NEW YORK - When financier JP Morgan decided in 1902 to build a library to house his massive collection of illuminated literary and historical manuscripts, early printed books and drawings near his home at 36th Street and Madison, he wasn't fooling around. 

"The Morgan collection is like a minature library of Alexandria," said Morgan Library and Museum Director Colin Bailey.

Morgan Library and Museum Director Colin Bailey showed NY1 around the complex, which JP Morgan's son Jack established as a public institution in 1924. An annex was added in 1928 where Morgan's home once stood. Another expansion took place in the 1980s when Jack's former home at 37th and Madison was purchased.

"We can imagine ourselves being in the Gilded Age, and just coming down to a drink or to have a meal," Bailey said.

In 2006, Italian Architect Renzo Piano brought it all together to connect the buildings into more of a campus and expand. So there's the gorgeous original library where one of three Guttenberg Bibles are on display, and there's a not so secret door. 

"These force doors that allow you to access each level upstairs," Bailey said.

The elaborate study features a collection of paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance (imagine having meetings in there). There's also the librarian's office galleries with ancient Mesopotamian cylinder seals. The Morgan also pays tribute to JP's private librarian and the Morgans' first director Belle da Costa Greene, an African-American woman who was there for more than four decades.

"The Morgan was one of the most active purchasers of rare books and bindings, and her authority was immense," Bailey said.

In the lobby, a bell from Morgan's Yacht, The Corsair, has a new use — letting folks know it's almost closing time.

"It's a good PA system," Bailey noted.

The Piano expansion brought a reading room, where researchers and students can gain access to the collection, which continues to grow. 

"It's not frozen in time, but we are trying to keep faith with Morgan's standards," Bailey said.

Next up at the Morgan is the original library has a garden, but it's never been open to the public. That changes in the fall.

To find out more, visit