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Midtown Musings: The Morgan Library & Museum

NYC is famous for its museums. Everyone knows the biggies—the Met, the MoMA, the Whitney—and we love spending hours ambling through their galleries, crowded with locals and visitors alike. One of our favorite museums, though, is a lesser known gem frequented mostly by in-the-know New Yorkers: The Morgan Library & Museum. The best part? It’s just a few blocks away from Refinery Hotel.

A day at The Morgan Library & Museum

The complex of Renaissance- and Palladian-style buildings is the brainchild of J. Pierpont Morgan, one of America’s “Captains of Industry” during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. On top of making millions in the banking, shipping, railroad and steel industries, he was also an avid art collector. So when his collection grew too big to fit in his 36th Street mansion, he commissioned renowned architect Charles McKim to build him a library next door.

You can tell it’s a grand building from the outside, but the sheer magnitude of how ornate the actual library is always comes as a surprise to us—no matter how many times we visit! Off of a massive, domed rotunda—with beautiful murals inspired by the works of Raphael, there are three main rooms to visit. They used to be Morgan’s private study, an office for the librarian (because no private library is complete without an actual librarian), and the library itself.

Each of the rooms is stunning. With every step, you feel like Belle when the Beast shows her his library (or maybe that’s just us?). Deep reds, rich woods, epic stained glass windows…and the books! Walls of bookcases lined with rare antique books. You can browse many of them, but the most prized books are kept behind locks, for good reason. The museum is home to dozens of gorgeously illustrated manuscripts dating as far back as 4th century, bibles—including three Gutenburg bibles—that go back to the 13th century, and some extremely important words sketched on a scrap of paper from Bob Dylan (“It ain’t me babe.”). The fact that you can’t see them without academic reason has never dampened our sense of wonder just standing in their presence.

After taking our time strolling through the library’s rooms, we love to have a bite at the museum’s lobby restaurant, the Morgan Café. It’s the perfect spot for an afternoon tea! We had rosé, too…
Be sure to visit the Morgan Library & Museum on your next stay in NYC!

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