & library. The study, with it's dark red draperies, classical & Renaissance art, & oppressive atmosphere, looks like a set for Act II of Tosca. The library is another curious pastiche of Medieval & 19th century aesthetics.

The new acquisitions gallery reflects an eclectic approach to collecting. I saw a letter by Richardson in tiny but readable handwriting, an illustrated letter from Van Gogh to Gaugin, a disturbing drawing by Schiele, illuminated manuscripts & even a work by Andy Warhol.

They have a lot of music-related items, including a set of 4 tickets for the 1st Ring cycle at Bayreuth, color-coded for each opera. It must annoy the curators that while they have 1 ticket for each Ring opera, the 4 tickets are not all from the same cycle. I also saw samples of Bach's writing, Handel's writing (in English), as well as scores by Puccini, Leopold Mozart & Barber.

The collection also includes small religious sculptures & a set of Mesopotamian cylinder seals from over 2 millennia. These small, spool-like objects come in a variety colors & artistic styles, & they may have been my favorite objects in the museum, even though they were relegated to the lower level next to the restrooms. I also enjoyed an over-priced but quiet lunch in the atrium cafe.

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