The New York Public Library’s Beloved Lions, Patience and Fortitude, Wear Masks to Remind New Yorkers to Stay Safe

As the Library system prepares to begin reopening its physical locations on July 13, the lions who guard the 42nd Street library are setting an example (they’re also way more than six feet apart)

Media Contact: Angela Montefinise /

Photos and video available here (credit Jonathan Blanc / NYPL)

JUNE 29, 2020—The New York Public Library’s beloved marble lions Patience and Fortitude are wearing their own lion-sized masks to set an example and remind New Yorkers to stay safe and follow expert guidelines to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The two lion sculptures—who have stood strong in the face of countless historic moments while guarding the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street—received their masks (which are three feet wide and two feet tall) this morning. They arrive as the City continues making progress on reopening, and as the Library system prepares to reopen a limited number of its branches (closed since mid-March) for grab-and-go service on July 13. Masks will be mandatory to enter the branches to pick up or drop off materials.

The New York Public Library serves the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

“Patience and Fortitude are the perfect symbols for the strengths our City and our nation need now even more,” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx. “Like them, New Yorkers are strong and resilient and can weather any storm. We will get to the other side of this public health crisis together. But to do so, we must remain vigilant, we must have patience and fortitude, and we must follow what experts tell us, especially as we continue to reopen our cities. The lions, protectors of knowledge and truth who have seen 109 years worth of history, are setting that example.”

The lions, who celebrated their 109th birthday in May, wear wreaths every December, wore Mets and Yankees caps during the 2000 Subway Series, and wore top hats to celebrate the Library system’s Centennial in 1995. But this is the first time that they have worn masks. The masks—like anything placed on the historic lions—were made with non-eroding material to ensure that they cannot damage the marble.

About The New York Public Library

For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at