On March 13, 2020, just two weeks before the start of fiscal year 2021, the Morgan closed its doors to the public in response to the COVID-19 crisis. We remained shuttered for nearly six months. This report covers the period of April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, and we prepare it with an especially deep sense of gratitude to you, the donors acknowledged in these pages, who sustained us through one of the most difficult times in the Morgan’s history.
In fiscal year 2021, the Morgan found new and creative ways to care for our collection, serve the public, and undertake our daily work. With your help, we were able to avoid layoffs of our talented and dedicated staff throughout the closure. Thanks to their commitment and flexibility, the Morgan has continued to flourish in so many ways in the face of myriad challenges.
Nearly overnight, we moved core activities and programs to the digital realm and found innovative ways to engage our audiences online. The Morgan, Connected, an e-newsletter launched in March 2020, began as a way to stay in touch with our audiences during the temporary museum closure. It went on to win Apollo magazine’s award for Digital Innovation of the Year and now has a subscriber list of over fifty thousand. Our website had nearly seven million visits, and our public programs reached over eighteen thousand households through virtual tours, lectures, and workshops. The Morgan’s flagship education program, the Morgan Book Project, served almost six hundred students remotely. Skilled librarians and conservators also found ways to assist scholars virtually and to increase access to information about our collections.
In May 2020, the murder of George Floyd—whose tragic death was preceded by those of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black Americans—led cultural institutions across the nation to reflect deeply on issues of social justice, inequity, and systemic racism. The Morgan responded to the call for greater diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) and to address the role of cultural institutions in this important movement. The staff accelerated and intensified efforts already underway, developing and launching the Morgan’s first six-month DEAI action plan. I hope you will take the time to review our plan in detail. While there is much still to do, we achieved many of our early goals, including the launch of the Belle da Costa Greene Curatorial Fellowships, a pair of two-year fellowships for young scholars from communities underrepresented in the museum and special collections fields, who will bring new voices and perspectives to our work.
In September 2020, we reopened our campus. The Morgan was among the first museums and research centers in New York City to do so, and we gladly welcomed both the general public and scholars back with robust safety protocols in place. The Morgan went on to present an extraordinary roster of exhibitions, with highlights including Betye Saar: Call and Response, David Hockney: Drawing from Life, Poetry and Patronage: The Laubespine-Villeroy Library Rediscovered, and Conversations in Drawing: Seven Centuries of Art from the Gray Collection. We also continued with our mission to serve scholars and were able to add significant acquisitions to our collection, all of which you can explore in this report.
As the pandemic began, we were poised to begin work on Phase II of our project to restore and enhance the exterior of J. Pierpont Morgan’s Library, including the construction of a new garden that will enable public access to the 36th Street site for the first time in our history. Not surprisingly, the pandemic made it necessary for us to pause this project. In the meantime, we turned to other health-critical capital projects to improve air circulation in our office spaces and undertook important planning work to install a more effective and efficient HVAC system, which will help to ensure the appropriate climate conditions throughout the Morgan campus and allow us to reduce our carbon footprint.
When I look back on fiscal year 2021, I am deeply grateful for all that was accomplished in the midst of the unthinkable. On behalf of everyone at the Morgan, I thank you again for your ongoing commitment, and, as always, I look forward to seeing you in the galleries or online soon.