If you have read the book The Personal Librarian. by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray you already know a bit about Belle da Costa Greene, the personal librarian for J.P. Morgan. The summary of the book as found on Amazon is as follows:
In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture in New York City society and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps create a world-class collection.
But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle’s complexion isn’t dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white—her complexion is dark because she is African American. (Amazon.com)
Of course I wanted to see the collection and the office that Belle used during her tenure as the personal librarian and we found ourselves at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. It was fabulous.
First up – the space that held Belle’s office was grandiose and located right next to the “official” library where collections of things that she had a hand in collecting were displayed.
The office now houses many artifacts including an extensive collection of seals.
I found a small reference to Belle in this display but have heard that a larger nod to Belle will be made in the future. No doubt because of the success and popularity of this book.
The actual library was beautiful. Simply stunning.
The collections of books were simply amazing and to imagine the history behind the acquisitions of such magnificent pieces amazed me. From Charles Dickens to the Holy Bible — there is a book for everyone in this library.
Each bookcase held more treasures. The beauty of the shelves and the decor was beyond belief. I spent a lot of time in this room, trust me.
How wonderful to be able to experience a place like this. And this was just the library — the rest of the building housed the museum portions with room upon room of exhibits and artwork that was so artfully displayed and presented.
If you ever make it to New York City this is a great spot to while away some hours. If you have ever visited I would love to hear about your experience. Just leave me a comment and remember that every comment this month means a donation to our Comments for a Cause – Copeland Oaks Library.
5 CommentsLeave a comment
I can’t believe I haven’t visited the Morgan library! Thanks for showing me an intriguing glimpse of it!
Wow. The library looks stunning. I’ve never heard of this before and will keep it in mind next time we are in the city. Thanks for sharing!
Awesome place to visit!!
Unlike any library I’ve ever seen.
What a fantastic library!