New York Public Library Closes Rose Reading Room

The Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library's main branch. Photo: Matt Pasant, via Flickr.
The Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library's main branch. Photo: Matt Pasant, via Flickr.

The iconic Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library‘s 103-year-old 42nd Street flagship will remain closed for six months after a plaster rosette fell from the ceiling last month, according to a press release.

The nearly two-block-long room, which sees an average of 2.3 million visitors each year, boasts gorgeous 52-foot tall ceilings adorned with intricate plaster detailing and murals of billowing pink clouds. The space was last restored in 1998, thanks to a $15 million gift from the Rose family, whom the room is now named after.

At about 2 a.m. on May 29, a plaster rosette of about 12 to 16 inches wide came crashing down from the ceiling above. Luckily, the library was closed at that time, but after an initial two-week assessment, the organization has called for a more thorough investigation and repair in order to ensure that the rest of the ceiling is completely sound.

“Public safety is our top priority,” Anthony Marx, the library’s president, told the Wall Street Journal.

The hole in the ceiling of Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library's main branch. Photo: courtesy the New York Public Library.

The hole in the ceiling of Rose Main Reading Room at the New York Public Library’s main branch.
Photo: courtesy the New York Public Library.

During the six-month closure, library patrons will be able to request books in the central corridor on the second floor. Additional rooms, not normally open to the public, will be set up to accommodate people looking to work in the library.

A recently scuttled renovation plan for the library would have relocated all of the books located in the stacks beneath the reading room to New Jersey to make way for a new circulating branch (see New York Times report). The plan was widely criticized by those who thought it would limit scholarly research, and by those who appreciated the historical and architectural significance of the stacks.


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