Launch Slideshow

Image

Morgan Library & Museum McKim Building

Morgan Library & Museum McKim Building

  • Morgan Library & Museum McKim Building

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp3335%2Etmp_tcm20-658477.jpg

    true

    Morgan Library & Museum McKim Building

    600

    © Todd Eberle

    Morgan Library & Museum McKim Building

  • The rotunda is composed of marbles in various shades, which appeared dingy after accumulating 100 years of dirt and grime and were obscured by dim lighting and weakly filtered daylight. "Originally, natural light entered the rotunda through the skylight," explains Beyer Blinder Belle project architect Cleary Larkin. "For curatorial reasons, we closed it off from daylight and added a new lens and electric light source to a roof-mounted enclosure."

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp3333%2Etmp_tcm20-658459.jpg

    true

    The rotunda is composed of marbles in various shades, which appeared dingy after accumulating 100 years of dirt and grime and were obscured by dim lighting and weakly filtered daylight. "Originally, natural light entered the rotunda through the skylight," explains Beyer Blinder Belle project architect Cleary Larkin. "For curatorial reasons, we closed it off from daylight and added a new lens and electric light source to a roof-mounted enclosure."

    600

    Graham Haber

    The rotunda is composed of marbles in various shades, which appeared dingy after accumulating 100 years of dirt and grime and were obscured by dim lighting and weakly filtered daylight. "Originally, natural light entered the rotunda through the skylight," explains Beyer Blinder Belle project architect Cleary Larkin. "For curatorial reasons, we closed it off from daylight and added a new lens and electric light source to a roof-mounted enclosure."

  • The marble surfaces were cleanedthough one patch was left dingy to highlight the difference.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp3327%2Etmp_tcm20-658353.jpg

    true

    The marble surfaces were cleanedthough one patch was left dingy to highlight the difference.

    600

    The marble surfaces were cleaned, though one patch was left dingy to highlight the difference.

  • These improvements, combined with the new simulated daylight and retrofitted fixtures, allow visitors to fully appreciate the rotunda's mosaic panels and lapis lazuli columns.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp3332%2Etmp_tcm20-658450.jpg

    true

    These improvements, combined with the new simulated daylight and retrofitted fixtures, allow visitors to fully appreciate the rotunda's mosaic panels and lapis lazuli columns.

    600

    Graham Haber

    These improvements, combined with the new simulated daylight and retrofitted fixtures, allow visitors to fully appreciate the rotunda's mosaic panels and lapis lazuli columns.

  • Image

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp332A%2Etmp_tcm20-658378.jpg

    true

    Image

    600

    Courtesy Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners

  • Restoration work included cleaning the surface ornamentation (including restoration work on the wallpaper) and a new lighting strategy. New bases were created for some of the sculptures, the books in the perimeter cases were removed and cleaned.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp332C%2Etmp_tcm20-658396.jpg

    true

    Restoration work included cleaning the surface ornamentation (including restoration work on the wallpaper) and a new lighting strategy. New bases were created for some of the sculptures, the books in the perimeter cases were removed and cleaned.

    600

    Graham Haber

    Restoration work included cleaning the surface ornamentation (including restoration work on the wallpaper) and a new lighting strategy. New bases were created for some of the sculptures; the books in the perimeter cases were removed and cleaned.

  • Art was carefully returned to its original location on the walls after work was completed.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp332D%2Etmp_tcm20-658405.jpg

    true

    Art was carefully returned to its original location on the walls after work was completed.

    600

    Graham Haber

    Art was carefully returned to its original location on the walls after work was completed.

  • In the West room, which served as J.P. Morgans private study, time had taken its toll, fading the red wallcoverings and furniture and dulling the finishes

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp3336%2Etmp_tcm20-658486.jpg

    true

    In the West room, which served as J.P. Morgans private study, time had taken its toll, fading the red wallcoverings and furniture and dulling the finishes

    600

    © Todd Eberle

    In the West room, which served as J.P. Morgans private study, time had taken its toll, fading the red wallcoverings and furniture and dulling the finishes

  • More faded red wallcoverings and furniture and finishes In the West room.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp3334%2Etmp_tcm20-658468.jpg

    true

    More faded red wallcoverings and furniture and finishes In the West room.

    600

    © Todd Eberle

    More faded red wallcoverings and furniture and finishes In the West room.

  • The result is a much softer lighting scheme, which allows the again-vibrant reds to glow in the space.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp3338%2Etmp_tcm20-658603.jpg

    true

    The result is a much softer lighting scheme, which allows the again-vibrant reds to glow in the space.

    600

    Graham Haber

    The result is a much softer lighting scheme, which allows the again-vibrant reds to glow in the space.

  • Image

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp3329%2Etmp_tcm20-658369.jpg

    true

    Image

    600

    Graham Haber

  • An outdated lighting system combined with reflective acrylic panels in the bookcases made the East room, or library, seem dim, and did not show off the massive collection of rare volumes.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp3331%2Etmp_tcm20-658441.jpg

    true

    An outdated lighting system combined with reflective acrylic panels in the bookcases made the East room, or library, seem dim, and did not show off the massive collection of rare volumes.

    600

    Graham Haber

    An outdated lighting system combined with reflective acrylic panels in the bookcases made the East room, or library, seem dim, and did not show off the massive collection of rare volumes.

