Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday Travels: The New York Historical Society

I have openly admitted numerous times on this blog that Jon & I are historical junkies. We have thoroughly been enjoying learning more about the history of the city that we live in and decided to cap that off with a visit to the New York Historical Society. This was our last museum on our museum list for NYC. Now we get to go back and visit some of our favorites.

The New York Historical Society is located on Central Park West at 77th Street. We weren't quite sure what to expect and were pleasantly surprised. We started on the top floor at The Henry Luce III Center for The Study of American Culture. Almost the entire floor is dedicated to artifacts from New York's history. They house the largest collection of Tiffany lamps for example. You'll see busts, sculptures, toys, a real horse drawn carriage and furniture among many other things. We spent a good part of our visit wandering this floor and pointing out things from NYC's past.

There were some paintings on the 3rd Floor, but most are on the 2nd Floor. One whole side was portraits of children and adults alike, some who were even family members, all real New Yorkers. The other part of the floor was dedicated to paintings that were Hudson River School landscapes. They were large and beautiful almost entirely landscapes without people in them.

The first floor we first took in the visiting exhibition of "Landmarks of New York". This is a collection of over 80 photographs of New York's more important landmarks. They are separated out by the year in which they were built, so as you walk through the room you essentially watch New York evolve. It was hands down our favorite exhibit.

The second visiting exhibition we saw was Harlem: Photographs of Camilo Jose Vergara 1970-2009. This was a collection of photographs that would show one storefront in Harlem from the 70's, then that storefront again in the 90's and then again in present day. Not just storefronts but schools, apartment buildings, streets, etc. There were also just great photographs of Harlem in general in this exhibit. I'd have to say the coolest thing about this exhibit though was seeing the changes of time right in front of your eyes when you see how something was at one time and then you see it again in the present. Those of us that haven't lived here our entire lives don't have those images in our heads. I found it very intersting.

The last visiting exhibit that we visited which was on the second floor was Abraham Lincoln in His Own Words. This was a very small exhibit that had writing samples and letters directly from Abraham Lincoln. It was basically set up as a U shape and took you through highlights of his career. It was small but incredibly powerful (especially to one so interested in the President's). I mean to see an actual letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote, his handwriting and all...pretty cool.

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to The New York Historical Society. It was the perfect size, we were able to meander our way through in 2 hours or so. I can't say that it's a museum that would have me coming back again and again, unless they had a great visiting exhibit I wanted to see, but I was certainly glad that we took the time out of our day to have the experience. New York is full of history and it's always interesting to learn more about the place where we live!

Post in Comments:

Have you ever been to the New York Historical Society?

What is your favorite time in NYC history?

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