Museum of the City of New York
The Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) is a history and art museum in New York City, New York. It was founded by Henry Collins Brown, in 1923 to preserve and present the history of New York City, and its people. It is located at 1220–1227 Fifth Avenue from East 103rd to 104th Streets, across from Central Park in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, at the northern end of the Museum Mile section of Fifth Avenue.
The red brick with marble trim museum was built in 1929–30 and was designed by Joseph H. Freedlander in the neo-Georgian style, with statues of Alexander Hamilton and DeWitt Clinton by sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman facing Central Park from niches in the facade.
The museum is a private non-profit organization which receives government support as a member of New York City's Cultural Institutions Group, commonly known as "CIG"s. Its other sources of income are endowments, admission fees, and contributions.
The Museum currently hosts the first-ever museum presentation of New York City's four-century history in its "New York At Its Core" permanent exhibition.
The museum was originally located in Gracie Mansion, where available space was limited. One of its first major exhibits was "Old New York", presented in the Fine Arts Building on West 57th Street in 1926. The success of the project led to a search for a new, permanent headquarters for the museum. A design competition was held between five invited architects, and the Colonial Revival design by Freedlander was selected. The city donated a site on Fifth Avenue, and funds for construction of the museum building were raised by public subscription. The original plans for the museum's building were scaled back as a result of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, nevertheless, the building was dedicated on January 11, 1932.
In 1982, the Museum received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York."
In 2000, the Giuliani administration told the museum that it could relocate to the historic Tweed Courthouse near City Hall in Lower Manhattan. El Museo del Barrio would then have moved across the street to occupy the current Museum of the City of New York building. This decision was overturned by the incoming administration of Michael Bloomberg, which decided to use the Courthouse as the headquarters for the new New York City Department of Education, causing MCNY's then-director Robert R. McDonald to tender his resignation. McDonald was replaced in 2002 by Susan Henshaw Jones, who was at the time the president of the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.
The Museum's former director, Susan Henshaw Jones, recommitted MCNY to its East Harlem neighborhood by planning an extension to the Museum. The groundbreaking for this extension, which included renovation of existing gallery space, as well as a new pavilion, took place on August 2, 2006, and it was completed in February 2008 with a ribbon cutting later that same year.
The pavilion gallery, designed by the Polshek Partnership, is 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) glass addition, which has two levels for which to display artifacts. The original 1932 Georgian Revival building was also restored during this project, as well as additions including a vault for the museum's silver collection, a research room and a room for the handling of artifacts. The total costs for the first phase of refurbishments came to $28 million.
The museum's collection of over 1.5 million items – which is particularly strong in objects dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries – include paintings, drawings, prints, including over 3000 by Currier and Ives, and photographs featuring New York City and its residents, as well as costumes, decorative objects and furniture, antique toys– the museum was the first in the United States to establish a curatorial department for toys – ship models, rare books and manuscripts, marine and military collections, police and fire collections, and a theater collection which documents the golden age of Broadway theater. There are also dioramas about the city's history as well as its physical environment.
Among the rare items in the museum's collection is a chair that once belonged to Sarah Rapelje, daughter of Joris Jansen Rapelje of Nieuw Amsterdam, and said to be the first child born in New York State of European parentage. The chair was donated by her Brinckerhoff descendants.
The museum is known for its comprehensive collection of photographic images, which includes works by noted photographers Percy Byron, Jacob Riis and Berenice Abbott, as well as many Depression-era Federal Art Project photographs. The collection also includes still photography by film director Stanley Kubrick.
MCNY is also home to several recreations of furnished rooms from the house of John D. Rockefeller, donated by the Rockefeller family. Notable as well is a model of New Amsterdam based on the Castello Plan of 1660.
Henry Gurdon Marquand House Conservatory Window (around 1883–1884), designed by Richard Morris Hunt (1827–1895) and made by Eugène Stanislas Oudinot (1827–1889)
From October 2004 through July 2009, Perform was the only permanent exhibition in New York City focused on theater in New York. It included objects ranging from Bill "Bojangles" Robinson's tap shoes to advertising materials from Avenue Q.
In June 2007, the museum opened its temporary "The Glory Days, 1947–1957" exhibit, an in-depth photographic look at the history of professional baseball in New York City. The exhibit included clips of Ed Sullivan, a pioneer of CBS television entertainment, interviewing many of the players of the era, including Mickey Mantle and Phil Rizzuto. A section was devoted to Jackie Robinson, who broke the color line in 1947 when he joined the former Brooklyn Dodgers and became an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement.
In November of 2016 the Museum opened New York At Its Core, a three gallery exploration of New York City's 400 year history and the city's future. It features over 450 historic objects and images, many from the Museum’s collection, as well as contemporary video, photography, and interactive digital experiences.
Until November 26th, 2017, the Rhythm and Power: Salsa in New York exhibit is open to explore by museumgoers. It features clothing, awards, and other items from various Latin American Pop and Salsa artists. The exhibit also sheds light on Salsa as a social movement from the 1960s to now.
- List of museums and cultural institutions in New York City
- List of New York City Designated Landmarks in Manhattan from 59th to 110th Streets
- Gray, Christopher (6 November 2005). "Preserving the Past, Planning the Future". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
- Morrone, Francis (28 April 2008). "New Life for the Museum of the City of New York". The New York Sun. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
- Beard, Rick. "Museum of the City of New York" in Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. (2010), The Encyclopedia of New York City (2nd ed.), New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-11465-2, p.868-69
- "Museum of the City of New York Designation Report" New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (January 24, 1967)
- White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot & Leadon, Fran (2010), AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.), New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 9780195383867, p.463
- "City-Owned Institutions – History of City-Owned Cultural Institutions". NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. Retrieved 2012-05-04.
- Federal Writers' Project (1939), New York City Guide, New York: Random House, ISBN 0-403-02921-X (Reprinted by Scholarly Press, 1976; often referred to as WPA Guide to New York City), pp.377-380
- New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Dolkart, Andrew S. (text); Postal, Matthew A. (text) (2009), Postal, Matthew A., ed., Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.), New York: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.186
- Santora, Mark. "Museum of City of New York Names Director" New York Times (September 24, 2002)
- Pogrebin, Robin (September 28, 2006). "The City Changes. Its Museum Will, Too". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-29.
- Pogrebin, Robin (August 11, 2008). "Museum of History Unveils Its Future". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-11.
- Del Signore, John (January 26, 2012). "New South Street Seaport Museum Reopens With Occupy Wall Street Show". Gothamist. Archived from the original on May 3, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2012.
- Sarah Rapalje (1625–1685), The New Netherland Institute, New York State Library, Albany, New York
- "Stanley Kubrick's 'Life And Love on the New York City Subway'". Huffington Post. May 1, 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-04.
- "Perform". WNET. June 15, 2008. Archived from the original on November 7, 2009. Retrieved November 30, 2009.
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