A First and a Return Visit

September 23, 2015


My last visit to a museum was on May 1st. This was the first day the new Whitney was open to the public (see July 8th blog). In view of this time lapse, I decided it was a good idea to visit two museums: one I’ve never visited and a return visit to a second one.


The Morgan Museum Library and Museum is located at 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street. As I looked on the web for the hours it was open I came across “Free admission on Friday nights from 7 to 9 pm.” I thought to myself, “Why not?”

I believed that by going on a Friday night in late July there would be very few people. After all, it was at the end of a week when the weather was in the sweltering 90s so I thought that everyone would be heading out of town.

Imagine my surprise when I walked in and saw that the place was jumping. I quickly sought out the information desk and asked where I should start. “We’re a small museum,” I was told. “And right now the Alice in Wonderland exhibit is very crowded, so you should go to the library first.”

I headed straight to the back where the café in the atrium is located and noticed that every table was taken. Going up a few stairs, and through several doors, I passed through the Rotunda with its spectacular dome before entering Pierpont Morgan’s Library. Aside from its amazing book collection, its most arresting features are its magnificent ceiling and its three-story walnut bookshelves.

As I turned to leave, I decided to take a picture of the dramatic dome in the Rotunda with my camera. Big mistake. Guards rushed from two directions saying, “No flash, no flash, turn off your flash.”

I ended up buying postcards.

Rotunda that faces the East Room of the Morgan Library

The East Room of the Morgan Library, 1906


I decided to visit the Frick (70th and Fifth Avenue) on Sunday, August 2nd because between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm one can pay whatever one wants. I walked straight up Fifth Avenue at 10:00 and found it to be quite enjoyable.

As I rounded the corner at 70th a half-hour early I was astounded to see roughly 200 people in a line outside the Frick. “I never expected this line,” I said to the young Asian girl standing ahead of me.

We began chatting and she told me that she had only been in New York two days and was from a city near Shanghai, China. I told her she spoke excellent English and she said, “I’m also studying German and Italian.”

Because it was getting hotter by the minute the Frick employees let us in before 11:00 am. I was really amazed at the art collection: a Vermeer in the South Hall and an El Greco, Turner, Rembrandt and Hobbema in the Living Hall. Seeing these amazing works in a private home is a unique experience. At one point I said to myself, “My God, I’m inches away from a Rembrandt.”

I took a number of pictures with my flash camera in the Garden Court. This was the only spot where one was allowed to shoot.

The Garden Court in the Frick Museum


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Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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