26 April 2006 saw the inauguration of the new Morgan Library & Museum
, designed by architect Renzo Piano
, following a three year construction project costing 106 million dollars. The original buildings are now linked by a “piazza” accessible from the new entrance on Madison Avenue, between 36th and 37th Street, and protected by a glass and steel structure almost 16 metres high, opening onto the street. The decision to expand and renovate was taken so as to provide more space and exhibit a greater number of items from the superb collection - totalling 350,000, including manuscripts, prints, books, drawings and seals - and create better facilities for the storage of items not on display, but available to scholars and researchers. Renzo Piano has created new galleries, a naturallylit reading room, a spacious underground storage facility for works not on show and, also underground, a 280-seater auditorium. Visitors will be able to admire 300 masterpieces, including a selection of drawings from Leonardo to Picasso, music written by Mozart and Bob Dylan, manuscripts by Galileo and Poe. The challenge facing the Genoa architect was to integrate a structure of steel and glass - the main materials of modern architecture - into a setting characterized by buildings of the early 20th century, and the grand mansions and Palladian façades of Madison Avenue. The elevators (and stairs) - also glass and steel - lead from the lobby area to the library proper, where the “modern” material gives way to traditional wood. Also on the ground floor is a small “cube” for displays in which the light is controlled (as throughout the museum-andlibrary) by a computer that analyzes exterior light data in real time. Still lower, 20 metres deep into the bedrock of Manhattan, vaults have been dug to contain books and manuscripts of inestimable value. Renzo Piano has extended the Renaissance style building with its Palladian influences, erected by the banker Pierpont Morgan, by adding a series of modern, light-filled pavilions. As technical sponsor on the Morgan Library project, concerned with lighting installations, iGuzzini offered suitable fixtures, and the benefit of the company’s extensive experience in design.
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