New York City’s major cultural institutions are
temporarily closed to help minimize the spread of coronavirus, but many are
making their exhibits and programs available virtually, and have websites that
really engage, that make the time spent in enforced hibernation that much
richer and more productive, and frankly, less maddening.
When the Met reopens,
it will offer a series of special exhibits marking its 150th anniversary:The exhibition Making The Met, 1870–2020 will present
more than 250 works of art from the collection while taking visitors on a
journey through the Museum’s history; The reopening of the galleries for
British decorative arts and design will reveal a compelling new curatorial
narrative; Transformative new gifts, cross-cultural installations, and major
international loan exhibitions will be on view throughout the year; and special
programs and outreach will include a birthday commemoration on April 13, a
range of public events June 4–6, and a story-collecting initiative.
galleries may be closed, but never fear! Social media never sleeps.”
Follow @metmuseum on Instagram for Tuesday Trivia, #MetCameos, and daily art
Being confined to home is a perfect time to take advantage of the Museum of Modern Art’s free massive open online course What Is Contemporary Art?, available now on Coursera. This course offers an in-depth look at over 70 works of art from MoMA’s collection—many of which are currently on view in the expanded Museum—from 1980 to the present, with a focus on art produced in the last decade. Learners will hear directly from artists, architects, and designers from around the globe about their creative processes, materials, and inspiration. What Is Contemporary Art? can be found at mo.ma/whatiscontemporaryart.
I can’t wait for MoMA to
reopen so I can see Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures,
the first major solo exhibition at the Museum of the photographer’s incisive
work in over 50 years. The exhibition includes approximately 100 photographs
drawn entirely from the Museum’s collection. Dorothea Lange: Words
& Pictures also uses archival materials such as correspondence,
historical publications, and oral histories, as well as contemporary voices, to
examine the ways in which words inflect our understanding of Lange’s pictures.
These new perspectives and responses from artists, scholars, critics, and
writers, including Julie Ault, Wendy Red Star, and Rebecca Solnit, provide
fresh insight into Lange’s practice. (Scheduled through May 9, 2020).
American Museum of Natural History while closed, the
website is a treasure trove of information and engaging photos and ways to
explore and interact on your own. At the section of its site labeled “Explore” https://www.amnh.org/explore, there are
videos, blogs and OLogy: The Science Website for Kids, where kids of all ages
can play games, do activities, watch videos and meet scientists to learn more
about fossils, the universe, genetics, and more. (Check out https://www.amnh.org/explore/ology/brain)
New-York Historical Society is closed so you will have to wait to experience “Women March,” presidential/election exhibits (take a selfie in Reagan’s Oval Office) and “Bill Graham” (phenomenal and surprising exhibit with fabulous musical accompaniment about this iconic concert impresario). Meanwhile, the N-YHS website offers sensational online exhibitions featuring some of their important past exhibits, including ‘Harry Potter; A History of Magic,” and “the Vietnam War: 1945-1975” and Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion (https://www.nyhistory.org/exhibitions/online-exhibitions). You can also delve into its digital collection, with selections from the N-YHS Museum and Library’s holdings paintings, drawings, photographs, manuscripts, broadsides, maps, and other materials that reveal the depth and breadth of over two centuries of collecting. (http://digitalcollections.nyhistory.org/). (See: Many Pathways to Mark Centennial of Women’s Suffrage)
some outdoor venues are open, as of this writing (the situation has changed
The Brooklyn Botanic Garden remains open to
the public, having implemented stringent cleaning protocols and posted new
signage on-site about best practices in personal hygiene. “We hope that the
Garden might offer you some comfort and beauty even during a particularly
stressful time.” (https://www.bbg.org/visit)
Central Park, Prospect Park and Flushing Meadows may well provide needed respite. However, the Wildlife Conservation Society has temporarily closed the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, Queens Zoo and New York Aquarium, effective Monday, March 16. Check wcs.org for updates.
Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
2017 Women’s March may have been the largest single protest in history, but
women have been marching literally and virtually for 200 years. And for 200
years, the march, the campaign for women’s rights has been shorthand for
voting, education, health care, equal pay, workers rights, civil rights,
environmental justice, gun safety. Yes, there was that period when temperance
was a priority, as well. But it has only been in the 1970s, that Feminism – the
fight for women’s equality – took hold, and with it, the fight for the
essential right: reproductive freedom.
new exhibit at the New-York Historical Society simply
called “Women March” (part of The Women’s Suffrage NYC Centennial
Consortium, www.WomensSuffrageNYC.org) traces
this long arc which has not always moved toward justice or equality. Indeed,
progress, on just about every front, has been in brief spurts of enlightenment.
In reality, that long arc is more zig-zags and a maze with brick walls to block
the beginning, women directed their activism to abolition of slavery, labor
rights, working conditions and pay equity, civil rights, health, education,
property rights, custody, rights for Native Americans – issues regarded as “moral imperative.”
“Women seized on the notion that women had a moral power, beyond home, a moral imperative to effect public policy,” said Jeanne Gardner Gutierrez, curatorial scholar in women’s history at the New-York Historical Society.
Without the right to vote, they took
advantage of the Constitution’s right to petition Congress – until Congress
said they would ignore any anti-slavery petition.
“It was infuriating. The one right
available to women, guaranteed by Constitution, swept away. They realized that
moral suasion has limits.”
rights was not at the core of the women’s activism, which was hardly a movement
then. Even at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the women leaders – mainly
Quaker women who already had a measure of equality within their religious
society – had to be persuaded (by
Frederick Douglass) to include the right to vote among their demands, enunciated in the Declaration of Sentiments, that
mimicked the Declaration of Independence. Their demands centered on equal pay
and rights to own property and have control of one’s own earnings, a growing
issue for women who were being employed in factories and for the first time
earning their own wage. Many women did not sign on. It may surprise many to
learn (as I did when visiting the Roosevelt historic site at Hyde Park) that
Eleanor Roosevelt was not an early supporter of suffrage.
the Civil War – as in the Revolutionary War and later World War II – women took
on roles that had been reserved for men: they managed their farms and
businesses while husbands and fathers were off fighting, they were nurses, and
organized fundraisers showing they could manage large financial projects (Sanitary Fair raised $1 million for union, the treasurer was
After the Civil War, there was a
great debate over whether women should seek the vote, whether under the 15th
amendment which said that men could not be denied the right
to vote simply based on their race,
voting should be a right of citizenship. Women were considered citizens, but
the Supreme Court found that citizenship did not automatically bestow voting
But a section of the exhibit labeled “Go West Young Woman” notes that in the Western territories, women did have right to vote (and apparently, women had the right to vote briefly in New Jersey, from 1776 to 1807 when the vote was restricted to white men. (See:On the Trail of America’s First Women to Vote)
those who think that Hillary Rodham Clinton was the first woman to run for
president (she was the first to run as a major party candidate) might be
surprised to learn that even before women won the right to vote, Victoria
Woodhull was the first woman to run for president as the Equal Rights Party
candidate in 1871. “Despite questions about eligibility to vote, women, she
reasoned, still could run for political office,” the notes read. Lawyer Belva
Lockwood, the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court, followed in 1884
and 1888 on the National Equal Rights Party
ticket and was the first woman to appear on
official ballots, endorsing equal rights, temperance, civil service
reform and citizenship for Native Americans; she won some 4,000 votes.
at a certain turning point, the women’s movement realized that moral suasion
wasn’t going to effect real change; the key to getting any of the changes and
rights they wanted was the right to vote.
used the latest techniques and technology to build support. Film was new in
1915, and a newsreel agency, Universal Animated Weekly, captured a 1915 strike
for workers rights (we get to see the film on a screen almost life-sized). The
films were distributed and shown in nickelodeons (small movie houses), and were an inexpensive
way to reach working-class people.
only in the 1960s-1970s, it seems, that women’s rights became equated with
reproductive rights, or more precisely, abortion, and coming almost
simultaneously with The Pill and sexual freedom that broke down gender
barriers. The threat to male domination became much starker – uprooting the
concept of women in the home, being consumers of appliances and cosmetics,
caring for children while men held the economic reins. Women could be fired for
becoming pregnant, could be paid a fraction of the same wage, and relegated
into specific jobs. Check out the classified job listing in the 1970s, and you
will see “male” and “female” listings.
really only comes to play in the 1980s, when the right to control one’s own
body, make one’s own choices, have the same right as men to self-determination,
takes hold. The outrage at women as
property, chattel, of objectification comes into focus.
you see a display with the first issue of Ms. Magazine, an organizing force
which reinforced women’s yearning for equal status.
in the earliest stages of activism, women’s issues were those that were
considered the “moral imperative” – abolition, workers rights – now it boiled
down to self, individual rights, but exploded back up again: women’s rights are
for others, feminism boiled down to one word: abortion.
Magazine publishes an amazing call to sign on to “a campaign for honesty and
freedom” along with a long list of 53 famous women who declared, “We have had
abortions” On the list: Gloria Steinem, Nora Ephron, Judy Collins, Susan
Sontag, Lillian Hellman, Lee Grant, Gael Greene, Billie Jean King.
exhibit follows to the 2017 Women’s March, with some of the posters.
just to emphasize the importance of Women’s Suffrage, just outside the exit
door is a computer where you can check on your voter registration.
For as long as there has been a
United States, women have organized to shape the nation’s politics and secure
their rights as citizens. Their collective action has taken many forms, from
abolitionist petitions to industry-wide garment strikes to massive marches for
an Equal Rights Amendment. Women March celebrates the
centennial of the 19th Amendment—which granted women the right to vote in
1920—as it explores the efforts of a diverse array of women to expand American
democracy in the centuries before and after the suffrage victory.
