I went to the Morgan Library and Museum to see ‘The Little Prince’ exhibit….AND IT WAS AMAZING!
T’was a warm, but windy day in lower-midtown Manhattan. The sun was particularly generous that winter day. If it had not been for the chilling gust of wind, I might have gotten away with wearing a spring jacket in stead of a winter coat. Luckily for The Girl in the Tiny Hat and myself, the Morgan Library was not too far from the 33rd street stop on the six train. It was refreshing to see the buildings bathed in bright sunlight after the harsh winter we’d been receiving. I savored the view as I read and re-read the directions.
The Morgan itself was beautiful; both the old, elegantly carved building and the glass new one. I was relieved to see they had a coat check, my first mesmerizing experience in the museum. Tiny Hat and myself started in Pierpont Morgan’s West Room where we got a small taste of his vast collection of books and art. Towards the end of his life, Peirpont spend most of his time in the West Room, away from banking. There is portrait of Mr. Morgan himself over the fifteenth-century fireplace, and one of his son, J.P. Morgan Jr., which is hung between the west windows can be found in the sanctuary. A small room to the left of his enormous desk was filled to the brim with more books. I can see why he preferred it to Wall Street.
We made a quick run-through of the Rotunda (central area covered by a dome). This room was more dedicated to artwork that gave homage to the literary world. American artist H. Siddons Mowbray painted the ceiling to showcase the three major eras in Morgan’s collection: the ancient world, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. The recess in blue and white depicts classical and mythological artwork based on Raphael’s design. It was quite stunning. I whipped out the old iPhone and ‘snapped’ away.
The Rotunda led into what I considered the most breath-taking room of the whole museum. The North and East Room. Straight out of every book lover’s imagination. Bookcase after bookcase, wall to wall, floor to ceiling all filled with books. Oh, the priceless pictures that will forever be burned into my memory! One of a kind Middle Ages bibles, first editions, handwritten manuscripts and a letter from J.D. Salinger. It was like literally walking into a dream. The room was built to house Pierpont’s rare printed books. Unfortunately the balconies to the two upper levels were closed off, but a guard was allowing people to gently touch the books. Such a small, yet meaningful thing to do.
The décor of the room perfectly matches the magnificence the books provide. A sixteenth-century tapestry depicting the sin ‘greed’ hangs above the mantel piece, and more beautiful paintings of the zodiac by H. Siddons Mowbray. Tiny Hat and myself were rendered silent by the heavenly mystique. We spent most of our time reading through the displays and gazing dreamily all around us. If I didn’t know better, I’d say we died and went to heaven! But I know better ;).
In a rush to get to ‘The Little Prince’ exhibit, we took a fast look at the ‘Visions and Nightmares’ exhibit. A small room housed the ‘Four Centuries of Spanish Drawings’. They were all touching in their own way. A few showed innocence, while others revealed a dark, turmoiled Spanish view. A 1780’s ‘Don Quixote’ was also in the mix.
Now to the disappointing part….. No pictures allowed in ‘The Little Prince’ exhibit. The most I could sneak is down below. Aside from that, the exhibit was uplifting and exciting. Having re-read ‘The Little Prince’ earlier that day with Little Hat, we were all smiles to see some of the original manuscript and watercolor drawings. This room, which had been modestly painted to go with the book theme, was the most packed with people. Navigating our way around, marveled in old copies of the book, unused versions of Saint-Exupery’s drawings, and plagues of knowledge. The story of an alien prince in the Sahara desert marked a special place in my heart for it to live forever. It was so wonderful to see some of the things that went into making it.
Tiny Hat and I ended our trip to the Morgan Library and Museum in the gift shop…… I couldn’t help buying everything I wanted! Damn gift shops and their stuff.
(Interesting tid-bit: ‘Mary Poppins’ by P.L. Travers shared a publisher with Saint-Exupery)