Wreaths Returning to The New York Public Library’s Iconic Lions

Beloved holiday tradition returns after nine years on Dec. 5

DECEMBER 5 - The iconic marble lions that guard The New York Public Library’s landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street will be wearing wreaths this holiday season for the first time since 2004.

For decades, the lions – named Patience and Fortitude – wore wreaths at holiday time, but in 2004 the beloved holiday tradition was halted after it was discovered, during a restoration of the lions, that the wreaths and other items that they wore were actually damaging the nearly century-old Tennessee marble.

But the Library has found a way to bring the NYC tradition back.

After consulting with a conservation architect to determine how not to harm the lions, the Library called on American Foliage & Design Group in Chelsea to create special wreaths for the lions that do not harm the marble.

The artificial Norwood Green Spruce wreaths –which weigh 150 pounds each and have five feet openings – are made without any metal (which can corrode and damage the lions) and with a special Marine-grade plywood, which does not soak in water, avoiding potential water damage to the marble. The wreaths will also be treated non-staining weather sealant.

The wreaths will feature red bows made of high-quality, non-staining fabric, and no lights.

“Those of us who grew up in New York always loved seeing the lions wearing wreaths at holiday time,” said NYPL President Tony Marx. “It was like seeing the Rockefeller Christmas Tree or the Lord and Taylor windows. We are so pleased that we found a way to bring that beloved tradition back.”

The wreaths will be placed on the lions on Dec. 5. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building also has a holiday display in historic Astor Hall, including a Christmas tree, a menorah, and historic holiday cards from the Library’s collection.

About The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library is a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 91 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 serves more than 18 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. 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 nypl.org/support.