Update on J. P. Morgan Library Restoration

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

By: Elaine Silber, Co-Chair P&D Committee

Update on J. P. Morgan Library Restoration

Like a lot of projects in Manhattan, the second phase of the Morgan Library & Museum’s restoration plans for the exterior of the library had to be put on hold last spring due to the pandemic. With a few minor exceptions, the first phase of the restoration is complete, including roof replacement, cleaning of the marble exterior, masonry repairs and fence restoration. The remaining work includes finishing touches to the exterior restoration, foundation waterproofing and the installation of the new garden and lighting. This onsite work resumed the third week of March 2021. The Morgan anticipates that the work will be completed by September 2021, with plans to open the garden in the spring of 2022.

It is a testimonial to the building’s solid construction that this is the first major restoration of the library in its 112-year old history. This beautiful landmark building designed by McKim, Meade & White was completed in 1906 and is considered one of the firm’s finest works.

This next phase of work involves site improvements to the East 36th Street side, with a major renovation of the gardens and improved exterior lighting. Award winning landscape designer Todd Longstaffe-Gowan plans to integrate several antiquities into the gardens, including sculptures and a Roman sarcophagus that until now were in the Morgan’s storage facility and inaccessible to the public. Colorful plantings will also be incorporated, and for the first time, there will be access paths to the library building. Using modern technologies, lighting designer Linnaea Tillett has developed a lighting scheme that will enhance the building’s presence at night. The historic lantern in the library’s loggia will be relit, with spotlights highlighting the building and the garden. Overall, the exterior lighting will give the building a very inviting presence.

Every detail of this restoration has been planned with the utmost care and thought. This ambitious restoration will enhance not only the magnificent library building and its grounds, but the entire neighborhood as well.