Behind The Scenes

Category Archives: Exhibitions

The Legacy of Voting Rights 50 Years After Selma

“Write right from left to the right as you see it spelled here.” Did you print your answer? If so, you got it wrong—it should have been written in cursive. “Spell backwards, forwards.” Did you include a comma? Wrong. Did you omit the comma? That’s wrong, too. These are only two of the 30 questions […]

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Guest Blogger Harold Holzer on Lincoln and the Jews

To celebrate the upcoming opening of our groundbreaking exhibition, Lincoln and the Jews on March 20, Harold Holzer, the Roger Hertog Fellow at the New-York Historical Society and Chief Historian to the exhibition, has signed on as this week’s guest blogger. In his post, he highlights the show and the exciting history it illuminates. So […]

Uptown, Audubon’s Birds Hit the Streets

Patron saint of the environmentalist movement and celebrated ornithologist, John James Audubon was the first to sound the alarm. He recognized in the early 1800s that many avian species and their habitats were threated. Almost 200 years later, many of the feathered subjects are endangered or extinct. To see 42 of his original breathtaking watercolors […]

A Look at Harlem’s History of Protest

In today’s installment of our Black History Month celebration, we’ll be exploring Harlem. The first wave of African Americans landed in Harlem after World War I, when hundreds of thousands left the Jim Crow South in search of safety and opportunity. In 1914, only 50,000 blacks lived in Harlem, but by 1930, almost 205,000 had moved to […]

“How Long, Not Long:” Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Today the New-York Historical Society’s newest exhibit, Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein opens to the public just in time for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 19. This exhibition features 46 stunning black and white and color photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March. In […]

Sly Santas and Toy Trains: Two Centuries of Holiday Celebrations at New-York Historical

Despite busy schedules, throngs of tourists and cold temperatures, you would be hard-pressed to find a New Yorker who doesn’t find joy in holiday traditions. How would we know it was December without the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, store windows on Fifth Avenue, street vendors selling chestnuts, and nostalgic subway trains and toy train exhibitions? Thousands have already […]

What The General Slocum Victims Wore

This may look like an ordinary child’s shoe, but it has a much darker history. The above shoe belonged to the then nearly six year old Helen Liebenow as a baby, sister of the donor, Adella Liebenow Wotherspoon. Wotherspoon was the last survivor of the General Slocum steamer disaster. On June 15, 1904, fire broke out […]

When America Opened Its Doors Again: The Immigration Act of 1965

Our new exhibition Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion focuses much on the question of immigration in America: who is allowed, who isn’t, how many people should come, and why. These issues are extremely apparent in the passing of the Chinese Exclusion act of 1882, which barred Chinese immigration into America, and required that all Chinese entering or […]

How To Choose 101 Objects That Represent New York

 Sam Roberts took on a lot when he decided to whittle down the essence of New York to 101 objects. How could a city with hundreds of years of history, millions of residents, and countless cultural contributions be defined in such a way? We spoke with the author about his inspiration, his process, and what […]

What New York Slang Did We Get From The Dutch?

Today is the anniversary of the colony of New Amsterdam officially becoming New York, when the Dutch ceded control to the British. But Dutch influence on New York, and on America, is longstanding–Dutch values of tolerance and freedom of religion are things Americans hold dear (in 1597 The Netherlands established “no one shall be persecuted or […]