February 24, 2012
The Morgan Library is one of my favorite spots in NYC and largely undiscovered by many. Four Visconti-Sforza Tarot cards are on display right now! This is your chance to see the oldest Tarot cards in existence. The Visconti cards date from the 15th Century, were created for Italian nobility and are the first reference point we have when examining Tarot history.
The Chariot, The Hermit (Father Time), The Queen of Swords and The Page of Staves will be on display in Mr. Morgan’s Library from now until May 12th, 2012.
The Morgan will bring out The Juggler, The Queen of Staves, The Popess and The Pope for public display from May 13th through June 4th, 2012.
Here I am with William Volkle, The Morgan’s curator of Renaissance and Medieval Manuscripts. We met last week while conducting historical research for my series of Lo Scarabeo Tarot books.
I’d love to share a few secrets of the Morgan with you . . . but if I share these secrets you must promise to visit the Visconti cards yourself and report back to me after gazing upon them. Promise? Take my hand and we’ll walk into the Gilded Age together . . .
Secret #1 ~ The Case of the Hidden Stairs ~ Note the photo of the main library above and its three levels of bookshelves. How do they get to the second and third level? If you harbor a suspicion that one of the book cases is actually a hidden panel that swings open to a spiral staircase, you are right! When visiting, see if you can detect the hidden staircase for yourself. Once you think you’ve found it, ask a museum guard for confirmation.
Secret #2 ~ JP Morgan’s Lucky Star ~ When you visit the library, look up at the extraordinary ceiling. You’ll see astrological signs abound. Their placement is far from arbitrary. Morgan was an Aries and if you look over the door you’ll see he placed his sign there . . . so he could walk into his library under his lucky star.
Secret #3 ~ Solitary Man ~Morgan aquired many precious objects in his lifetime but did you know he had a soft spot for his Visconti-Sforzas? He originally kept them in his private study, on his desk within hands reach. Morgan, like Napoleon, was in the habit of playing meditative solitaire when contemplating a big decision. Was Morgan seeking answers within those golden Viscontis? It appears he just may have.
Secret #4 ~ Age of Aquarius ~ The oldest depiction of Aquarius? This just might be it:
This ancient Syrian seal is over 3,000 years old! See the bearded man with the water jug with two stars above? The seal is dated 1720 – 1650 BC and you can find it in the newly opened Librarian’s Office in the Morgan.
This Syrian seal is displayed next to my favorite Mesopotamian Eclipse Prayer Tablet. Even three thousand years ago, eclipses were odd and strange events!
Secret #5 ~ Rare Manuscripts at Your Fingertips ~ The last and most important secret I’d like to share is really not a secret at all. The Morgan offers us the most extraordinary opportunity to examine their online collection and exhibitions. In fact, using technology, you can get closer to a medieval manuscript your computer than you could in person.
Everything from Charlotte Bronte’s diary to Mozart’s “Haffner” Symphony manuscript to Charles Dickens’ original manuscript of The Christmas Carol is available for you to look at online! Open up and browse to your heart’s content.
The Morgan Library is one of NYC’s greatest treasures and feels like walking into a Hogwart library. Make a date to step back in time and visit this extraordinary repository of art and literature. I promise you will be so very happy you did.
The Morgan Library & Museum
225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street
New York, NY 10016
Entrance to the Morgan Library is free of Friday evenings from 7pm – 9pm.
The Morgan Library & Museum and the Morgan Shop are open
Tuesday through Thursday: 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Morgan closes at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and at 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.
Closed Monday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day