For the first time in its 112-year history, the Morgan Library & Museum’s Charles McKim-designed library is getting a revamp. The museum announced today that it will undertake an extensive makeover of the Neoclassical-style building on 36th Street between Madison and Park avenues, which was commissioned by J. Pierpont Morgan in 1902 and completed in 1906. It was one of the city’s earliest landmarks, designated in 1966.
“This is the first time that we have the opportunity to really improve the way the building and its decorations and its sculpture looks,” Colin B. Bailey, the museum’s director, told the New York Times.
The restoration is expected to cost $12.5 million, and will include fixing the facade of the library building—whose sculptures, masonry, and metalwork all need repairs—as well as upgrading the lighting around the structure. The museum has also commissioned Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Landscape Design and Future Green Studio to reimagine the open space around the building.
Since this is just an exterior renovation, the library will stay open for the duration of the restoration work, which will kick off this week. The whole project, which reportedly has three-quarters of its funding, is expected to be finished by 2020.
The Morgan complex comprises several buildings: In addition to the McKim library—arguably the museum’s most impressive structure—there’s also an annex, which was built in 1928 on a parcel where Morgan’s own home once stood; the new Madison Avenue-facing entrance, which was designed by Renzo Piano and opened in 2006; and a townhouse on 37th Street, which is now where the museum shop and restaurant are located.