On view in the Joyce B. Cowin
Women’s History Gallery, Women March is curated by Valerie
Paley, the director of the Center for Women’s History and New-York Historical
senior vice president and chief historian, with the Center for Women’s History
curatorial team. The immersive exhibition features imagery and video footage of
women’s collective action over time, drawing visitors into a visceral
engagement with the struggles that have endured into the 21st century.
The exhibition begins with the many
ways women asserted political influence long before they even demanded the
vote. Objects and images demonstrate how they risked criticism for speaking
against slavery, signed petitions against Indian Removal, raised millions to
support the Civil War, and protested reduced wages and longer days. A riveting
recreation of an 1866 speech by African American suffragist and activist
Frances Harper demonstrates the powerful debates at women’s rights conventions.
Absence of the vote hardly prevented women from running for political office:
one engaging item on display is a campaign ribbon for Belva Lockwood, the first
woman to argue before the Supreme Court, who won around 4,000 votes in her own
Multiple perspectives on the vote,
including African American and working-class activism, are explored, upending
popular assumptions that suffragists were a homogenous group. The 19th
Amendment is hailed as a crucial step forward, but recognized as an incomplete
victory. One photograph shows an African American women’s voter group in
Georgia circa 1920, formed despite wide disenfranchisement, and another shows
women of the League of Women Voters who sought to make suffragists’ goals real
with legislation that addressed issues such as public health and child welfare.
A digital interactive monitor invites visitors to explore the nuances of voting
laws concerning women across the entire United States.
Offering an examination of women’s
activism in the century after the Amendment, the exhibition concludes by
showing how women engaged with issues such as safe workplaces, civil rights,
reproductive justice, and freedom from violence. Photographs and video footage
of women building warships, boycotting segregation, urging voters to register,
and marching for the Equal Rights Amendment convey the urgency of their desire
for full citizenship. The dynamism of women’s collective action continues to
the present day with handmade signs from the 2017 Women’s Marches and footage
of a variety of marches and speeches on topics ranging from reproductive
justice to indigenous peoples’ rights to climate change. Visitors can also
learn about many individuals who have been instrumental in women’s activism
over the past 200 years in an interactive display compiled by New-York
Historical’s Teen Leaders program. Meanwhile, young visitors can explore the
exhibition with a special family guide.
on view through August 30, 2020, is one of four major special exhibitions
mounted by the New-York Historical Society that
address the cornerstones of citizenship and American democracy.
the Presidentswhich opened on President’s Weekend, is where you can
discover how the role of the president has evolved since George Washington with
a re-creation of the White House Oval Office, decorated “thread by thread”
exactly as it was during Ronald Reagan’s tenure, and a new gallery devoted to
the powers of the presidency.
Colonists, Citizens, Constitutions: Creating the American
Republic explores the important roles
state constitutions have played in the history of our country.
The People Count: The Census in the Making of Americadocuments
the critical role played by the U.S. Census in the 19th century—just in time
for the 2020 Census.
To encourage first-time voters to
learn about our nation’s history and civic as they get ready to vote in the
presidential election, New-York Historical Society offers free admission to the
exhibitions above to college students with ID through 2020, an initiative
supported, in part, by History®. This special program allows college students to
access New-York Historical’s roster of upcoming exhibitions that explore the
pillars of American democracy as they prepare to vote, most of them for the
“The year 2020 is a momentous time
for both the past and future of American politics, as the centennial of the
19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote, coincides with both a
presidential election and a census year,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and
CEO of New-York Historical. “This suite of complementary exhibitions showcases
the ideas and infrastructure behind our American institutions that establish
and protect our fundamental rights to make our voices heard and opinions count.
We hope that all visitors will come away with a wider understanding of the
important role each citizen plays in our democracy.”
New-York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West at Richard
Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024, 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org.
The Women’s Suffrage NYC Centennial
One hundred years ago, women earned
the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th amendment. To honor their
fight and commemorate this moment in history, a collective of New York City
cultural organizations has formed the Women’s Suffrage NYC Centennial
The Women’s Suffrage NYC Centennial
Consortium is a collaboration of cultural
organizations citywide that foregrounds exhibitions and programs that,
together, offer a multi-dimensional picture of the history of women’s suffrage
and its lasting, ongoing impact. The consortium has launched www.WomensSuffrageNYC.org to highlight the activities being presented across New
York City throughout 2020.
Founding members are the New-York
Historical Society, the Staten Island Museum, the New York Philharmonic, The
New York Public Library, Brooklyn Historical Society, the Museum of the City of
New York, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Brooklyn
Museum, Park Avenue Armory, and Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical
Announced programming includes the
exhibition Women March at the New-York Historical
Society, which explores the efforts of a
wide range of women to expand American democracy in the centuries before and
after the suffrage victory (February 28 – August 30); Women
of the Nation Arise! Staten Islanders in the Fight for Women’s Right to Vote at
the Staten Island Museum, which presents the remarkable stories of local
suffragists acting on the grassroots level to create the momentum necessary for
regional and national change and the bold tactics they employed to win the vote
(March 7 – December 30); the New York Philharmonic’s Project 19—a
multi-season initiative to commission and premiere 19 new works by 19 women
composers, the largest women-only commissioning initiative in history, which
launched earlier this month and continues in the spring (May – June) and
beyond; and 100 Years | 100 Women a partnership of Park
Avenue Armory with National Black Theatre and nine other cultural institutions in
New York City to commission work exploring the complex legacy of the 19th
Amendment 100 years after its ratification from 100 artists who identify as
women or gender non-binary (showcase of commissions on May 16).
The consortium is committed to
showcasing women’s contributions to the past, present, and future. Though many
women were given access to the right to vote 100 years ago, the fight for
equality continues. Their goal is to expand the conversation through meaningful
cultural experiences that convey that all women should be seen, heard, and
The Women’s Suffrage NYC Centennial
Consortium is co-chaired by Janice Monger, president & CEO of the Staten
Island Museum, and Valerie Paley, director of the Center for Women’s History
and senior vice president and chief historian at the New-York Historical
Society, to bring together a group of vital New York City cultural
organizations with a shared vision to honor the Women’s Suffrage Centennial.
“We are so proud to bring together
this collective of organizations and colleagues who share the vision that
women’s stories are important and need to be told. All of these activities
represent multi-faceted, nuanced cultural and historical insights into the
early 20th century movement and equality in progress today,” said Janice
Monger, consortium co-chair and Staten Island Museum president & CEO.
“In an effort that was many decades
in the making, a century ago, women came together to fight for and win the
right to vote. While that right was not fully and immediately extended to all
women, their continued collective action galvanized movements to expand and
give substantive meaning to American democracy after the suffrage victory,”
said Valerie Paley, consortium co-chair and senior vice president and chief
historian at the New-York Historical Society, where she directs the Center for
Women’s History. “Through these cultural experiences across New York City, we
hope New Yorkers and visitors alike will be inspired by the women who made
history and the women who are making history now,” she added.
The Women’s Suffrage NYC Centennial
Consortium will continue to grow as new programs and exhibitions are announced
during the year.
the National Trust for Historic
is compiling a catalog of 1000 sites associated with women of accomplishment and
is more than halfway to the goal of
identifying places Where Women Made History
and is inviting people to submit entries (go to the site to submit a photo and
year the United States commemorates the 100th anniversary of women gaining the
right to vote, providing an important opportunity to celebrate the place of
women in American history. While history, of course, is complicated, and voting
rights for many women continued to be denied because of discriminatory
practices, we at the National Trust want to tell the full history—to uncover
and uplift women across the centuries whose vision, passion, and determination
have shaped the country we are today. Our goal: discover 1,000 places connected
to women’s history, and elevate their stories for everyone to learn and
to do this, we need your help. What places have you encountered where women
made history? They can be famous or unknown, protected or threatened, existing
or lost. No matter their condition or status, these places matter, and we
encourage you to share them with the world.
a place you’d like to share? Submit a photo and a short description.”
checking the listings in New York State, I see already listed is Grange Hall, Waterloo,
NY, associated with Belva Ann Lockwood; Harriet Tubman House and Gravesite,
Auburn, NY; the former Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, New York City, “Little
Nellie,” Newspaper Editress, Penfield, NY; Alice Austen House, Staten Island;
and Matilda Joslyn Gage Center for Social Justice Dialogue, Fayetteville, NY.
From its founding in the 1930s to the end of weekly publication in the 1970s, LIFE Magazine elevated and showcased photojournalism. Instead of just being the acoutrement to reporting, the photos were the story, or as Henry R. Luce saw it, the photojournalist as essayist.
that time, only six out of 101 full-time LIFE
photographers were women. Now, for the first time, these women – who contributed
so much to the evolution of photojournalism as well as the cultural and
societal trends they spotlighted – are
featured in their own exhibit, LIFE: Six Women Photographers, at the New-York
Historical Society through October 6, 2019.
“For the editors of LIFE—the first magazine to tell stories with photographs rather than text—the camera was not merely a reporter, but also a potent commentator with the power to frame news and events for a popular audience. For decades, Americans saw the world through the lens of the magazine’s photographers. Between the late 1930s and the early 1970s, LIFE magazine retained only six women photographers as full-time staff or on a semi-permanent basis. LIFE: Six Women Photographers showcases the work of some of those women and how their work contributed to LIFE’s pursuit of American identity through photojournalism,” the curators write. The exhibition features more than 70 images showcasing the extraordinary work created by Margaret Bourke-White, Hansel Mieth, Marie Hansen, Martha Holmes, Nina Leen, and Lisa Larsen.
