Sunday, September 26, 2010

I took advantage of the Smithsonian Media's free Museum Day yesterday by printing out a ticket for The Morgan Library & Museum. Friend Barbara has always raved about it, and it's one New York jewel I'd not explored. So, Desire + Free + Saturday = Shorty Hits The Morgan. There was only one massive disappointment, but I'll get to that later.

Seems old Pierpont Morgan, Sr. was quite the collector of manuscripts and artifacts, and fortunately Pierpont, Jr. saw fit to give the public access to these treasures in 1924. It seems kind of a hodge-podge of buildings. Well, hodge-podge isn't the right term. Maybe, "distinctive" is better.There's a big old brownstone, the McKim buiding, a museum annex, and a new Renzo Piano expansion.

Current special exhibits feature Roy Lichtenstein drawings, Mark Twain manuscripts and letters (what splendid handwriting the man had!) , Degas drawings and sketchbooks, and photos, film, and artifacts from Anne Morgan's volunteer work in France after World War I. As a WWI aficianado I found the Anne Morgan exhibit really interesting and quite a tribute to the women who went to France after the war to set up libraries, schools, and hospitals in one of the devastated areas.

My big disappointment is that the McKim building is undergoing renovation and won't open again until the end of October. I was looking forward to seeing Mr. Morgan's study and library and the rest of that gorgeous building, but, alas, it was not to be. Not this time. Sigh.

The Morgan is one of the few places in NYC that doesn't allow photography inside the building, so I can only offer you a few exterior shots. But check out the museum's webside for lovely pictures of the interior and exhibits.

And a reminder: Do yo'self a favor and check out free Museum Day next year. Seems to be a great selection of museums all over the country, so start planning now to make out like a bandit. I mean, what J. P. Morgan paid a gazillion dollars for, I got to see for free yesterday.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Moonful of Sugar

There's not much "sugar" in the "medicine" of having to get up at 3:00am in order to strike out by 4:00 to catch a 4:40 train to Washington DC, so I wasn't expecting much on my pre-dawn ride from East Harlem to Penn Station. I dragged my sleepy butt into the spot-on-time, pre-scheduled car in the hope that I would rouse up enough along the way to crawl through the station and roll onto the (right) train.

But, you know what? As the car turned left onto Fifth Avenue at 115th to zip down to 33rd, there was no way I could close my eyes and lean back. On my right, a huge, nearly full moon grazed the tops of the Central Park trees. "I'm with ya', kiddo," it called out to me. "At least, until we get to all those Midtown skyscrapers." We caught all the lights just as they turned green, so it was smooth sailing past the park, the Guggenheim, the Met, the toney Upper East Side rich folks apartments.

The Plaza and its fountain were lit up and looking end-of-summer spectacular. Bergdorf's, Tiffany's, all-night Duane Reades and diners had store windows ablaze. And, yes, the City That Never Sleeps offered us plenty company in the form of traffic.

Bottom line, it was worth waking up for. A moonful of sugar helps the waking-up-at 3am medicine go down. Spectacular city!