The Museum of Modern Art houses a collection of 150,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other works, displayed in crisp contemporary galleries on West 53rd Street. MoMA is not as daring a design statement as such other showcases of modern art as the Tate Modern, the Pompidou Centre, or the Guggenheim Bilbao. Even so, as the vanguard of commerce and corporate might, Midtown provides an appropriate backdrop for the art movements that have broken new ground. Stepping off the busy Midtown avenues to stand in front of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon or Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy is one of the city’s most transporting experiences.
While MoMA celebrates the modern, the Morgan Library and Museum preserves some of the earliest examples of the written word. J. Pierpont Morgan, the great financier and banker, was a connoisseur of fine art and an avid collector of illuminated manuscripts, rare books, prints, and drawings. He left his entire collection to the city of New York. Galleries show off drawings by Michelangelo and Rembrandt, Gutenberg bibles, sheet music by Beethoven, and scraps of paper on which Bob Dylan jotted down lyrics for Blowin’ in the Wind.