One Exhibit to Rule Them All



The Morgan’s newest exhibit takes viewers into the whimsical world of J.R.R. Tolkien.


“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” — J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Lord of the Rings”

As I enter The Morgan Library & Museum on a brisk Thursday morning, I’m swept into a world that I’ve only ever read about. Wizards in tall pointed hats tower above me and elves in elegant white dresses shuffle past me. Sadly, I forgot my own sting at home. Still, we are all here to experience the magical world of J.R.R. Tolkien through the exhibit “Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth.”

After a grueling 30-minute wait consisting of three granola bars and a dull conversation with a red-haired elf, I’m finally directed towards a hobbit-shaped entrance. As I walk under it, I’m greeted by a bright green wall displaying an exquisite watercolor painting of The Shire that was so inspired, had I not been paying attention, I would have believed I was walking into the home of Bilbo Baggins himself.

Additionally, Tolkien family memorabilia such as letters and photographs are displayed alongside original illustrations, maps and designs for “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Similarillon.” Each illustration was more magnificent than the next, but my favorite was one of Smaug the dragon from “The Hobbit.” In it, a bright orange Smaug hoards away a stash of glistening gold coins while thick billowing smoke comes out of his nostrils.

With the use of some simple writings and props, the exhibit creates an immersive and enjoyable view into the whimsical world of Tolkien — so much so that people wait in line for hours and dress up in elaborate costumes.

It was such an enjoyable experience, and I’m willing to bet a hearty slice of honey cake that even the most glum of museumgoers will walk out of it with a love for Tolkien’s fantasy worlds.

“Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth” is open through May 12 at the Morgan Library, 225 Madison Ave. Fordham students can get there by taking the D train to 34th Street – Herald Square. Admission is $13 with a valid student ID.