How were these women part of a larger editorial vision? What topics did
they cover, and how did their work reflect—and sometimes expand—the mission of
the magazine? The exhibit reveals these photographers’ important role in
creating modern photojournalism and defining what LIFE editor-in-chief Henry Luce called the
“American Century.” The level of influence that LIFE Magazine wielded was
considerable – at its height, one out of every three Americans read the
magazine each month.
We learn that of the six, three were immigrants of whom two fled Fascist
Europe. In all, they produced 3,000 stories, 325,000 images that curator Sarah
Gordon, curatorial scholar in women’s history at NYHS’ Center for Women’s
History, and Marilyn Satin Kushner, curator and head, Department of
Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, combed through to select
out the 70 images featured in the exhibit. The exhibit, interestingly,
highlights not only the photos that were selected for publication, but photos
out of the series that were not, as well as the contact sheets. There are also
displays with the magazine opened to the page, and notes from the
Asked how the six featured stories were selected out of the
photographers’ 3,000, Kushner reflects, “We thought about what we wanted to
show and say – that kept me up at night, how to tie as a thread. The first
thought was to show a woman’s point of view, but then we don’t know how a man
would have treated the same subject. What the women did was illustrate Luce’s
idea, that the photos [depict] the American story.”
Yet, except for Margaret Bourke-White’s famous series on the Fort Peck Dam – illustrative of her talent to show Industrial America and technological progress – the photo essays selected for this exhibit predominantly show women and women’s issues – wrestling with their place in society after World War II’s independence, the WACS. And even when there is a story, like the Dam, Bourke-White and others showed a great sensitivity to how ordinary people – families – lived. Bourke-White chose to show shantytowns that developed around the dam, and what Saturday night dancehall was like.
Her telegram to her editor reads, “Swell subjects especially shanty
towns. Getting good nightlife. Nobody camera shy except ladies of evening but hope conquer them
also…. May I give one picture FortPeck Publishing booklet for local sale. Would
help repay their many courtesies. Could choose pattern picture we probably wouldn’t
How did they get their assignments? “Sometimes the women wrote and
asked for an assignment, but usually were told to ‘do that’” Kushner tells me. Luce
wanted LIFE Magazine to reflect the American Century, and while Bourke-White
documented steel mills and dams – America’s technology and industrial
achievements – she also depicted new towns in the middle of no where, “FDR’s
New Wild West.”
Standing in front of one of the most controversial and substantial
photos in the exhibition – Martha Holmes’ 1949 image of singer Billy Eckstine being embraced
by a white female fan, surrounded by
other gleeful white teenagers – I meet Holmes’
daughter, Anne Holmes Waxman, and granddaughter of the photographer, Martha
Holmes., Eva Koshel Castleton.
“My mother came on when a lot of men were in the war. Born in
Louisville, Kentucky, she was working as a photographer at the Courier-Journal
when Life Magazine came to recruit her to come to New York. “She was shaking in
her boots, just 24 years old. She never went back.”
The exhibit shows the contact sheet with other images of multiracial crowds waiting for tickets and autographs, but the editors chose to publish the more controversial image. They were so concerned that they sought permission from Luce, who agreed with Holmes that the photograph reflected social progress and was appropriate for the story. “Holmes felt the photo was one of her best, claiming ‘it told just what the world should be like.’ The magazine, however, received vicious letters in response and the fallout adversely affected Eckstine’s career.”
In the weekly report of letters received for April 24 issue, “Fifty-nine readers are very much upset. ‘That picture of Billy Eckstine with a white girl clinging to him after a performance just turns my stomach. Why a teen-age white girl conducts herself in this manner over a Negro crooner is beyond me. Juvenile delinquency is bad enough in our own race without mixing it up with another.” “The most nauseating picture of the year.” “That picture qualifies as the most indecent picture ever published by LIFE.” “ That picture should have appeared in Pravda Your publication of it leads me to believe that Mr. Chambers was not the only Communist on your staff.” Eight readers cancelled their subscriptions, but nine praised the feature.
(What I notice in the magazine that is featured in the display is the
ad for new Coty eye cosmetics . “Eyes of natural glamour. Newest style in
I ask her daughter Anne whether her mother got or lost certain
assignments because of being a woman. She related that the only assignment her
mother turned down was when, she was 8 ½ months pregnant with her, in 1956, and
had to refuse an assignment to photograph Elvis Presley. “It was the one job
she couldn’t take.” But she is renowned for her photos of artist Jackson
Pollack and the House on UnAmerican Activities hearings.
A very interesting series, “The American Woman’s Dilemma” by Nina Leen, published in the July 16, 1947 issue, danced around the issue of “how are you going to get them back on the farm, after they’ve seen Par-ee” – in this case, women who worked traditionally male jobs and had independence during the war, now being shoved back into housework and child-rearing rather than pursue a career. “The essay also reflected cultural anxieties about a ‘return to normalcy’ after the Depression and war. LIFE assumed that all women desired marriage and children but voiced concern that a woman’s time was so stretched, she did not have time to pursue her husband’s interests.
“The article barely acknowledged that many women had no choice but to
find work. It did recognize women’s struggles with child care buit disparaged
separation as creating insecure children.” Only one of Leen’s photos of an unmarried
woman made the cut. “This article represented a clear attempt at setting out
women’s choices in the post-war era of societal realignment.” (The article is
opposite an ad for Singer sewing machines; LIFE Magazine clearly had an
investment in women as homemakers, wanting the latest appliances.)
is represented by her feature on “International Ladies’ Garment Workers: How a
Great Union Works Inside and Out” (August 1, 1938). She worked as a migrant
worker in California when she first emigrated to the US from Germany, and
photographed fellow migrant workers in San Francisco, the city’s neighborhoods
and cultural enclaves before LIFE hired her in 1937, publishing her socially
engaged photo essays over the next seven years.
I am left to wonder to what extent were the projects reshaped by a woman’s perspective, or how much the women photographers were directed to focus on “women’s subjects”. Even Lisa Larsen’s feature, “Tito as Soviet Hero, How Times Have Changed!” (from June 25, 1956) featured a spread, “Wives Materialize to Greet a Visitor.” We would have to see many more examples of the photographers’ assignments to make that appraisal, and hope these topics will be revealed in future exhibits NY-HS’ Women’s Center.
Based on this cursory examination, it seems Luce wasn’t being progressive in having women photographers for their point of view. He was realizing that women were the market for advertisers. And they were used to socialize women back to their pre-World War II prescribed roles – as homemakers and consumers.
The exhibit is curated by Sarah Gordon, curatorial scholar in women’s history, Center for Women’s History, and Marilyn Satin Kushner, curator and head, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections; with Erin Levitsky, Ryerson University; and William J. Simmons, Andrew Mellon Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Center for Women’s History.
NYHS brilliantly uses its space to maximize an immersion into Women’s
History. Just outside the Women Photographers of LIFE Magazine exhibit is Women’s Voices, a multimedia digital installation
where visitors can discover the hidden connections among exceptional and
unknown women who left their mark on New York and the nation, even going back
to Colonial America. Featuring interviews, profiles, and biographies, Women’s Voices unfolds across
nine oversized touchscreens to tell the story of activists, scientists,
performers, athletic champions, social change advocates, writers, and educators
through video, audio, music, text, and images.
Among the many fascinating profiles featured in Women’s Voices are those of
the first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor; Nobel Prize-winning
scientist Barbara McClintock; civil rights activist and poet Audre Lorde; the
first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S., Elizabeth Blackwell;
award-winning actress Meryl Streep; Brooklyn-born opera star Beverly Sills;
Seneca leader and artisan Caroline Parker Mountpleasant; trailblazing dancer
and principal ballerina Misty Copeland; the Manhattan Project physicist who was
snubbed by the Nobel Prize committee, Chien-Shiung Wu; Gilded Age novelist
Edith Wharton; and the teacher whose 1854 lawsuit helped desegregate public
transit in New York, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, among others.
are also displays about the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU),
Women’s Activism and Billie Jean King. And in the middle of the floor is a most
sensational gallery devoted to Tiffany, which includes a fascinating display
about Clara Driscoll, who headed the
Women’s Glass Cutting Department of some 45-55 young women (mainly 16-17
year olds who would work until they went off to be engaged). And who until this
exhibit was unheralded for her role in creating many of Tiffany’s iconic designs.
Revolutionary Summer at New-York Historical Society
Also on view:
The New-York Historical Society, the oldest museum in New York, celebrates Revolutionary Summer, a Museum-wide exploration of Revolutionary War times, Revolutionary Summerpresents outdoor events every weekend featuring characters from the era; 18th-century art and artifacts; a diorama of the Continental Army; and a host of programs for all ages, including trivia nights, a DJ evening, and a Revolutionary Drag Tea Party. On select weekends, visitors can explore a replica of George Washington’s Headquarters Tent at an outdoor Continental Army encampment, meet Living Historians portraying soldiers and spies, and learn about the many facets of camp life during the War for Independence.
so excited to welcome visitors to New-York Historical this summer with a full
line-up of fun ways to experience the Revolutionary era,” said Dr. Louise
Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “Revolutionary
Summer celebrates the outstanding, revolutionary times that
ignited the birth of our country with everything from a scavenger hunt to the
chance to meet George Washington.”
