Tag Archives: New York Historical Society

Kathleen Hulser: History in 100 Objects

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1853 Singer Sewing Machine

Material culture stormed the British airwaves several seasons back when the BBC broadcast “A History of the World in 100 Objects.” Accompanied by a popular website which actually allows listeners to see images of the objects selected from the world class collections of the British Museum, the series fed an untapped appetite for history in small bites. Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum observed “Telling history through things is what museums are for.” Continue reading

Silver Stories at the New-York Historical Society

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The pharaohs commissioned their pyramids, the wealthy and powerful today emblazon their names on buildings, philanthropies and great estates. But in earlier times in America, a convenient way to stamp your ambitions and achievements in the permanent record was to call on the silversmith.

The silver collection at the New-York Historical Society has taste, ornament, style, luxury, sparkle – and permanence. But it also has some quirky and memorable tales associated with its dazzling objects. The exhibition Stories in Sterling showcases some outstanding pieces, with richly detailed annotations in the accompanying catalog by curators Margaret K. Hofer and Debra Schmidt Bach. Continue reading

N-Y Historical Society Planning WWII & NYC Exhibit

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The most widespread, destructive, and consequential conflict in history will be the subject of WWII & NYC, a major new exhibition planned for the New-York Historical Society from October 5, 2012 through May 27, 2013. The exhibit is expected to feature New York City’s multifaceted role in the war, and commemorate the 800,000 New Yorkers who served in combat while also exploring the many ways in which those who remained on the home front contributed to the war effort. Continue reading

Historic New York Beer Tastings Set in NYC

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To celebrate its summer exhibition Beer Here: Brewing New York’s History, the New-York Historical Society will host a series of beer tastings that showcase the thriving brewing culture in New York City and State.

Beer Here will examine the social, economic, political, and technological history of the production and consumption of beer, ale, and porter in the city from the seventeenth century to the present day. The beer tasting program, run by Starr Restaurants catering group, will take place in the exhibition’s beer hall on most Saturday afternoons from May 26 through August 25, 2012. Continue reading

Lecture: Secret Journeys from Black to White

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In America, race is a riddle. With the widespread availability of DNA testing and the boom in genealogical research, it has become even harder to view race neatly in black or white. Daniel J. Sharfstein, in conversation with Brent Staples, unravels the stories of three families who represent the complexity of race in America and force us to rethink our basic assumptions about who we are at an event on Thursday, April 12, 6:30 PM [note, new date] at The Robert H. Smith Auditorium at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, NYC. Continue reading

New-York Historical Announces Fellowships

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The New-York Historical Society has announced five fellowship recipients for the 2012-2013 academic year. New-York Historical offers fellowships to scholars dedicated to understanding and promoting American history. Basing their work on New-York Historical’s museum and library collections of more than 350,000 books, three million manuscripts, and collections of maps, photographs, prints, art objects and ephemera documenting the history of America from the perspective of New York, these scholars extend and enrich their previous work to develop new publications that illuminate complex issues of the past. Continue reading

John Lewis Gaddis Wins American History Book Prize

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The New-York Historical Society has announced that historian John Lewis Gaddis, recipient of the National Humanities Medal in 2005, will receive New-York Historical’s seventh annual American History Book Prize for George F. Kennan: An American Life (Penguin Press, 2011). He will be presented with a $50,000 cash award, an engraved medal and the title of American Historian Laureate on April 13, 2012, during the Weekend with History event of the New-York Historical’s Chairman’s Council. Continue reading

Camilo José Vergara Exhibit Features Harlem

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Photographs by MacArthur Foundation “genius award” winner Camilo José Vergara, will be on display at the New-York Historical Society in two rotations — Harlem: The People on view through June 10 and Harlem: The Place, from June 13 through September 16. The photographs in both exhibitions, part of the original 2009 exhibition Harlem 1970-2009, explore the effervescent neighborhood of Harlem by showing the transformation of the area over the past 40 years.

