After basking in the glow of its successful $106 million modern expansion by Renzo Piano, completed four years ago, the Morgan Library will now turn its attention to renovating its 1906 building, a Renaissance-style structure designed by Charles McKim to house J.P. Morgan’s personal office and library. The $4.5 million project will be led by New York architects Beyer Blinder Belle with Stephen Saitas as exhibition designer and Richard Renfro as the lighting designer.
The project aims to provide more exhibition space for Morgan’s permanent collection, particularly rare books and centuries-old drawings that are sensitive to light and cannot be displayed in the light-filled Piano addition. Whilst the exterior of the building was cleaned during the expansion, its marble and mosaic rotunda and multi-storied library have remained untouched for decades and are in need of restoration. It will be a ‘noninvasive restoration’ said William Griswold, the library’s new director.
When completed, visitors will be able to see parts of the Morgan collection that have rarely been on public view, such as more books and bindings, holdings in ancient and early collections and Morgan’s impressive collection of Americana, including early copies of the Declaration of Independence and the “Star-Spangled Banner”. The building’s North Room, once the office of the Morgan’s first director, will be open to the public for the first time as a gallery devoted to work from the ancient Near East, Egypt, Rome and Greece.
The Morgan Library will remain open during the restoration but the McKim building will be closed from June 1 to October 30.