Fodor's Expert Review New York Public Library Main Branch

Midtown West Free
New York Public Library, Midtown West, New York City, New York, USA.

The "Library with the Lions," open since 1911, is a masterpiece of Beaux-Arts design and one of the world's great research institutions, with a repository for millions of items including books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, periodicals, and more. For the building's current modernization, expect changes that will adapt it to the 21st century. Renovation continues through 2023 and includes the creation of more public space, a new 40th Street entrance, improved infrastructure, and expanded exhibition spaces. New in 2021 within Gottesman Hall, the free, permanent Polonsky Exhibition of the New York Public Library's Treasures features more than 250 rare and unique items (check the website for details and to see listings for rotating exhibits).

The library's bronze front doors open into Astor Hall, which leads to special exhibit galleries and, to the left, a stunning periodicals room. Ascend the double staircase to a second-floor balconied corridor overlooking the hall, with panels... READ MORE

The "Library with the Lions," open since 1911, is a masterpiece of Beaux-Arts design and one of the world's great research institutions, with a repository for millions of items including books, manuscripts, photographs, maps, periodicals, and more. For the building's current modernization, expect changes that will adapt it to the 21st century. Renovation continues through 2023 and includes the creation of more public space, a new 40th Street entrance, improved infrastructure, and expanded exhibition spaces. New in 2021 within Gottesman Hall, the free, permanent Polonsky Exhibition of the New York Public Library's Treasures features more than 250 rare and unique items (check the website for details and to see listings for rotating exhibits).

The library's bronze front doors open into Astor Hall, which leads to special exhibit galleries and, to the left, a stunning periodicals room. Ascend the double staircase to a second-floor balconied corridor overlooking the hall, with panels highlighting the library's development. Continue up to behold the magisterial Rose Main Reading Room, where natural light pours through the massive windows (the room is open to anyone for quiet study; those just viewing the room must be on a tour). Third-floor galleries show rotating exhibits on print and photography. Free hour-long tours leave Monday–Saturday at 11 and 2 from Astor Hall.

Across 5th Avenue from the main branch is the central circulating branch known as the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (455 5th Ave.), which completed a major renovation in 2021. There, visitors can see the famous lions built from LEGOs, view an imaginative ceiling installation, and spend time on the free roof terrace overlooking the main branch; and yes, NYPL members can even check out books.

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Free Historical Library

Quick Facts

476 5th Ave.
New York, New York  10018, USA

212-930–0800-for exhibit info

www.nypl.org

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