The images in Harlem: The People and Harlem: The Place show streetscapes that the photographer visited repeatedly over the course of thirty-eight years, so he could create a composite, time-lapse portrait of a vibrant, world-famous neighborhood seen as a place of ongoing transformation. The series has become a living historical record of Harlem. Vergara has been photographing this vital neighborhood of New York City since 1970, and in doing so he demonstrates, with powerful “before” and “after” images, how one of New York City’s most important neighborhoods has been redefined. As such, Vergara also captures the social and cultural changes in Harlem as he returns to photograph the same street corners and storefronts year after year. He continues to photograph these locations today and writes about his process:

“For a long time I have thought of myself as more a city builder than as a photographer. I think of my images as bricks which when placed next to each other give shape and meaning to a place. I see the images of neighborhoods arranged according to time and location, each one … linking the hundreds of stories that are a place’s history. This is how photographs tell how Harlem evolved and what it gained and lost in the process.”

Selected from the artist’s archive on the Invincible Cities website, the exhibition includes a sequence of photographs showing the evolution of Harlem, its buildings and its people—from the murals that used to condemn racism to advertisements for sports cars, liquor and young rappers; from shops owned by Koreans and West Indians to corporate franchises; from an incubator for struggling churches to famous landmarked churches that attract busloads of visitors from around the world.

All of these historically compelling photographs were donated to the New-York Historical Society by Camilo José Vergara in 2009.

N-Y Historical Black History Month Offerings

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The New-York Historical Society has a number of exhibits and programs planned for Black History Month. All exhibitions are presented at the New-York Historical Society 170 Central Park West, New York, N.Y., unless otherwise noted. Phone (212) 873-3400 or visit www.nyhistory.org for more information.

February 1 through April 1, 2012

The New-York Historical Society displays a rare handwritten copy of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution–the measure that abolished slavery—signed by President Lincoln himself. The document, which was recently acquired by David Rubenstein, managing director of The Carlyle Group, will be on loan to the New-York Historical Society until April 1, in the new Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History.

Until April 29, 2012

This installation of large-scale images by the celebrated photographer Platon, gives the historic struggle of the 1950s and 1960s a stirring contemporary presence. Julian Bond—statesman, professor, writer and a leader in the Civil Rights movement—has written a personal introduction to the exhibition. Among the subjects of the photographs are the Little Rock Nine, whose attempt to enter Little Rock Central High School in 1957 became a national cause célèbre; Joseph A. McNeil and Franklin E. McCain, participants in the 1960 Greensboro lunch-counter sit-in; Southern Christian Leadership Conference members Joseph Lowery, Fred Shuttlesworth, C.T. Vivian and Andrew Young; Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee leaders James Lawson, Robert Moses and Diane Nash; Chris and Maxine McNair, parents of Denise McNair, murdered in the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church; Black Panthers Kathleen Cleaver, Emory Douglas and Bobby Rush; Muhammad Ali; Harry Belafonte; Congressman John Lewis; and Jesse Jackson, Sr.

Until April 15, 2012

The path-breaking exhibition Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn, is the first exhibition to relate the American, French and Haitian struggles as a single global narrative. Spanning decades of enormous political and cultural changes, from the triumph of British imperial power in 1763 to the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, Revolution! traces how an ideal of popular sovereignty, introduced through the American fight for independence, soon sparked more radical calls for a recognition of universal human rights, and set off attacks on both sides of the Atlantic against hereditary privilege and slavery. Texts and audio guides are in English, French and Haitian Krèyol. Highlights on view: the original Stamp Act as it was passed by Parliament in 1765, setting off the riots that led to the American Revolution, on loan from the Parliamentary Archives, London, displayed for the first time outside the U.K. the only known surviving copy of the first printing of the Haitian Declaration of Independence (1804, National Archives, London), recently discovered and exhibited here to the public for the first time.

Napoleon’s authorization to French negotiators to sell the Louisiana Territory to the United States (1803, New-York Historical Society), as a direct consequence of the Haitian rebellion

Thursday, February 16, 6:30 PM
David Levering Lewis, Khalil Gibran Muhammad (moderator)
Location: Robert H. Smith Auditorium at New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West

In this powerful program, two experts reflect on the successes and setbacks in the struggle for civil rights and the changing ways in which the story of the Civil Rights Movement is told, from early writers and activists like W.E.B. DuBois, to the turbulent years of the 1950s and ’60s, to the present. Presented in conjunction with the exhibition Freedom Now: Photographs by Platon. A collaboration with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

President’s Day, Monday February 20, 2012, 1 pm

Award winning artist and author, Maira Kalman, reads from the historical gem Looking at Lincoln. From his boyhood in a log cabin to his famous presidency and untimely death, Kalman shares Lincoln’s remarkable life with young readers. Her charming text and bold artwork make history come alive in a fresh and exciting way.