The centerpiece of Revolutionary Summer is
a replica of George Washington’s Headquarters Tent, on display in New-York
Historical’s outdoor courtyard on select weekends. The original Tent is on
display at the Museum of the American Revolution (MoAR) in Philadelphia. Often
called the “first Oval Office,” the Headquarters Tent was where Washington and
his most trusted staff plotted the strategy that ultimately won the
Revolutionary War. On loan from MoAR, this painstakingly detailed, hand-sewn
replica—made of custom woven linen and wool fabrics—was created as part of a
collaboration between MoAR and Colonial Williamsburg. The Tent is staffed by MoAR
educators, who lead visitors on an immersive tour through history. (On view July
4–7, 26–28, August
16–18, 23–25, September
A host of special installations and artifacts are on view at New-York
Historical as part of Revolutionary Summer. One of the
highlights is a recently discovered watercolor painting of the 1782 Continental
Army encampment at Verplanck’s Point, New York—the only known eyewitness image
of Washington’s Headquarters Tent during the Revolutionary War—on loan from
MoAR. Other highlights include a camp cot used by Washington at Valley Forge
during the winter of 1777; John Trumbull’s iconic painting of Washington that
he gave to Martha Washington in 1790; and a pipe tomahawk gifted by Washington
to Seneca Chief Sagoyewatha. Also on display is a diorama depicting the
Verplanck’s Point encampment and the Hudson River shoreline, providing visitors
with a 360-degree view of the scope and scale of Washington’s forces.
Revolutionary Summer also showcases historic documents
from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, including an original
1823 William J. Stone facsimile of the Declaration of Independence; a broadside
from King George III announcing the armistice and officially ending the war;
and a letter by Martha Washington detailing domestic life in the aftermath of
Independence Day Celebration: Celebrate the Fourth of July
exploring George Washington’s encampment! Enter his Headquarters Tent, meet the
man himself, and experience where the future first president strategized,
dined, and slept while MoAR staff describe his daily life. Also on tap:
singalongs with the Hudson River Ramblers; fife and drum corps music; a
one-woman play about Deborah Sampson, the woman who disguised her gender to
enlist in the Continental Army; family-friendly food for purchase; and Living
Historians portraying soldiers from the Continental Army, as well as John
Adams, who’ll read the Declaration of Independence. Free Admission for
kids age 17 and under
And this fall, the New-York Historical Society explores the life and accomplishments of Paul Revere (1734–1818), the Revolutionary War patriot immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1860 poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.” On view September 6, 2019 – January 12, 2020, Beyond Midnight: Paul Revere separates fact from fiction, revealing Revere as a complex, multifaceted figure at the intersection of America’s social, economic, artistic, and political life in Revolutionary War-era Boston as it re-examines his life as an artisan, activist and entrepreneur. The exhibition, featuring more than 140 objects, highlights aspects of Revere’s versatile career as an artisan, including engravings, such as his well-known depiction of the Boston Massacre; glimmering silver tea services made for prominent clients; everyday objects such as thimbles, tankards, and teapots; and important public commissions, such as a bronze courthouse bell.
at the New-York Historical Society are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and
Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the New York City
Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts with
the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (77th Street), New York, NY 10024, 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org.
This spring, the New-York Historical
Society presents Hudson Rising, a unique exhibition that explores
200 years of ecological change and environmental activism along “the most
interesting river in America” through artifacts, media, and celebrated Hudson
River School paintings.
On view March 1 – August 4, Hudson
Rising reflects on how human activity has impacted the river and, in
turn, how the river environment has shaped industrial development, commerce,
tourism, and environmental awareness. The exhibition also explores how experts
in various fields are currently creating ways to restore and re-engineer areas
of the river in response to climate change.
Indeed, we tend to think of the environmental movement as
originating with Yellowstone and the national parks, but it is fascinating to
realize that the beginning of environmental activism – and the techniques –
began here. Citizens rallied to oppose the construction of a Con Ed plant on
Storm King Mountain; one of the new organizations, Scenic Hudson, sued; the
case, in 1965 set a precedent beyond the Hudson, establishing that citizens
have standing to sue on behalf of conservation, even when they do not have a
direct economic interest, that beauty
and history also merit protection – the forerunner of the Environmental
Protection Act. Later, a “viewshed,” modeled on the concept of a watershed, in
connection with landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church’s Olana, also warranted
The Hudson River raised consciousness of the importance of
environmental protection. the exhibit opens with paintings from Thomas Cole,
the founder of the Hudson River School art movement (America’s first
native-grown art movement), who worried even then about the encroachment of
development. His paintings depict an idyllic landscape, but also the
destruction of the forest to lumbering.
Much more than a body of water, the Hudson
and its surroundings have been the home for humans and hundreds of species of
fish, birds, and plants; offered an escape for city-dwellers; and witnessed
battles over the uses of the river valley and its resources. For over 200
years, writers and artists have captured the river in paintings, drawings,
literature, and photographs, and surveyors and scientists have mapped and
measured its every parcel.
has always encapsulated the tension between development and conservation. But
it was more than about aesthetics, and the need for urbanites to be able to
seek respite in the countryside: an early environmental scientist realized that
logging in the Adirondacks, which was discovered to be the source of the
Hudson, was jeopardizing the watershed supplying New York City.
Scientists at the same time discovered the critical link between
forests and the health of rivers. They realized the Adirondack forest supported
the Hudson River and aquatic animals. That begins the movement to save the
Adirondacks, including the forests. Ultimately, it leads to New York State’s
“Forever Wild” amendment to the state constitution, in 1894.
“This path-breaking exhibition explores
ideas about the environment that developed in the context of the Hudson,
examining how we became aware, as New Yorkers and as Americans, of the role
that humans played in the river’s ecological degradation,” said Dr. Louise
Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical. “The exhibit also looks at
the strategies we devised to address it. Spanning the entire industrial
era, Hudson Rising presents a compelling account of how the
Hudson has been an incubator for our ideas about the environment and our
relationships to the natural world for two centuries-plus.”
Indeed, we learn that Theodore Roosevelt,
before creating the first national park as president, innovated environmental
protection as Governor of New York State, working with New Jersey, to protect
the Palisades as a “park for the people” (hugely popular with immigrants who
crammed into cities, the park had 2 million visitors in 1920, many who came by
a free ferry); similarly Franklin Roosevelt, when he was New York State
governor, created what would become the New Deal Civilian Conservation Corps
when he was president.
Curated by Marci Reaven, New-York Historical’s vice president of history exhibitions, and Jeanne Haffner, associate curator, Hudson Rising begins with a prelude featuring artist Thomas Cole’s panoramic five-part Course of Empire series (1834-36), a treasure of New-York Historical’s collection that depicts the transformation of a pristine landscape into a thriving city, then its dramatic decline, and the fall of civilization.
Cole railed against “human hubris” and the exploitation of nature. “The ranges of the ax are daily and increasing,” Cole said. “Nature has spread for us a rich and delightful banquet. Shall we turn from it?” he wrote in his “Essay on American Scenery” (1836). Cole’s poetic questioning of the social costs of what was seen in his time as progress, serves as a prelude to the exhibition narrative, which begins with the industrial age and continues into the present day. The Hudson River, we learn, was the incubator for the environmental movement.
The exhibition is organized chronologically
and geographically into five sections that highlight significant places and
events in the environmental history of the river: Journeys Upriver:
The 1800s, The Adirondacks: 1870s-1890s, The Palisades: 1890s-1950s, The Hudson
Highlands: 1960s-1980s, and A Rising Tide: Today.
The exhibit is designed to meander, like the river itself, and uses actual artifacts – there is even the smell of freshly cut wood from the Adirondacks – that bring you, as much as possible to the Hudson: bricks from Haberstraw; rocks from the Palisades; iron from Cold Spring Foundry across from West Point; wood from Catskills; hemlock (used for tanning), even a fish tank with striped bath (blue eels will be added later). “The layout is a metaphor for the river,” said Ken Nintzel, the designer.
There are historical maps – one of the most impressive is a panorama map from 1847 that stretches the length of a wall, that tourists would use, “one of the great maps of American history”- photos, paintings, news clips that trace the battle to reclaim the Hudson from industrial pollution. A map from 1890s shows how the Hudson was “redesigned” to make it more navigable for shipping, changing the way the river ran, but in the process, did away with the shallows that hosted aquatic life and mitigated flooding. Another map documents how plentiful oysters used to be – New York city used to be the primary exporter of oysters and clams – until sewage in the Hudson killed off the oysters.
The painting by Thomas Cole of the Catskill Mountain House reminds
that American tourism began here in the Hudson – today, you can hike up to
where the hotel used to be and gaze out over the Hudson.
exhibits surround you, and there are various interactive elements.
Journeys Upriver: The 1800s starts with a steamboat journey up the Hudson River from
the New York City harbor to Albany, inspired by one of the great tourist guides
of Hudson River history, the Panorama of the Hudson (1847).
The detailed rendering of the river landscape led steamboat and armchair
travelers from New York City to the last navigable point of the river near
Troy, pointing out natural wonders, Hudson Valley industries, notable
individuals, and Revolutionary War sites along the way. Also on view are
paintings, industrial objects, and an important Army Corps of Engineers map
that shows how the Corps engineered the river to be a more navigable and
predictable shipping channel. Hudson River School art on display include Robert
Havell Jr.’s View of Hudson River from near Sing Sing, New York (ca.