  • Over the entry door, the team restored and reinstalled the original chandelier (which had been in storage since the 1940s), and they laid a newly acquired antique carpet, similar to what would have been in place originally.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp332E%2Etmp_tcm20-658414.jpg

    true

    Over the entry door, the team restored and reinstalled the original chandelier (which had been in storage since the 1940s), and they laid a newly acquired antique carpet, similar to what would have been in place originally.

    600

    Graham Haber

    Over the entry door, the team restored and reinstalled the original chandelier (which had been in storage since the 1940s), and they laid a newly acquired antique carpet, similar to what would have been in place originally.

  • Each case was cleaned and the existing acrylic panels were swapped for a new nonreflective acrylic material.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp3328%2Etmp_tcm20-658362.jpg?width=432

    true

    Each case was cleaned and the existing acrylic panels were swapped for a new nonreflective acrylic material.

    432

    Graham Haber

    Each case was cleaned and the existing acrylic panels were swapped for a new nonreflective acrylic material.

  • The cases were then shrouded in plastic to protect the collection as the floor, ceilings, and other surfaces were restored.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp332B%2Etmp_tcm20-658387.jpg

    true

    The cases were then shrouded in plastic to protect the collection as the floor, ceilings, and other surfaces were restored.

    600

    Graham Haber

    The cases were then shrouded in plastic to protect the collection as the floor, ceilings, and other surfaces were restored.

Even in a city chock-full of world-class cultural institutions, the Morgan Library & Museum stands out as an encyclopedic repository of art and artifacts. Its core holdings were amassed by financier John Pierpont Morgan, who collected so many manuscripts, old master drawings, and early printed books that in 1902, construction began on a private library designed by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead & White. In 1924, Morgan’s son turned the collection into a public museum that has expanded steadily over the decades, with several additions to accommodate the ever-growing holdings.

The Morgan’s quiet evolution got noisy in 2006, with the unveiling of a 75,000-square-foot expansion designed by Renzo Piano, in collaboration with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners (BBB). Three new pavilions rendered in steel and glass integrate the Morgan’s three existing landmark buildings. But as the applause died down, the museum eyed McKim’s Italianate marble palazzo: “Mr. Morgan’s Library” had not benefited from a full interior restoration in its 100-year existence.

Construction began in June (after two years of meticulous planning) on the rotunda, library, study, and librarian’s office. The project included a new lighting strategy; restoration of period furniture, fixtures, applied ornamentation, and murals; new casework for revolving exhibitions; and electrical and mechanical upgrades.

BBB helped determine the scope of work and the process for implementation. The firm’s oversight and design role were key to getting the project reviewed by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Structural intervention was limited to the rotunda’s oculus, but BBB also oversaw the reinstallation of original chandeliers, which had been in storage for decades.

One thing those chandeliers didn’t need was a retrofit from gas to electric power. Morgan was a patron of Thomas Edison and an early adopter of electric lighting: his home and library used the then-new technology. So it is only fitting that lighting was critical to the centennial restoration. “The goal was to dramatize the architectural features and artwork without being theatrical,” explains museum deputy director Brian Regan. “We were intent on creating a nuanced visual experience in which the artifacts resonate.”

Designed by the Renfro Design Group, a local lighting design firm with specialized knowledge in restoration projects for museums and libraries, the scheme uses incandescents, fiber optics, halogens, fluorescents, and LEDs. Radiosity and ray-tracing techniques were used to calculate and diagram various scenarios, but in the end, physical mock-ups were key to selecting the best solution. Sections of rooms were evaluated with input from the curators, who paid special attention to materials vulnerable to high levels of damaging rays.

Now complete, the restoration showcases the original craftsmanship: details lost to grime and shadow again appear in sharp relief. Mr. Morgan would be pleased.


Project Credits

Project Morgan Library & Museum McKim Building, New York
Client Morgan Library & Museum—William M. Griswold (director); Brian Regan (deputy director); Jennifer Tonkovich (curator, drawings and prints); Thomas Shannon (director of facilities)
Architect Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners—Frank Prial, Cleary Larkin
Structural Engineer Robert Silman Associates
Electrical Engineer JFK&M Consulting Group
Electrical Contractor E-J Electric Installation Co.
Lighting Designer Richard Renfro, Renfro Design Group
Exhibition Designer Stephen Saitas, Stephen Saitas Designs
Size 14,700 square feet
Cost $4.5 million

Materials and Sources

Carpet Nazmiyal nazmiyalantiquerugs.com; Costikyan costikyan.com
Ceilings
Rustin Levenson Art Conservation Associates (North room ceiling restoration) artcarenyc.com
Exhibition Cases
Case[werks] casewerks.com
Flooring
Haywood Berk Floor Co. haywoodberk.com
Furniture
Judy Cormier Interiors (restoration) judycormier.com
Glass
Grewe Plastics greweco.com
Lighting Control Systems
Lutron Electronics Co. lutron.com
Lighting
Visual Lighting Technologies (LED) visual-lighting.com; The Lighting Quotient (Elliptipar fluorescent fixtures) thelightingquotient.com; Edison Price Lighting epl.com; Nulux nulux.com
Lighting Fixture Restoration
Aurora Lampworks auroralampworks.com
Masonry and Stone
Integrated Con­servation Resources icr-icc.com; Remco Maintenance myremco.com; Platinum Maintenance platinummaintenance.com
Metal
Competition Architectural Metals; Les Métalliers Champenois l-m-c.com
Plumbing and Water System
American Contracting
Roofing Patti Roofing pattiroofing.com
Windows, Curtainwalls, Doors
Merrick Industries (doors)