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If you’ve watched the series or read The Alienist, a work of historical fiction by Caleb Carr, you’ve seen a representation of J.P. Morgan as a powerful financier who controlled Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt’s New York City of 1896.
In reality he was the USA’s most influential banker, financing the railroad, US Steel, General Electric, etc… With a group of other bankers, he helped to stabilize American markets during the Panic of 1907.
He was also an avid collector of rare books, manuscripts, antiquities and art with nearly inexhaustible funds. He built a lavish library in 1906 to house his collections. In 1924, his son opened to library to the public as a museum.
J.P. Morgan used the West Room as his private study. Its furnishings reflect his fondness for the art of the Renaissance. It was here that he met with the group of bankers in 1907 to resolve the national economic crisis. There is a vault in this room for the most valuable manuscripts.
The rotunda, with its marble columns and elaborate ceilings, was the original entrance to Morgan’s private study. The blue and white reliefs are modeled after the work of the artist Raphael in Rome. The paintings represent the three ages contained in Morgan’s collections: The Antiquities, Middle Ages and Renaissance.
The East Room is the original library. It is three stories of carved walnut and contains rare books including a Bible printed by Johannes Gutenberg in 1455.
More modern buildings were added to the museum later and contain rotating and permanent exhibits. We enjoyed the Etruscan jewelry section!
Location: 225 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016
Designation: National Historic Landmark
Date designated or established: 11/13/1966
Date of my visit: 9/6/2015