1850) and George Henry Boughton’s Hudson River Valley from Fort
Putnam, West Point (1855), both depicting tourists enjoying the
The Adirondacks: 1870s-1890s examines the creation of Adirondack Park, established
to save the source of the river and combat deforestation in order to protect
the viability of the entire Hudson watershed. Advocates for the area included
surveyor Verplanck Colvin, who mapped the area’s peaks and lakes as
superintendent of the State Adirondack Survey and identified the source of the
river at Lake Tear of the Clouds, and Seneca Ray Stoddard, a photographer whose
images of deforestation made a case for forest conservation. On view in this
section is one of Asher B. Durand’s majestic depictions of the Adirondack wilderness, Adirondack
Mountains, New York (ca. 1870).
The Palisades: 1890s-1950s traces the protection of the forests and cliffs of
the Palisades to maintain the health of the river and preserve a place for
beauty and nature. In the late 1800s, the Palisades cliffs were being blasted
to bits by road builders who prized their rock. Citizen activists, such as the
New Jersey chapter of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs and the American
Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, fought back and helped create
Palisades Park in 1909. Residents of New York and New Jersey thronged to the
park, arriving by foot, ferry, train, and car, with over two million people
visiting in 1920 alone, most of them from Manhattan. The exhibition features a
selection of tourist brochures from that era, including one with a trio of
women posed on the cliff edge, above the river.
The Hudson Highlands: 1960s-1980s explores how activism along the river helped spark
the modern American environmental movement. By the early 1960s, untreated
sewage and industrial pollutants were poisoning the river. Increasing numbers
of power plants were also rising along the Hudson, whose operations were
killing millions of fish, and whose monumental structures were intruding upon
the most treasured vistas. When Con Edison announced plans to build a plant on
Storm King Mountain, citizen activists fought back and prevented its
construction. By the 1980s, citizens could legally intervene to stop
development that put treasured natural resources at risk. On view is an
aquarium featuring striped bass and other fish native to the Hudson River,
which now thrive due to activists’ efforts to save them. Displays of
artifacts, images, and media from the environmental campaigns of the era
include a 1983 photograph featuring John Cronin, river patroller for the Hudson
River Fisherman’s Association (now called Riverkeeper) on his first day on the
job, confronting an Exxon tanker discharging polluted water into the river.
The final section, A Rising
Tide: Today, discusses the process of reimagining and reclaiming the
Hudson River in the 21st century, as experts in many fields explore ways to
restore and re-engineer areas of the river in response to climate change. The
exhibition showcases innovative projects addressing these concerns, such as a
system of “living breakwaters,” reef-like structures designed to restore
diverse aquatic habitats, lessen wave impacts, and restore the shoreline,
implemented by the New York Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery and landscape architecture
“We hope Hudson Rising will inspire visitors to
see the river differently, and how movements like environmental activism get
born,” Dr. Mirrer said.
“It’s not a new story, but this is the first exhibit that presents
such a comprehensive look at the Hudson River as an incubator of the
As part of New-York Historical’s What the
History programs, a suite of interactive talks, history classes, art-making
workshops, and social evenings for a young professional audience illuminates
the environmental history of New York, the lasting impact of the Hudson River
School painters on the American imagination, and how contemporary design and
ideas are engaging with the threats climate change pose to the city.
Visiting families can enjoy a special guide
featuring suggested exhibition highlights to view as a family, discussion
questions, and gallery-based activities. During the April School Vacation Week
(April 19-28), Museum’s family programs explore environmental activism,
including art making using recycled materials in Museum galleries. On the
weekends (April 20-21 and April 27-28) visiting families can interact with
Living Historians portraying famous and unsung activists of American history.
On April 16, architectural historian Barry
Lewis discusses how the Victorians “greened” their homes and cities, bringing
nature into city greenbelts and private home design. On May 22, Douglas
Brinkley, New-York Historical’s presidential historian, explores how presidents
like Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt championed the protection
of the nation’s natural treasures and established a sprawling network of state
parks and scenic roadways, respectively. On June 9, author Leslie Day leads a
tour along the Hudson River exploring its rich geological and human history and
its diverse ecosystems.
exhibit is particularly timely: years of exploitation and pollution have
resulted in the entire Hudson River, from the Battery to Hudson Falls, some 200
miles, designated a superfund site by EPA. Mandated clean-up by industrial
polluters including General Electric, have significantly improved conditions.
But the Trump Administration’s EPA is moving to issue a Certificate of
Completion which would end GE’s responsibility for cleaning up the Superfund
site, despite the state’s research that shows high levels of PCBs remaining in
Cuomo issued a statement ahead of Administrator Wheeler’s visit to New York:
“In New York, we
are leading the fight to protect our environment with the most ambitious
environmental agenda in the nation. Administrator Wheeler, while you are in New
York, I urge you to visit the Hudson River, one of this country’s natural
treasures that is also one of the most pressing Superfund sites in the country.
New York has fought to restore this vital resource but the ball is now in the
EPA’s court. The EPA can either do the right thing and continue to hold GE
accountable for continued clean up, or they can side with big polluters and let
GE off the hook for its responsibility to clean up PCBs in the river.
“We refused to allow PCB
contamination to continue to jeopardize the health and safety of our
communities for generations to come. We hope and expect that the EPA will join
us in ensuring the full completion of the cleanup.”
I suggested Wheeler visit “Hudson Rising”.
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical’s mission is to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history. New-York Historical is also home to the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, one of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation—and one of only 20 in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association—which contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, newspapers, manuscripts, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.
for Yourself: Hike the Hudson River School Art Trail
Walk in the footsteps of the Hudson River School artists Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, Asher B. Durand, Jasper
Cropsey, Sanford Gifford and other pioneering American landscape artists,
literally walking into their paintings, and appreciating their work in an
entirely new way.
See what inspired Thomas Cole, his art and his passion to save the Hudson Valley environment, when you visit his home and art studio. Visit Frederic Edwin Church’s magnificent Olana, walk the gorgeous trails and see the very first protected “viewshed” (Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson, NY 12534, 518-828-0135, olana.org.) Hike the trails that take you up to where the Catskill Mountain House would have stood, to Sunset Rock, to Kaaterskill Falls, North-South Lake, just as the Hudson River School painters did, often with markers that show the paintings that were created from that very same vantage point.
“The Hudson River School painters
believed art to be an agent of moral and spiritual transformation. In
large-scale canvases of dramatic vistas with atmospheric lighting, they sought
to capture a sense of the divine, envisioning the pristine American landscape
as a new Garden of Eden. Their work created not only an American art genre
but also a deeper appreciation for the nation’s natural wonders, laying the
groundwork for the environmental conservation movement and National Park
“Harry Potter: A History of Magic”, the newly opened exhibit at the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library only on view until January 27, is a must-see on so many levels. It isn’t just for fans of J.K. Rowling’s phenomenal series, where you get extraordinary insights into her creative process through glimpses at original hand-written drafts and drawings, but insights into the history of magic – the centuries of folklore, myth and legend – that provided the foundation for her stories. Here you see the original documents and artifacts which make you realize (for the first time), how Rowling drew on history and tradition, and how magic and witchcraft actually provided the foundation of science and discovery.
“Abracadabra,” we learn, is an incantation believed to have healing powers, first recorded by Quintus Serenus Sammanicus, physician to the Roman Emperor Caracalla. He prescribed that the word be repeatedly written out, each time leaving off one letter. The charm was then worn as an amulet around the neck to drive out fever. We see it described in “Liber Medicinalis,” a 13th century book from Canterbury.
The invisibility cloak that Harry Potter wore? There actually was an incantation for invisibility that we can see in a mid-17th century spell book owned by a contemporary of Shakespeare. A 4th century papyrus scroll turns out to be an ancient Greek handbook of magic that contains a love charm.
Mandrake roots really do look like men (or women) and the legend of them screaming when pulled out by the roots, causing insanity, was documented across cultures. We get to see a mandrake root, which looks like a shriveled old man in anguish.
The Philosopher’s Stone that plays such a key role for Harry Potter (it was renamed the Sorcerer’s Stone for American readers)? This was the quest of alchemists, who sought to create the elixir of immortal life and turn ordinary metal into gold – in essence, harnessing the energy of the universe and its power. The “recipe” for the Philosopher’s Stone was believed to be prescribed in The Ripley Scroll. We get to see an actual Ripley Scroll, from around 1570 England, exquisite in its color, unfurled over 20 feet, one of only 22 known to still exist. This one is on loan from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.
The scroll takes its name from George Ripley, a canon at Bridlington Priory in northern England and author of “The Compound of Alchymy.” The scroll, full of mystical symbolism, supposedly gives clues to how to make the key red, white and black stones that together would form the Philosopher’s Stone. Rowling wove these symbols into her characters: Rubeus Hagrid (rubeus is Latin for “red); Albus Dumbledore (albus is Latin for “white”) and Sirius Black, Harry’s three father figures.
We get to see a copy of Culpepper’s Herbal, describing the medicinal properties of herbs, the first medical text to be published in English (instead of Latin), so as to break the monopoly of wealthy, educated in having this knowledge. Culpepper was accused of witchcraft in 1642, but acquitted. The book is still in print and we learn from Rowling that she possesses two copies.
We get to see the actual tombstone of Nicolas Flamel, an actual person! who a landlord and bookseller in medieval Paris who married a rich woman and became a philanthropist. His interest in alchemy, according to Pottermore, was apparently sparked after he obtained a mystical book was written by a man called Abraham the Jew in Greek, Hebrew and other languages. Following his death in 1418, rumors began to circulate that Flamel was an alchemist who had discovered how to make the Philosopher’s Stone, and turn metal into gold. He was buried in the church of Saint-Jacques-de-la Boucherie in Paris, his grave marked by this tombstone. But years later, when the body was exhumed, there was no body. Some believe he escaped to India, and with the elixir, still lives.
