Monday, September 16, 2019

Hidden Gem # 4 - The Morgan

Its original name was the Morgan Library, and it began with JP Morgan’s own collection. While his business ethics were questioned even in his lifetime, his eye for collecting was impeccable, and one of his interests was rare books, manuscripts, and original letters. The Morgan, created by his  will, has kept up that tradition. Though it has other interests, it is known for exhibits built around manuscripts, letters, sketches of and by famous people, many of them writers or artists. They are packed with treasures and information, meticulously curated.   In the last few years, you could have seen, among others, exhibits about JRR Tolkien’s life and art,
Tennessee Williams,
Emily Dickinson,  JD Salinger. And one whimsically called Noah’s Animals.

When I was there last week, I could have seen Sendak’s theater work, with tiny dioramas he built;   Verdi’s letters  about composing his late masterpieces, Othello and Falstaff; Hogarth, on cruelty and humor, and Walt Whitman.


Whitman was my goal.  He proudly called himself a "Brooklyn boy" and said that the poems "arose out of my life in Brooklyn."

He is Brooklyn’s homegrown genius; a lost portrait  of him is the “McGuffin” that begins my next mystery, Brooklyn Legacies, out in December, and by lucky coincidence, this is his 200th birthday. I saw paintings and etchings of Brooklyn as it was when he knew it,  letters by and photos of Whitman, and copies of various editions of his books. Including Leaves of Grass, which was printed in Brooklyn, was partly typeset by Whitman himself and is a part of my book in a small way.

Excellent explanations gave meaning and context to the objects.

Would I say The Morgan  is a perfect  museum for book lovers?  Yes. Yes I would, and often do.

All right, it is not exactly unknown, but it is away from the usual tourist haunts.  Modest in size,  it is too easy to overlook in this city of great big museums.  In fact it is the perfect size for a half-day of museum going. A recent renovation  added a sunny atrium with a charming cafĂ© for a light lunch or break.
If you plan ahead you can even have lunch in JP’s own dining room. One of these days, I will manage it.

The  shop offers fascinating books about New York, architecture and the current exhibits, and  surprising gifts.  

 My 2 ½ year old grandson now has Where the Wild Things Are socks.

I may have to go back and see if I can find some in my size too.