The Morgan Library & Museum: A Trip through the City’s History and Imagination

When the show Maurice Sendak: Drawing the Curtain opened at The Morgan Library & Museum in June, The New Yorker wrote of Sendak’s work as a set designer and his creative relationship with this unique New York institution: “He (Sendak) often turned to the archives of the Morgan Library for inspiration and later returned the favor, bequeathing nine hundred of his preparatory works to the museum.” The show is not only a testament to Sendak’s talent but to the vital role the museum has played in the creative life of the city since it was given to the public in 1924.

The Morgan was born out of Pierpont Morgan’s incomparable collection of artworks, books, and artifacts, a collection amassed with the greatest care and respect for history and the arts. It’s a reflection of a particular mind, and it’s a work of art in and of itself. A veritable time capsule into the past, and into the depths of the greatest human imaginations, this museum, which both inspires and is a showcase for masterworks, is just a short walk from the new luxury condos at 88 & 90 Lex.

The works in Drawing the Curtain are taken mostly from the 900 pieces that Sendak left to the museum, but it also features works from the collection by greats like William Blake, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Domenico and Giambattista Tiepolo, grounding Sendak’s creations in an art-historical continuum that reveals how much the world of his books and sets is in constant conversation with the past. It’s an apt exhibit for a museum whose physical, architectural presence in the city is a campus that includes Morgan’s original library, designed by the renowned Charles McKim to look like a building of the Italian Renaissance, along with a set of glass pavilions designed by Renzo Piano that expanded exhibition, dining, and performance spaces in 2006.

Another exhibit not to be missed is Walt Whitman: Bard of Democracy, a show that brings the viewer intimately close with the poems, notebooks, and letters of another New York luminary. It includes correspondence with Ralph Waldo Emerson and original writings by Oscar Wilde, Hart Crane, Federico García Lorca, and Allen Ginsberg that attest to Whitman’s lasting influence on letters and the world. Another museum highlight that links the past and the world to come is Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing 552D, a piece donated to the museum by the artist’s family; its geometric, architectural form is like an abstraction of Pierpont Morgan’s original library—a time capsule that carries our history into the present.

And living so close to the Morgan in the NoMad residences at 88 & 90 Lex means the museum campus can be everything from a local lunch spot and a place to shop to an exhibition space, a performance space, or, as was the case for Maurice Sendak, a research facility for your personal and professional interests.

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