The exhibition, a cerebral celebration marking the 20th anniversary of the US publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, captures the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories. Based on Harry Potter: A History of Magic, a British Library exhibition, with some special New York twists, it combines century-old treasures—including rare books, manuscripts, and magical objects from the British Library, New-York Historical Society, and other collections—with original material from Harry Potter’s U.S. publisher Scholastic and J.K. Rowling’s own archives, never before collected in one place, and items that have never been shown before. And this exhibit is the only other place where it will be shown, before the items go back to their respective museums, which include the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, in Cornwall.
The entertaining aspect is in the exhibition’s presentation, as if you are wandering through Hogwarts, with the galleries organized around the Hogwarts’ curriculum for witches: Potions, Alchemy, Herbology, Charms, Astronomy, Divination, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Care of Magical Creatures – each one showing the historical and cultural traditions that underlie Rowling’s fantastical world and her creative process.
It is as if instead of J.K. Rowling inventing the Hogwarts curriculum, she graduated from it. It also means that all of us, children and adults, who were so enrapt in the Harry Potter saga of witchcraft and magic 20 years ago, have a whole new dimension for appreciating Rowling’s masterpiece from a mature perspective.
The exhibit is captivating on so many levels – Rowling’s personality and creative process, you get so many insights into her as a person, and the connection to history and tradition at the heart of mythology. Also, we get to see the evolution of science from magic and spiritualism.
Rowling faithfully represented these traditions – even the names she chose for her characters relate back to these traditions, symbolically or literally.
In Potions & Alchemy, we see a copy of Jacob Meydenbach’s 1491 edition of Hartus Sanitatis (Latin for “The Garden of Health”), the first printed cyclopedia of natural history, which actually includes a hand-colored woodcut illustration of a potions class.
One of the plants described, blue hellebore, was the plant Harry Potter forgot to add in his Draught of Peace.
We see an actual bezoar stone, which was believed to be an antidote to poison, first introduced into medieval Europe by Arab physicians. They were expensive to buy and owners often kept their stones in elaborate cases. Here we see a bezoar stone in a gold filigree case from the 17th century.
The Herbology section is particularly fascinating: Here we see an illustration from a 15th century illustrated herbal by Giovanni Cadamasto that describes mandrakes (mandragara) that could cure headaches, earache, gout and insanity. Just as Rowling depicted, the plant was said to be particularly hazardous to harvest because the shrieks from the roots cause madness. “The best way to obtain it safely was to unearth its roots with an ivory stake, attaching the plant to a dog with a card. A horn would sound, drowning out the shrieking, startling the dog and causing it to drag out the mandrake.” We actually get to see a mandrake root and how much it resembles a prone shriveled man who appears anguished. The description of mandrake is also from a 14th century Arabic text, originally in Ancient Greek by Pedanius Dioscorides, a botanist.
We see implements of “magical gardening” of bone and antler, on loan from the Museum of Watchcraft & Magic, Boscastle, Cornwall.
There is an original copy of a book by Elizabeth Blackwell (one of the first women physicians), “A Curious Herbal,” published in London in 1737-38. She was desperate to raise money to spring her husband Alexander from debtor prison, so made drawings that she took to Alexander to identify, which she then published weekly, eventually detailing 500 plants.
An 1807 edition of Robert John Thornton’s “The Temple of Flora,” an elaborate botany book that nearly bankrupted Thornton to produce (it was originally titled, “The New Illustration of the Sexual System of Linnaeus”). There is an illustration of Dragon arum (Dracunculus vulgaris), also known as stink lily, which reproduces the smell of putrefying meat to attract flies for pollination.
In Charms, we see a copy of Cotton Mather’s “The Wonders of the Invisible World,” published in London in 1693 (from the New-York Historical Society Library), in which he justified the Salem witchcraft trials.
This is the area which gives some attention to the way witches were depicted, when in essence, they were shaman, healers, who were extraordinarily connected to the natural world, and in fact, the first scientists and doctors.
We see the earliest printed illustration of a witch, from 1489, depicting witches as powerful and dangerous. “The Iconography went on to influence image of witches for centuries. The printing press was new – like video of the time.”
Here we see a colorful broomstick belonging to Olga Hunt, a 20th century witch of Manatan, Devon (from the Museum of Witchcraft, Boscastle). The broomstick is closely associated with the Western image of witches, but has roots in pagan fertility rites. The connection with witchcraft and broomsticks developed during the witch hysteria of 16th and 17th century Europe. Olga was supposed to have used it to leap around Dartmoor on a full moon.
We also see Rowling’s original, handwritten draft of the Sorting Hat Song, sung at Harry’s sorting ceremony in his first year, with some crossings out and additions, and her sketch of Argus Filch, the Hogwarts caretaker (Argus is a name from Greek Mythology of a man-eyed giant who is “all seeing.”)
In Divination, there is a major archaeological find on view: oracle bones some 3,000 years old from China that proved the existence of the Shang Dynasty, which had only been known in legend. The bones offered not only the earliest examples of Chinese writing, but showed that the culture worshipped ancestors – the Oracle Bones were a means of communicating with ancestors, who could send back messages.
We see a black moon crystal ball used by “Smelly Nelly,” a 20th-century British witch who used strong perfume to attract the spirits she believed helped her to see the future (on loan from Museum of Witchcraft & Magic, Cornwall). Nelly is reflected in Rowling’s character of Sybill Trelawney, Hogwarts Divination professor.
There is also a 19th century fortune-telling doll from New-York Historical’s collection.
Astronomy features a 1699 celestial globe by famed cartographer Vincenzo Coronelli, pages from a notebook compiled by the artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci that show the sun and moon revolving around the Earth, and a 13th century astrolabe thought to be one of the oldest geared instruments in existence, from the American Museum of Natural History Library.
Defense Against the Dark Arts features an actual wand, in the shape of a snake (snakes were magical because they were thought to have the ability to regenerate, and a wand in the shape of a snake would have been very powerful), and we learn that there are still wandmakers today who go to the woods where trees speak to them to be selected. There is also a magic staff (1998) carved from timber.
The basilisk in mythology didn’t look like the snake-like creature in Harry Potter but was depicted as a strange chicken, the size of palm, but its stare would kill you, and the way to defeat it was not by sword but by weasels.Care of Magical Creatures features a 13th-century bestiary manuscript depicting a phoenix rising from the ashes, a narwhal tusk, and John James Audubon’s original watercolor of snowy owls, just like the snowy owl that Hagrid gave to Harry Potter.
We see the oldest description of a Hippogriff: 16th century book on vellum paper given to George III –a magical creature that has the front legs, wings, and head of a giant eagle and the body, hind legs and tail of a horse. It is very similar to another mythical creature, the Griffin, with the horse rear replacing the lion rear.
We see examples of unicorn (loaned from the Explorer’s Club), as well as an actual merman – a Japanese creation made by combining two fish with wire and cloth (worthy of P.T. Barnum). This is the first time it has been displayed outside the United Kingdom.
This fascination with these strange new creatures reflects the era of exploration into strange new lands and discovery of new creatures.
This section features Rowling’s hand-written draft of “Deathly Hallows”, with her crossings out, notes to self and ”x” where she needed to add more providing this amazing insight into Rowling’s creative process. There is also her own illustration of Harry and Hagrid going to Gringots and Jim Kay’s drawing of Hagrid.
These items were collected for the exhibition, basically tracing and providing original artifacts that underlie Rowling’s Harry Potter narrative, but it seems as if Rowling had already undertaken the Hogwarts curriculum herself. The exhibit brings together the source material that informed her inspiration.
In the section, Past, Present and Future, one of the most fascinating items is Rowling’s own draft for the “Order of Phoenix” and her meticulous outline of plot and where the characters are, what they are doing. You see original cover art by Brian Selnick for the 2018 (20th anniversary) series, in which he unifies the seven covers as a single image that tells the story of the Boy Who Lived, which had never been displayed before, and models of set designs for the “Cursed Child” on Broadway, as well as an autographed screenplay of “Fantastic Beasts,” and an edition of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (as “Sorcerer’s Stone” was titled in United Kingdom).
The New York presentation of the British Library’s Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition is special because it features Mary GrandPré’s pastel illustrations for the cover artwork of Scholastic’s original editions of the novels; Brian Selznick’s newly created artwork for the covers of the 20th anniversary edition of the Harry Potter series published by Scholastic; cover art by Kazu Kibuishi featured in Scholastic’s 15th anniversary box set; and the enormous steamer trunk used to transport a signed copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on the Queen Mary to the U.S. The exhibition also includes costumes and set models from the award-winning play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Also on display for the first time in the U.S. are Rowling’s handwritten first drafts of The Philosopher’s Stone and Deathly Hallows, her hand-drawn sketch of the Hogwarts grounds, and portraits and sketches of some of the Hogwarts’s professors and magical creatures created by British illustrator Jim Kay. John James Audubon’s watercolor of Snowy Owls, a 1693 publication defending the Salem witch trials, a study of the Woolworth Building—the landmark New York location featured in the film Fantastic Beasts—and other artifacts from New-York Historical’s collection.
I love the origination story – worthy of fiction – how in 1990, J.K. Rowling was sitting on a delayed train from Manchester to London when an idea popped into her head fully formed: the character of Harry Pottery, a boy wizard with messy black hair, glasses and a lightning shaped scar on his forehead. Over the next five years, she planned out seven books, writing mostly in longhand and amassing a mountain of notes, many on scraps of paper (some we get to see).
