See 400 years of American History - in one place, in one afternoon. The New-York Historical Society is one of the oldest cultural institutions in the country. It combines timely and substantive special exhibitions with unparalleled museum and library collections for the study of New York and early U.S. history.
The collections span the nation's history from the Revolutionary War to the present, with 40,000 objects ranging from George Washington's camp bed at Valley Forge to the world's largest collection of Tiffany lamps, and manuscripts by U.S. Presidents.
At the New-York Historical Society, we believe that knowing where we came from helps us understand who we are now.
What are the Current Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society?
Superheroes in Gotham
Date: Through February 21, 2016
Superheroes have protected Gotham for nearly a century. Since their introduction in the late 1930s, they have been both powerful role models and a reflection of the times. Flying, caped, or invisible, these larger-than-life characters with superhuman powers (and convincing day jobs) have leaped off the page into popular culture and our daily lives. Superheroes in Gotham traces comic book history’s New York origins to the genre’s contemporary global reach.
Holiday Express: Toys and Trains from the Jerni Collection
Date:Through February 28, 2016
The New-York Historical Society will be transformed this holiday season
with the installation of a spectacular exhibit of treasures from the
renowned Jerni Collection, now owned by the New-York Historical Society,
of model trains, scenic elements and toys. The dynamic display will
appeal to all age groups, showcasing the beauty and allure of toys from a
bygone era.With vibrant and sweeping displays of spectacular antique
trains, toys, and scenic elements, the New-York Historical Society will
be transformed this season for the third annual exhibition, Holiday
Express. Come experience the beauty and allure of a bygone era.
The Triumphal Return of Taddeo Gaddi's Maestà Conserved
Date: Through March 20, 2016
After a two-year absence for conservation at the J. Paul Getty Museum,
the New-York Historical Society's Virgin and Child Enthroned with Ten
Saints: Maesta returns. Painted ca. 1334 by Taddeo Gaddi, the major
disciple of Giotto, the jewel-like panel will take pride of place in a
small focus exhibition highlighting its conservation treatment. Thomas
Jefferson Bryan, an early connoisseur of Italian "primitives," i.e.,
painters before Raphael, bequeathed the Gaddi panel to New-York
Historical in 1867, along with his entire collection. As New York City's
first museum, New-York Historical wrote an early chapter in preserving
the culture of the City, and Bryan played a pioneering role in its
collecting history, amassing works by both European and American
artists. Fittingly, Gaddi's painting will be displayed with a several
other fourteenth- and early-fifteenth-century Italian panels from the
Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York
Date: Through April 17, 2016
Where did the computer revolution begin? Long before Silicon Valley
became synonymous with all things digital, the Big Apple was the hub of
American technology and commerce. Through art, artifacts, and
interactive displays, Silicon City traces the pioneering ideas that
would reshape our daily lives. From the unlikely origins of electricity
and the telegraph to the emergence of satellites, gaming, and the
personal computer, this groundbreaking exhibition explores key
innovations that paved the way for today’s Internet Age and the vital
community of tech companies that now call New York home.
What are Ongoing & Special Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society?
New York & The Nation in the The Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History
Explore the story of New York and America in the newly designed Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History. Highlights include:
Collection Highlights and New York and the American Experience
Mounted on the building's original 1904 columns are grand digital screens displaying a continuous, thematically co-ordinated slide show of treasures from the New-York Historical Society's collections. The west face of the columns features individual stations, incorporating interactive touch screens and museum artifacts, presenting six themes in American history which are found interwoven with the history of New York. Currently, the columns display a series of portraits featuring the model Editta Sherman, which were part of Bill Cunningham's Facades project. The series was shown here at the New-York Historical Society in 1976, in an exhibit entitled Fashions and Façades, under the guidance of curator Mary Black. Projected on dramatic flat screens affixed to six structural columns, the array of objects and images functions as visual signage that demonstrates to our visitors the depth of New-York Historical's collections. Visitors can access images and information about our App.
Liberty/Liberté by Fred Wilson
Upon entering the New-York Historical Society, the visitor encounters Fred Wilson's Liberty/ Liberté, an installation that offers the viewer access to the multiple layers of interpretation of the history and historical figures of the Age of Revolution.
New York Rising
The showpiece of the space occupies a forty-two-foot wall facing Central Park West, and illustrates New York's critical contribution to the founding of the United States. Covering the period from the American Revolution through to the New-York Historical Society's 1804 founding, a contemporary interpretation of a nineteenth-century salon-style display uses some of New-York Historical's most treasured objects and cutting-edge technology to convey the historical narrative.
