February 25, 2019

Visit Middle Earth in Midtown Manhattan


Hobbiton, as imagined by The Lord of the Rings filmmakers, photographed by Rob Chandler and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The master of Middle Earth has arrived in NYC. No, not Tolkien himself, but maybe the next best thing—an exhibit fully dedicated to the original artwork that served as the building grounds to the world he created. Hosted by The Morgan Library and Museum, this exhibit is live now until May 19th.

Besides putting yourself at risk of being labeled “dweeb” for getting excited over this (Embrace your full fantasy loving self!), this is an incredible opportunity to learn how the stories writers create truly do come to life, thus, placing them in our realities. Tolkien is an exceptional example of this. Middle Earth might not exist in the sense of being able to hop on a flight and book a room, but it exists in spirit and intensely curated depiction.

Regardless of his level of skill that may, at times, seem unattainable, his work should still serve as model to us writers. This exhibit is proof of passion. Say what you will about fantasy writing, or the craze surrounding the Hobbit and LOTR, but recognize the prime example of craft attention that Tolkien offers us.

The exhibit displays his skill as not only a cartographer, but as a linguist—offering sheets covering his extensive workings on the multiple strains of language that include the “Tree of Tongues” and samples of fonts used for “The Fire-writing.”

Although the movies give you a very explicit look at the world created, Tolkien, like any other writer, had his own visions. Sketches of different scenes, cover art, and depictions of different items that inhabit Middle Earth can be seen here too.

If you plan on making the journey, please know there are some guidelines the museum asks you to comply with. The major ones for this display include:

However, costumes are permitted and encouraged.

Take advantage of it while it’s still here (“Fly, you Fools!”), and safe travels doing so.



Finola McDonald is an intern at Melville House.