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NYPL's Rose Main Reading Room reveals its stunning renovation

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The magnificent room reopened to the public today

All photographs by Max Touhey for NYPL

The Rose Main Reading Room and Bill Blass Catalog Room of the New York Public Library's main branch reopened today after a modest, but important renovation that decommissioned the spaces for over two years. The renovation, put into action after a plaster rosette fell 52 feet from the ceiling in May 2014, encompassed the restoration of the damaged ceiling and included the redoing of a mural in the Catalog Room.

The renovation was unprecedented for the 105-year-old landmark. To accommodate the project, the Rose Main Reading Room—at 297 feet, the length of two city blocks and nearly the length of a football field—was completely sheathed in scaffolding. (See the rooms mid-renovation here.) EverGreene Architectural Arts who oversaw the project reinforced the ceiling’s 900 plaster elements with steel cable, and recreated and restored the room’s original ceiling murals by James Wall Finn.

Although the room’s restoration is awesome, one of the most exciting things to premiere at today’s reopening is the reading room’s new book train. The train will carry research materials to and from the library’s stacks under Bryant Park, and replaces the facility’s decommissioned pneumatic tube system that was used to ferry books around the library. Check it out in action here.

Over 52,000 reference books are stored in the catalog and reading rooms, and every single one of them was removed for the renovation. Restoring them to their shelves was its own kind of monumental task. See the room get its finishing touches below, courtesy of Max Touhey for the New York Public Library.

New York Public Library

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