Out of the ashes of the British occupation of New York and Evacuation Day in November 1783 at the American Revolution's end, New York emerged as the first capital of the United States. It was where George Washington was inaugurated the first president; where the Northwest Ordinance, mandating westward expansion, was debated and signed in 1787; where the essays comprising the Federalist Papers advocating the ratification of the U.S. Constitution were written (by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay); where the First Congress sat in 1789; and where the Bill of Rights was introduced. As the place where Hamilton conceived of an American financial system, New York also became the American business capital of the country. Against the philosophical and intellectual framework of the Enlightenment, the New Yorkers who participated in the country's founding were immersed in an often-fractious atmosphere of debate, intellectual discourse, and political experimentation. In 1804, as this historical moment was passing, the New-York Historical Society was founded, motivated by an expressed need to collect items pertaining to the history of the state and of the nation, as well as the mission to capture and interpret not only the revolutionary and Federal eras, but the years to come. In so doing, New-York Historical deliberately participated in the creation of a self-consciously American culture.
Leah and Michael Weisberg Monumental Treasures Wall
A 10-foot-high display case in the Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History showcases large-scale maps, architectural drawings, documents and other works on paper that previously could not be exhibited because of their size and light sensitivity.
History Under Your Feet
Under visitors' feet, the Smith Gallery also features nine porthole-like floorcases displaying objects found by avocational archaeologists and other professionals seeking history below the ground of New York City. Objects include arrowheads, military buttons, bullets and a colossal oyster shell excavated at an extant nineteenth-century tavern.
here is new york
New-York Historical also displays a rotating selection from the approximately 6,200 photographs comprising the powerful here is new york collection of images taken in New York on and in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. The collection echoes the Founding New Yorkers theme of resilience, renewal and transformation emerging from the ashes of catastrophic events. Accompanying the photography installation will be a large fragment of a fire truck destroyed during the 9/11 attack.
Pop Shop Ceiling by Keith Haring
A ceiling mural by Keith Haring hangs above the admissions desk. The work is taken from the interior of the Pop Shop, which Haring opened in SoHo in 1986 to sell shirts, posters, and other merchandise reproducing his artwork. He painted the shop's entire interior in black-and-white. The mural was a gift from the Keith Haring Foundation upon the store's closing in 2005.
Picasso's Le Tricorne
The New-York Historical Society is proud to unveil our newly acquired and conserved Picasso. Pablo Picasso painted the stage curtain for the two-act ballet The Three-Cornered Hat (“El sombrero de tres picos” or “Le tricorne”). The ballet and curtain were commissioned by the impresario Sergei Diaghilev for his avant-garde, Paris-based Ballets Russes, the most influential ballet company of the twentieth-century. The ballet was choreographed by Léonide Massine with music by the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. It premiered on July 22, 1919, at the Alhambra Theatre in London with sets, costume designs, and the monumental stage curtain created by Picasso. Picasso biographer John Richardson once called “Le Tricorne” the artist’s “supreme theatrical achievement.” The production, which was conceived by Diaghilev and Massine during a trip to Spain, was enhanced by its many Spanish collaborators, including Picasso who also designed the costumes and set for the ballet.
New York Story
You know the city -- now be enthralled by the stories. Witness New
York's rise from remote outpost to city at the center of the world in
this 18-minute panoramic film experience shown on a 75-foot screen in
We were absolutely blown away by the film which manages to convey
more about New York and its history than one could ever imagine being
crammed into 18 minutes.
- Carol Leimas NYC
United States 1933 Double Eagle
On display is one of the most famous and storied coins in the world—the 1933 Double Eagle. The Double Eagle is on display in The Robert H. & Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History. Designed by the renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the coin features the figure of Liberty striding before the Capitol Building on its face and an eagle in flight on the reverse.
In 1933 the United States struck almost a half million twenty-dollar gold coins, commonly known as Double Eagles. At virtually the same time, in one of his first acts as President, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an Executive Order banning the payout of gold, weaning the country off the gold standard. The 1933 Double Eagles, although legally made, became illegal to own and were never circulated. In 1934, two were sent to the Smithsonian Institution for posterity, and in February 1937 the rest were melted into gold bars and sent to Fort Knox—or so it seemed.
In 1944, a 1933 Double Eagle appeared in a New York auction, and the United States Secret Service determined that a U.S. Mint employee had stolen a number of the coins in 1937, and identified ten 1933 Double Eagles that had escaped destruction, of which nine were surrendered or seized. One was beyond reach, as it had been purchased by King Farouk of Egypt, and after 1954 it disappeared. In 1996 a British coin dealer was arrested while trying to sell a 1933 Double Eagle, which he swore had formerly belonged to King Farouk.
In 2002, the coin was sold at auction for $7,590,020, nearly doubling the previous world record. That very coin—the only 1933 Double Eagle which may be legally owned by an individual—will be on display at New-York Historical, on temporary loan from an anonymous private collection.
