About Museum of the City of New York
The Met may have everything from mummies to modern art, and the American Museum of Natural History a giant whale and IMAX, but the only museum to concentrate solely on the people, places and histories of all five boroughs of New York City is the Museum of the City of New York.
This jewel of a museum, which is privately operated as a nonprofit, was founded in 1923.
Its holdings include over 300,000 photographs, 100,000 of which are available to view on its website, plus an extraordinary collection of artwork, clothing, furniture, toys and ephemera from throughout NYC's epic history. A highlights tour on Wednesdays at 2pm is free of charge.
Since the Museum of the City of New York is relatively small, it's possible to see most of it in a couple of hours. Some of the well-designed exhibitions take a traditional tack, with numerous wall cards and papers guiding visitors through a variety of chronological tours. Other shows employ liberal use of multimedia, like "Timescapes," a 22-minute film that highlights many of the museum's greatest treasures (it runs every half hour). Past exhibitions have examined the history of baseball, the Titanic, Japanese immigrants, car culture, hip-hop fashion and much more, all of it through a distinctly New York lens.
"New York Interiors: Furnishings for the Empire City" is a permanent exhibition that showcases six glassed-in alcoves of period home design, the gilded age as understood through lush fabrics and impeccably designed chairs. To see how people of New York lived in the 17th Century through 1900, look no further than these lovingly preserved rooms.
The building's courtyard entryway on Fifth Avenue makes for a fine place to sit and relax after a day of uptown sightseeing; café tables and chairs are set out for all, though the downstairs café is only accessible with admission to the museum. The smartly stocked gift shop is open to the public.
Did you know?
The first incarnation of the museum, opened in 1923, was at Gracie Mansion on the Upper East Side, now the official residence for the Mayor of New York. The museum moved to its current home on Museum Mile in 1932, and has undergone recent structural renovations and improvements.
Urban-history buffs know that to truly understand the history of New York City – and more importantly, to learn about the accomplishments and achievements of generations of New Yorkers – you must spend some time at the Museum of the City of New York.
Good for Kids?
The museum offers a number of public programs and family-friendly activities; mostly geared toward ages 7 to 12, these hands-on sessions delve deeper into the exhibitions currently on view with discussions, scavenger hunts and art projects to help kids fully experience the city's panoply of stories. Check the museum's calendar for a full rundown of upcoming events.
Museum of the City of New York Location Information:
1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd St.
New York, NY 10029
2,3 to Central Park North (110th St.); 6 to 103rd St.