She presented a scroll of the draft of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (as it was titled in the United Kingdom), to Nigel Newton of Bloomsbury, who handed it to his eight year old daughter, Alice, to read. His daughter’s review, “‘it’s probably one of the best books for 8 or 9 year old could read,” encouraged him to publish. The initial print run was just 500 copies, typical for a children’s book by a first-time author. The book turned into a worldwide phenomenon – over 500 million books sold, printed in 80 languages. We see various editions lining the corridor.
There’s so much to absorb – I went through the exhibit twice, and used the Audible guide they make available for free, and after three hours, could have spent considerably more time there.
There is a superb Family Guide for “A History of Magic” that turns the exhibit into an interactive activity.
New-York Historical is also presenting a wide variety of exhibition-related events for grown-up Harry Potter fans throughout the run of the exhibition, including trivia nights, art workshops, creative writing classes, social meet-ups, open mics, book clubs, and engaging courses that explore the Hogwarts curriculum. Programs include an onstage conversation with illustrators Mary GrandPré and Brian Selznick, and a special evening with actor Jim Dale, known for his narration of all seven Harry Potter U.S. audiobooks. Family activities feature History of Magic family days with hands-on activities and crafts, a Harry Potter family book club, historical Hallowe’en celebration, and trivia for families. Additional programming information is available at harrypotter.nyhistory.org.
Harry Potter: A History of Magic is sponsored by Audible and a special audio tour to accompany the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition at New-York Historical, featuring Natalie Dormer, will be available to ticketholders as a free Audible download, offering in-depth content on fascinating objects throughout the exhibition galleries.
This is the only other exhibition of this collection outside of the British Library. After finishing here on January 27, the artifacts will be returned to the museums and institutions to which they belong. Poof, it’s vanished.
Timed-entry tickets for the exhibition Harry Potter: A History of Magic are $21 for adults, $16 for seniors (65+), $13 for students, $6 for kids ages 5–13, and free for children ages 0–4; tickets include admission to the rest of the Museum. Harry Potter: A History of Magic is on view through January 27, 2019, on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday 10 am–6 pm; Friday 10 am–9 pm; and Sunday 10 am–5 pm. The last entry is 45 minutes before closing.
“History Matters,” is the New-York Historical Society’s motto, and that is clearly on view.
There is so much to see at the New-York Historical Society – it never fails to offer fascinating and provocative exhibits – you need a couple of extra hours beyond the time visiting “Harry Potter.” I went through “Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow” exhibit which is hard-hitting and in your face discussion of how the Emancipation Proclamation, Civil War, and most significantly, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, led to an institutionalized system of terror and subjugation of African Americans, including a series of Supreme Court decisions dating back to Dred Scott, that perpetuated subjugation (on view through March 3).
Also, the relatively new “Gallery of Tiffany Lamps” is not to be missed – this permanent display of 100 illuminated lamps is breathtaking for its beauty and exquisite presentation (by architect Eva Jiricna), and you even get the opportunity to design your own Tiffany lamp shade. You also learn the “hidden history” behind the lamps: about Clara Driscoll, the woman who up until now was virtually unknown and unheralded but was the artistic genius behind many of his designs, who headed the “Women’s Glass Cutting Department.”
There are also two films that are shown in a fantastic theater, each shorter than 20 minutes: “We Rise” about women and social movements that were incubated, flourished and pollinated from New York City (narrated by Meryl Street) and “New York Story,” how and why it grew to be the commercial and cultural capital of the world and remains inextricably connected to the world.
There is a lovely café at the Society.
New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West (at 77th Street), 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy are tethered together in peoples’ minds, and not only because they both were assassinated within two months of each other in that fateful year of 1968. A new, remarkable exhibit that has just opened at the New-York Historical Society commemorates the 50th anniversary of those events, examines their conjoined legacy and makes some interesting discoveries: their lives had a kind of parallel trajectory, yet, they consciously steered separate courses, intersecting finally in death.
On view through May 20, 2018, Rebel Spirits: Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. showcases 61 photographs and 30 documents and artifacts that reveal the relationship between these historic figures. The exhibit is based in part on The Promise and the Dream, written by Vanity Fair contributing editor and New York Times writer David Margolick and produced by Lawrence Schiller for National Geographic Publishers. Schiller, a photojournalist who covered many of the significant events throughout the 1960s, conceived of the project and collected 21,000 photographs, sifting them down to 3,000, then 2,000, and ultimately, over the course of just three days, laid out the photographs that are presented much like a 20-page photo essay in Life Magazine, where Schiller worked, would have produced.
But in the course of gathering that material, an essential question arose: why were there so few photos of King and Kennedy together? The exhibit has just one where the two men were at the same event, with then-Vice President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Another instance where they would have been together was when King testified to a Senate Committee which included Robert Kennedy, in which he stated that the millions of dollars that were being sent to support the war in Vietnam should better be spent to revitalize America’s ghettoes (a photo is taken from behind King). Significantly, while Kennedy supported the idea of spending more in cities, he was forced for political reasons (like the fact that his brother, as President, dramatically escalated America’s role in Vietnam) to disassociate himself from King’s anti-Vietnam stance.
Margolick, who researched and wrote the book in a mere seven months time, started off with no pre-conceived notion, but wanted to come up with some original construct about these two lions of American history.
Indeed, if news is the first draft of history, books provide the room for reflection and context.
The big idea of the book and the exhibit is that “Robert Kennedy was a political person and Martin Luther King Jr. a spiritual person; they respected one another but there was a limit how closely they could ally,” Margolick said at the press opening of the exhibit.
The two men had reason to be wary of one another.
Robert Kennedy was at his core a politician from a political family; on top of that, his brother, as president, had made key decisions including significantly involving the US in war in Vietnam, and was skittish about making civil rights a key focus of his administration; as JFK’s Attorney General, Robert Kennedy had signed off on J. Edgar Hoover’s request to surveil King, whom Hoover was convinced was a Communist. But Kennedy also sent US Marshals to force school integration.
King, for his part, was a spiritual man for whom civil rights was not merely a political issue but a matter of everyday survival for millions of people who could be brutalized without repercussion under a Jim Crow regimen.
“They were initially wary of each other,” Margolick said. “There was an enormous chasm which gradually shrank, but did not entirely disappear.”
“RFK felt MLK a liability, he couldn’t get close.” There was that special night, when Robert Kennedy, who made a concerted effort to embed himself into black communities when he realized he did not have more than a superficial understanding of issues, was in “black” Indianapolis for a campaign speech and gets notice that King has just been killed, and instead of rushing away, he spoke compassionately to the crowd. “That was a special night. Death was the only time Kennedy actually embraced [the idea] of King. Kennedy was dead two months later. There was no time to carry torch of MLK.
“But even in limited time, Kennedy was reluctant to embrace King. The Kennedys were politicians King was a spiritual man. Kennedy considers the political implications of everything. Part of the purpose of this book is to examine and correct the revisionist idea that were together – really was there was always space between them.”
They also came from completely different worlds: Kennedy chose to take up the fight; the fight chose King.
Over the course of researching the book, Margolick said, “my point of view was constantly evolving. I wanted it to be as original as it could. I looked at newspapers no one had; primary documents not examined before. I came to realize the most precious thing was to talk to dwindling supply of people who knew both men – very few knew both: Andrew Young, William Vanden Heuval and some behind scenes intermediaries.
Margolick realized that an excellent source would be the photographers who photographed both – including Harry Benson, Steve Shapiro – who could even describe how differently they interacted with crowds.
“Both men had a sense of their mortality – they knew they were doomed.” One of the photographers, he thinks it was Harry Benson, said that when King was in a crowd, he would look it over carefully, mindful of his safety. He never stayed in one place longer than he had to.”
But, he adds, “Robert Kennedy didn’t care. He had a premonition of death but approached it differently. He told his security force he didn’t want precautions. There were reporters who never left RFK’s side because they expected he would be assassinated and wanted to be there when it happened.”
Lawrence Schiller, who organized the project and curated the exhibit, was one of those photographers who helped document history beginning in the 1960s. He was assigned to Robert Kennedy and followed him for the last 40 days of his life. Schiller was at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles the night that Robert Kennedy delivered his last speech, tried to hurry out by going through the kitchen, where he was met by Sirhan Sirhan who shot him dead. (The portrait that opens the exhibit was taken by Schiller on board Kennedy’s plane en route to California just days before the speech.)
He was just 26 years old working as a photojournalist on a fateful day in 1963 when he was summoned from Los Angeles to Dallas after President John F. Kennedy was shot. He was in the police station when, as it happened, the police were booking Lee Harvey Oswald.
“The elevator opened to reveal Oswald, who was only 24 years old. It shocked me that evil could be in such a person – a kid my age had caused this tragedy.”
Schiller, who has several photos in the exhibit, called upon many of the photographers he knew who are represented, but there are many which had not been published before.
The exhibit is laid out chronologically for the most part, but in some cases “emotionally chronologically”, as when a portrait of Robert Kennedy, photographed on Feb. 26, 1962, with a movie slate, is juxtaposed next to a police mug shot of King from Feb. 22, 1956, upon which someone had scrawled “DEAD 4-4-68”; and in a case with artifacts, the Time Magazine editions with each on the cover, is displayed. ”King’s ‘Man of the Year’ drove people crazy,” Schiller remarks.