The Games We Played: American Board and Table Games from the Liman Collection Gift
The Games We Played presents a rotating selection of board and table games from the Liman Collection, an extraordinary collection of more than 500 examples donated to New-York Historical by Ellen Liman in 2000. These games, which entertained families from the 1840s to the 1920s, offer a fascinating window on the values, beliefs and aspirations of middle-class Americans. During the period, families embraced leisure pursuits in the home and encouraged their children to play games that would develop skills and provide moral instruction. At the same time, advances in chromolithography allowed board game manufacturers, like New York City-based McLoughlin Brothers, to produce sumptuous, eye-catching games at affordable prices.
Statues of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass
Date: Through June 1, 2017
The life-size bronze figures of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) and
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) that stand at either entrance to the
New-York Historical Society bring to life the story of freedom that is
deeply embedded in American history and is a primary focus of New-York
Historical's programs. Throughout his candidacy and presidency, Lincoln
emphasized a new birth of freedom for the United States and identified
slavery as a moral and political issue that threatened the nation's
survival. Although Lincoln's home state was Illinois, it was New York
politicians, journalists, and imagemakers who engineered his rise to the
top of the Republican ticket in the 1860 election. His assassination in
1865 united New Yorkers, who turned out en masse to file by the casket
lying in state at City Hall and participate in the funeral procession.
The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture
The Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture on our
fourth floor will be closed for renovations through December 2016.
What are Upcoming Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society
The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems
Date: March 18, 2016-September 25, 2016
Mo Willems’ beloved children’s book characters speak with a distinctly New York accent, from Trixie’s very first Brooklyn "Aggle Flaggle Klabble!" utterance to the Nichols and May-esque comedy duo of Elephant and Piggie to a public transportation-obsessed Pigeon. This spring, the New-York Historical Society presents The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems, an ambling journey across a career that started on Sesame Street and led to a laundromat in Park Slope.
Since the publication of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! in 2003, Willems has amassed an impressive list of New York Times best-selling adventures that have garnered him three Caldecott Honors, two Geisel Medals, five Geisel Honors, and an inaugural spot in the Picture Book Hall of Fame. Previous to his publishing career, Willems won six Emmy Awards for his writing on PBS’s Sesame Street, created the Cartoon Network’s Sheep in the Big City, and was the head writer for Codename: Kids Next Door. He has written two musicals based on his books, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical and Elephant & Piggie’s We Are In a Play!, both commissioned by the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems exhibition brings together original art, sketches, and inspirational drawings from Willem's most popular series, plus stand-alone classics such as Leonardo the Terrible Monster and That is NOT a Good Idea!. It displays the efforts behind the effortlessness, the seriousness behind the silliness, and the desire, as Willems says, “to think of my audience, not for my audience.” His ability to crisply weave together life lessons and humor creates artful volumes that speak to all, regardless of size.
Date: April 11, 2016-July 31, 2016
Anti-Semitism 1919–1939 traces the slow indoctrination of citizens, both non-Jewish and Jewish, through words and images that were seen daily in Germany. Included is Hitler’s original outline of a 1939 speech that he gave to the Reichstag about the “Jewish Question,” announcements of mass meetings dictating the exclusion of Jews, anti-Semitic books and signs, as well as an original printing of the Nuremberg Laws, which laid the legal foundation for Hitler’s Holocaust.
In the wake of recent propaganda and terrorist attacks targeting Jewish communities in Europe and elsewhere, Anti-Semitism 1919–1939 is relevant today. The materials on display, drawn from the collection of the Museum of World War II in Natick, Massachusetts, will convey to visitors, particularly the 200,000 New York City public school students who learn history with New-York Historical each year, the dangers of ignoring or discounting anti-Semitic discourse, as well as of underestimating the role of propaganda in denying racial and religious groups their right to live without fear or threat of violence. The exhibition also speaks to how New York and America’s demographic changed substantially in the wake of European anti-Semitism, underscoring the old adage about the importance of history: how it is impossible to understand who we are today without knowing from where we came.
The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman
Date: May 20, 2016-August 21, 2016
The avant-garde sculptor Elie Nadelman (1882-1946) is widely recognized for his elegant, modernist works. Less familiar is the pioneering folk art collection he established with his wife, an impressive trove of some 15,000 objects that was purchased by the New-York Historical Society in 1937. Influenced by the “peasant arts” of his native Poland and other European countries, Nadelman began collecting after immigrating to New York City in 1914. There he met and married the wealthy and cosmopolitan Viola Spiess Flannery (1878-1962) in 1919, with whom he collected American and European folk art with an all-consuming passion. The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman will celebrate their extraordinary trove with the first major examination of the collection, showcasing more than 200 objects displayed to evoke the couple's groundbreaking Museum of Folk and Peasant Arts in Riverdale, NY. N-YHS’s holdings will be exhibited alongside loans of key Nadelman sculptures to illuminate the intersection between folk art and modernism.
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