From unearthing black-and-white photos of New York Harbor to planting an authentic Victory Garden, New-York Historical Society high school Student Historians paint a vivid picture of World War II-era New York in WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda, a new exhibition on Governors Island.
Installed within a 19th-century home previously used by military officers during World War II and other conflicts, the exhibition prompts visitors to consider a time when virtually every aspect of New York life was transformed to support Allied victory. WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda will be on view with hands-on activities for families on Saturdays and Sundays from July 13 through September 2.
This project is the latest produced by the New-York Historical Society’s Student Historian High School Internship Program, which received a 2012 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award for its effectiveness in developing learning and life skills in young people by engaging them in the arts and humanities. Presented by First Lady Michelle Obama on behalf of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) and other government agencies, the Program was one of 12 after-school and out-of-school programs across the country to receive the Award.
“Prior to working on this exhibit, I did not know the importance of Governors Island to New York City,” said Student Historian Jonathan Brown. “Through our research this year, I learned that the Island was used to not only plan the Normandy Invasions (D-Day), but also to prepare and deliver the last rites of servicemen preparing for battle! Visitors will gain a new respect for New York’s role during the war and more importantly learn to appreciate Governors Island’s unique and important history to the city, country, and larger society.”
High school Student Historians researched and planned the exhibition for over six months with the New-York Historical Society’s Education Division and other departments. After seeing New-York Historical’s World War II fall museum exhibition, Student Historians were presented with the opportunity to curate their own site-specific exhibition based on the history and artifacts they considered important. Student Historians set to work interviewing staff historians and undertaking exhaustive object-based and archival research. The team selected the theme of photography and propaganda based on the historical importance and richness of these materials in the New-York Historical Society Library. Student Historians worked with a designer to brainstorm the exhibition’s layout and how it could be best configured to reach an audience of Governors Island visitors. To complement the exhibition, a Victory Garden has also been planted to recreate an iconic facet of the home front experience during World War II.
“I really enjoyed helping curate this exhibit and giving life to great history and objects beyond the museum itself,” reflected Student Historian Hammie Park. “I am so excited to see this exhibit thrive on Governors Island, a place important to World War II efforts in New York City.”
New-York Historical Society Student Historians and education staff will be on hand to welcome Governors Island visitors and provide tours of WWII & NYC: Photography and Propaganda every weekend through September 2.
The Student Historians High School Internship Program is supported by The New York Life Foundation, The Pinkerton Foundation, and an endowment established by The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.