Asked which photo was the most impactful, Schiller points to one of a man with a broom, sweeping the blood from outside King’s hotel room in Memphis, a photo which he said had never been published; another shows the hotel room. Schiller says that people came in and collected vials of blood to keep as a memento.
The exhibit starts with Rosa Parks and ends in a field after Kennedy’s assassination, where people are holding a sign, “So long Bobby.” Several of the photos don’t feature King or Kennedy at all, but provide context: the KKK, US Marshals, Freedom Riders, the march after Medgar Evers was assassinated in June 1963, just five months before JFK was assassinated, in eerie similarity to the one-two King-Kennedy assassinations.
There is great intimacy of the experience – the photos, which were printed all at the same time in the same lab from negatives and then scanned – are 8 x 10 and smaller, the room is compact, so you are close to the images, can easily read the captions and notes.
“The insight we came to early on emerged from the question: Why were there not more photos of the two together?” Margolick said. “The book tries to fill the gap, why there were no more photos of the two together. They kept apart. We are documenting, explaining the absence of something.”
One notable absence is a still photo of Robert F. Kennedy addressing a black audience in Indianapolis the night that King was killed, which in itself, says a lot.
“No one knew how important that speech by Kennedy would be, the night MLK was killed,” Margolick said. “The event that became so important was so scantily covered, there were just two still photographers there from local papers. It was only a 6-7 minute speech, but there is no film of the entire speech.” But it was at that point that Kennedy most fulsomely embraced King. (A portion of the video is displayed.) There’s a monument in Indianapolis commemorating the event.
Born Worlds Apart
Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) and Robert F. Kennedy (November 20, 1925 –June 6, 1968) were born worlds apart—culturally, geographically, racially, financially, and politically—but by the time they were killed within months of each another in 1968, their worlds had come together. As their concerns expanded beyond civil rights (King) and organized crime (Kennedy), their ties deepened to encompass shared interests in supporting the poor and opposing the war in Vietnam. This unprecedented exhibition explores the overlapping paths of their lives through images taken by some of the most renowned photojournalists of the era, including Bob Adelman, Danny Lyon, Henri Dauman, Jacques Lowe, Spider Martin, Steve Schapiro, Lawrence Schiller, and Paul Schutzer, alongside original correspondence, publications, and ephemera.
“The year 1968 rocked the nation in many ways, but it would be difficult to point to anything that shocked and sickened Americans more that year than the senseless and tragic deaths of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “Fifty years later, the legacies of Kennedy and King still reverberate. This timely exhibition underscores the two men’s lasting impact on our nation while drawing attention to the ways in which their lives intersected. ”
Exhibition highlights include images of King and his son looking at the charred remains of a cross the Ku Klux Klan burned outside his Atlanta home in 1960, King’s mug shot after being indicted for the 1956 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and Kennedy being swarmed by an adoring crowd during his 1968 presidential campaign. Also on view are posters reading “Honor King: End Racism!” and “I Am a Man” that were carried in a Memphis march led by widow Coretta Scott King and her children on April 8, 1968, as well as a black and white “Kennedy/King” button worn by a New Yorker in memory of the two slain leaders.
An adjunct display showcases the bronze sculpture of Martin Luther King Jr.―one of five existing casts created by Harlem Renaissance artist Charles Alston (1907– 1997), on loan from the Community Church of New York. Rebel Spirits is based in part on The Promise and the Dream, written by David Margolick and produced by Lawrence Schiller for National Geographic Publishers. The exhibition was curated by Lawrence Schiller, Cristian Panaite, and Marilyn Kushner. It was produced by Wiener Schiller Productions, Inc. in association with Susan Bloom International with support from Getty Images, The Jacques Lowe Estate, and Steve Schapiro.
Published by National Geographic and written by David Margolick, The Promise and the Dream: The Interrupted Lives of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. features an introduction by historian Douglas Brinkley. The book is available at the NYHistory Store.
Several public programs will provide further insights into the exhibition and its time period. On March 6, eminent legal experts survey the evolution of the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretations of the 14th Amendment—in commemoration of its 150th anniversary—and civil rights throughout American history, highlighting landmark cases such as Brown v. Board of Education. On April 23, scholar Randall Kennedy discusses the Supreme Court and Martin Luther King Jr. On May 21, journalist Chris Matthews sits down to explore the rebel spirit of Robert Kennedy.
The New-York Historical Society has a variety of fascinating exhibits, some short term and some ongoing.
The Vietnam War: 1945 – 1975 on view through April 22, 2018 is particularly timely in conjunction with the “Rebel Spirits.” Featuring interpretive displays, digital media, artwork, artifacts, photographs, and documents, the exhibit provides an enlightening account of the causes, progression, and impact of the war. Spanning the duration of U.S. involvement in Indochina, the narrative incorporates perspectives covering both the home and the war fronts.Displays touch upon the Cold War, the draft, military campaigns initiated by both sides, the growth of the antiwar movement, the role of the president, and the loss of political consensus. The exhibition explores themes of patriotism, duty, and citizenship. Key objects include a troopship berthing unit, interactive murals, vibrant antiwar posters, artwork by Vietnam vets, a Viet Cong bicycle, the Pentagon Papers, and news and film clips.
Gallery of Tiffany Lamps
Step into the Gallery of Tiffany Lamps, a permanent exhibit which is the centerpiece of a newly designed fourth floor, and you are aglow in light and beauty. The exhibit features more than 100 illuminated Tiffany lamps from N-YHS’s spectacular collection displayed within a dramatically lit jewel-like two-story space (the glass staircase is exquisite).
The presentation is breathtaking, and so insightful: it was only in the last decade that it was learned through a series of letters that some of Tiffany’s most famous and prized lamps, featuring nature imagery like wisteria, dragonflies, spider webs, were designed by Clara Driscoll, who headed the Women’s Glass Cutting Department of some 45-55 young women (mainly 16-17 year olds who would work until they went off to be engaged).
The redesigned fourth floor also offers exhibitions and interactive media that explore American history. Themed displays in the North Gallery present a variety of topics—such as slavery, war, infrastructure, childhood, recreation, and 9/11—offering unexpected and surprising perspectives on collection highlights. Touchscreens and interactive kiosks allow visitors to explore American history and engage with objects like never before. When I visit, a docent is discussing the Industrial Revolution with high school students.
Women’s Rights & Social Activism
A new Center for Women’s History enables visitors to discover hidden connections among exceptional and unknown women who left their mark on New York and the nation with the multimedia digital installation, Women’s Voices, and through rotating exhibitions in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery. Objects from the Billie Jean King Archive are also on view.
Hotbed, a special exhibit on view through March 25, 2018, is about Greenwich Village in the early 20th century, when it was a hotbedof political activism and social change—where men and women joined forces across the boundaries of class and race to fight for a better world. At the heart of the downtown radicals’ crusade lay women’s rights: to control their own bodies, to do meaningful work, and above all, to vote. Celebrating the centennial of women’s right to vote in New York and on view in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, Hotbed features immersive installations and more than 100 artifacts and images—drawn from New-York Historical’s archives and several private collections—that bring to life the neighborhood’s bohemian scene and energetic activist spirit.
Collecting the Women’s Marches, on view through June 3, 2018, documents January 21, 2017, when hundreds of thousands rallied at the Women’s March on Washington for diverse issues including women’s rights, racial equality, and the environment. Counting more than 500 sister marches across the United States, it was the largest single-day protest in the nation’s history. As part of its History Responds program, the New-York Historical Society collected a range of artifacts, including signs, sashes, pussyhats, and colorful props, to document the moment. One year later, Collecting the Women’s Marches highlights some of the political and visual themes that emerged, as well as the efforts of individuals and groups that worked behind the scenes. An adjunct display of protest clothing by Olek (Agata Oleksiak), an artist who works in crochet, and Brick x Brick, a public art performance group, is also on view. It is odd to have an exhibit of a major historic event so recent, and to actually have been there.
New York through the Lens of George Kalinsky on view through June 3, 2018 is an amazing photo exhibition of some of New York’s most iconic cultural moments over the past 50 years as captured by George Kalinsky. Serving as Madison Square Garden’s official photographer, Kalinsky has turned truly memorable moments―sporting events, legendary performances, and notable occasions―into lasting images that have defined the city. Among the quintessential photographs on view are Pope John Paul II hoisting a seven-year-old child onto the Popemobile in Madison Square Garden, Bill Bradley celebrating a New York Knicks victory, Sloane Stephens winning the 2017 US Open, and Jesse Orosco falling to his knees on the mound as the Mets won the 1986 World Series.
Collector’s Choice: Highlights from the Permanent Collection, ongoing: Since 1804, the New-York Historical Society has been welcoming to its collection some of the most esteemed artworks of the modern world. Collector’s Choice: Highlights from the Permanent Collection showcases a selection of paintings that reflect the individual tastes of several New York City collectors who donated their holdings to New-York Historical. Joining Picasso’s Le Tricorne ballet curtain are featured American and European masterpieces spanning the 14th through the 21st centuries from Luman Reed, Thomas Jefferson Bryan, and Robert L. Stuart, including colonial portraits of children, marine and maritime subjects, and an installation showcasing recently collected contemporary works.
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 10 am – 6 pm; Friday: 10 am – 8 pm; Saturday: 10 am – 6 pm; Sunday: 11 am – 5 pm Admission: Adults: $21; Teachers and Seniors: $16; Students: $13; Children (5–13): $6; Children (4 and under): Free. The museum has a pay-as-you-wish policy on Fridays from 6-8 pm.