February 20 – 24, 2012

Show off your presidential history skills at our daily family quiz show; drop in for some art making, or join our presidential history scavenger hunt. Best for ages 4 – 14. No preregistration required. Free with museum admission.

Family Presidential History Quiz, 2 pm

Where did George Washington take his first oath of office? Team up, sharpen your pencils, and enter our family quiz! Prizes for participation and grand prizes for high-scorers.

Presidential Art making, 1 – 4 pm
Make and decorate your own election button or poster.

Join the Hunt! Presidential Scavenger Hunt, 11 am – 4 pm

We don’t know if George Washington had a cat, but we do know he had a cot and we’ve got it! Find amazing memorabilia when we let you loose in the museum looking for everything presidents! Prizes for participation, and everyone can enter our Liberty the Dog raffle!


Sunday, February 5 and February 19, 2012 11 am – 5 pm

As one of the earliest regiments in America to actively enlist African Americans, the 1st Rhode Island Regiment was assembled into service in late 1776 and early 1777. The Regiment fought in the battle of Newport in 1778, spent the infamous winter at Valley Forge, and participated in the Yorktown campaign without receiving any post-war compensation for their efforts. Since 2002, the 1st Rhode Island re-enactors have portrayed the regiment by recreating battles and encampments and presenting programs to audiences in an attempt to educate them about the role of African-Americans in the war effort.

Photo: Platon for The New Yorker, Emmett Tills’ cousins: the Reverend Wheeler Parker, Jr. and Simeon Wright, November 2009. Light jet print. Courtesy of the artist.

New ‘Crossing the Delaware’ on Display Amid Debate

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The New-York Historical Society is displaying Mort Künstler’s “Washington’s Crossing at McKonkey’s Ferry” until January 17, 2012. Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware” commemorates General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River on December 25 in 1776 during the American Revolutionary War. His original painting is part of the permanent collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Mort Künstler, a New York artist known for his historical paintings, has created what he considers a more historically accurate version of Washington crossing the Delaware River. The painting was unveiled at the New-York Historical Society on Monday, December 26, the date in 1776 that Washington led his troops into battle in Trenton after crossing the Delaware.

David Hackett Fischer, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Washington’s Crossing, and featured speaker at the unveiling, says Künstler’s version is “quite accurate” and “got more right than any other image.”

The original painting shows the Betsy Ross flag flying, however that flag was not adopted until 1777; Mr. Künstler’s version has no flag. The original painting depicts the action taking place in the middle of the day, though the actual crossing took place during a stormy night. Based on historical research, the new painting shows Washington and company in a flat-bottomed ferry boat rather than on a row boat.

On that last detail however, there has been some debate. Rick Spilman, writing in the Old Salt Blog, noted:

“The problem is that most historians think that the American crossing of the Delaware used Durham boats, large flat-bottomed boats which hauled cargo such as ore, pig-iron, timber, and produce from upcountry mines, forests and farms down the Delaware River to Philadelphia’s thriving markets and port. Robert Durham, an engineer at the Durham Iron Works in Reiglesville, Pennsylvania, reputedly designed a prototype for these large cargo boats as early as 1757. Washington wrote to Governor Livingston of New Jersey, directing him to secure “Boats and Craft, all along the Delaware side…particularly the Durham Boats” for his anticipated crossing.”

In any event, you’ll have just one day to compare the two paintings first hand. The newly restored Luetze painting will be unveiled in a new frame in the New American Wing Galleries for Paintings, Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum on January 16, the day before the new Künstler painting comes down at the New-York Historical Society.

Illustrations: Above, Mort Künstler’s “Washington’s Crossing at McKonkey’s Ferry”; below, Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 “Washington Crossing the Delaware”.