Overlooking Central Park at the far end of Museum Mile stands one of the city's finest--and most under-visited--museums. The Museum of the City of New York is charged with an impossible task: telling the story of a 400-year-old city, home to a population equivalent to that of Switzerland and the center of nearly every global industry. The museum trims the epic to manageable sizes and balances the historic with the contemporary and the well-known with the forgotten.
New York has always been going to hell but somehow it never gets there
What You Will See
The Museum, like the city it represents, specializes in almost everything: history, photography, American and Contemporary art, architecture and more. Its vast permanent collection is organized into themed exhibits which are on display for years at a time. While it looks towards history, exhibits are designed to be relevant to contemporary New Yorkers. Temporary exhibits tend towards contemporary issues and New York since the 1920s.
Why You Should Go
Where other cities may take decades or centuries to transform, New York City reinvents itself every few weeks. Whether long-time local or first-time tourist, your experience with the city captures a mere snapshot of this town in its 400-year evolution. The Museum of the City of New York showcases the momentous snapshots, past and present, large and small, that you missed: the Gilded Age, the Depression, the Cultural Revolution, Immigrant New York, Emerging Contemporary Artists. See more of the album at the museum. No matter how well you know New York, you can never know it all. The Museum preserves in photographs, documents, and art how the city has changed--what has been lost and what has been gained. Remind yourself of what the city used to be and get a sense of where it is going.
A great place to start your visit is at Timescapes--a 22 minute video presentation covering the 400-year history of New York.
Take the stairs--all of them. Start with the grand staircase (which you can't miss). But don't miss what the museum calls 'The Most Exciting Staircase in New York.
Bring all the kids, old and young. Admission is free for everyone under 20
I'm a Neighbor - Suggested admission is waived for those living and working in the zip codes 10029, 10035, or 10037
Social Activism is a common topic of exploration at the Museum of the City of New York. This large exhibit explores the history of labor movements in the world's most economically important city. From enslaved labor, through early unionization, into contemporary issues of immigrant employment, the exhibit looks at the lives of workers and management, and the ongoing progress towards equitable compensation and safe working conditions.
Joining several other cultural institutions in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, the museum showcases the photographs taken by Fred McDarrah. McDarrah (whose additional work is featured in a companion exhibit) captured the uprising and the several days of protest that followed.
This permanent installation is impossible to miss upon entering the museum, but should be seen from above, below and while ascending the staircase to truly appreciate it.
Assembled over a 19 year period, this dollhouse is more a miniature museum, containing artwork by some of the greatest artists of the early 20th century.
This exhibits revisits the history of New York City through the social and political movements that have shaped it, from early abolishionist through to modern bicycle and transportation activists and every major social issue in between. Protest songs, pamphlets, flags, and even vandalism form the core of the collection, supplemented by detailed discussions of the issues and their outcomes.
The 400-year history of New York City is told through everyday objects from the collection: oyster shells, subway tokens, bowler hats, flyers, magazines, and tea sets. From Henry Hudson to now and on into the future of New York City--this is the foundation of the museum and merits careful exploration.