On Monday evening, the Morgan Library & Museum in New York hosted a black-tie gala to celebrate its centennial as a public institution. Guests, swathed in silk lapels and floor-length evening gowns, entered through the grand arch of the historic building’s original Neoclassical entrance, with spotlights illuminating the facade and a red carpet. 

Inside the rotunda, flutes of champagne chimed as toasts were made, hands shaken, and air kisses bequeathed. The sound of a violin elegantly echoed across the iconic vaulted ceilings, painted in the style of Raphael’s ceiling decorations for the Stanza della Segnatura and Pinturicchio’s frescoes in the Borgia apartments, both in the Vatican.

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Guests mingled among the museum’s three Gutenberg Bibles, centuries-old copies of the Book of Common Prayer, and the Stavelot Triptych, a reliquary made around 1156 which is said to hold fragments of the cross on which Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. In the far-left corner stood a massive cake, realistically decorated to look like six hefty tomes that could have just been pulled from a nearby shelf; it was topped with three candles (for 100) that were decorated to look like stained glass.

The evening’s guest list had a smattering from every cultural corner of the city, including Betty Eveillard, chariman of the Frick Collection; Sean M. Decatur, the president of the American Museum of Natural History; and Rhonda Evans, director of the Mertz Library at the New York Botanical Gardens. Dealer Vito Schnabel, fresh off his cameo in the latest episode of Feud, was seen chatting with the artist Walton Ford, who will next month will have an exhibition of his large-scale watercolors at the Morgan.

Before dinner was served in the Gilbert Court, the Morgan’s president Lawrence R. Ricciardi announced significant endowment pledges aimed at fortifying the institution’s future. Katharine J. Rayner, a trustee since 2011, pledged $10 million toward the endowing of the Morgan’s directorship, which will be known as the Katharine J. Rayner Director for the next 25 years, with Colin B. Bailey, the Morgan’s director since 2015, being its inaugural holder.

Rayner’s gift is part of the Morgan’s Centennial Campaign, which seeks to raise $50 million to enhance the institution’s collections, campus, and operations. Additionally, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation pledged $5 million to the campaign for an endowed fund to support the Morgan’s exhibition program, bringing the campaign’s current total to $25 million.

“This is a significant moment in the Morgan’s history,” Ricciardi said in his remarks. “I am deeply grateful to Katharine Rayner, my fellow Trustees, and our other major donors for their vision and dedication to the Centennial Campaign. These important gifts mark a momentous step forward for the institution.”

After the remarks the Grammy Award–winning soprano Latonia Moore serenaded the crows with a four songs, accompanied by Brian Wagorn on the piano, starting with “The Jewel Song” from Gounod’s Faust and ending with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz. The singer and poet Patti Smith followed Moore with reading of Emily Dickinson’s “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers“ and sang “Wing” from her 1996 album Gone Again. 

After dinner, it was back to the library for music and dancing among the stacks where the crowd seemed to have doubled (and the mean age dropped by at least 30 years).