September 28 was Museum Day Live, an event hosted by the Smithsonian magazine where participating museums allowed visitors to enter for free. Not missing the chance to see a museum for free, I picked the most expensive museum on the list to save a few dollars. Finishing my Saturday errands, I headed off to…
Usual admission for the museum is $18, but I got in for free. (Thanks Smithsonian Magazine!) They give you a little clip that you keep on to show that you’ve paid, which you can keep as souvenir. The floor plan shows that there are three levels to explore; however if you look closely, you will realize that the two other levels aside from the main floor consist of one gallery each.
Heading off to see my first exhibit, I ventured through a small hallway with very beautifully painted ceilings. This small hallway with its arched ceiling and dimmed lighting makes it feel as if you were transported back to the medieval times. The first exhibit to be spotted was a rather small display case of letters written by J.D. Salinger to an aspiring novelist. Next to that is the Edgar Allan Poe exhibit that wasn’t opened to the public then, (I would’ve liked to see it). Right across from the Poe gallery is the gallery for 18th century Venetian drawings. As I’ve never heard of any of these artists, I breezed through and snapped some shots, however a security personnel told me pictures aren’t allowed. Going back through the amazing hallway, venture up the stairs to the second floor to see the gallery of pre-1900 drawings. Most memorable to me was a drawing of a plant and a seaport drawing. There was a drawing by Monet too. Again, security told me pictures are not allowed in the gallery.
Pictures are allowed outside of the galleries. There are various small display cases outside of the galleries. Surrounded by the display cases is the gallery for the books that won the Man Booker Prize, which is a prize awarded to fiction by authors from Britain and Ireland. The books that have won and that I heard of include The Satanic Verses, The God of Small Things and The Life of Pi. If you like books, definitely go take a look.
Continuing on the first floor, I reached the library and the study, which once belonged to Pierpont Morgan. The highlight of this museum is definitely the study and library area; my first time seeing such a grand study in person. The library is filled with books from wall to wall and in some display cases, also an astonishing sight in person. In addition to these two rooms was the librarian’s office. In there you will find more books, and ancient Near Eastern artifacts. After viewing the grand library area, the gallery on the lower level was a disappointment. Going down a rather steep flight of stairs, the lower level consisted of three paintings and a display of the difference facades the museum had at various points in time.
One thing that made my visit particularly uncomfortable was the sheer amount of security personnel present. There was at least one security guard per gallery. I understand that they are necessary, but I just don’t enjoy the feeling of having people watching me all the time. (I had a backpack on that day, and was told twice that I can’t have both straps on my shoulders, one had to be off, so that the backpack would hang like a handbag. I didn’t see why I had to do that.)
I spent less than an hour there and saw everything the museum had to offer. For the amount of items on display, it definitely doesn’t warrant the high admissions price (I have a feeling that all the admission fees goes into paying all the security guards). The Morgan Library and Museum targets a specific audience, the art or book enthusiast will definitely enjoy the exhibits. However if you don’t particularly enjoy either, or you are traveling with children, then head somewhere else; but do come back (don’t bring the kids though) on Fridays between 7-9 for free to see the library and the study, they are must sees!