Museum of the City of New York: A Century Preserving the City’s Rich History

by Nick David

Since it was first named in 1664, New York City has captured the imagination of the world. It is one of the most vibrant, cultured and fascinating cities on Earth and a great way to get to know it a little better is to spend an afternoon at the Museum of the City of New York.

This museum was founded in the early 1920s to document and preserve the history of its surroundings, and today, it offers a rich and thorough glimpse through the centuries of life in the Big Apple.

Museum of the City of New York

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Museum History
Founded in 1923, the goal of the Museum of the City of New York was to preserve the history of the great city. It began collecting and preserving many of the cornerstones of New York life, such as paintings, furniture, decorative arts and theater artifacts.

Originally, the collection was located in Gracie Mansion, which is now the official residence of New York’s mayor. In 1932, it moved into its current home on Fifth Avenue.

While there are many works of art in this museum, it is not an art museum. Its goal was to be a window on the past, and that is an excellent description of what it is today. There are nearly three-quarters of a million objects in the museum, each one helping to tell the story of New York.

Museum Collection
Among the most interesting artifacts in the museum are some of playwright Eugene O’Neill’s original manuscripts, hundreds of glass negatives from the works of noted photojournalist Jacob Riis and a suit worn by a New Yorker to George Washington’s Inaugural Ball.

Some of the museum’s permanent collections include interior designs from William Baumgarten & Co., who designed the Vanderbilt Mansion on Fifth Avenue, as well as some of the stunning rooms at the historic Plaza Hotel. They also include many of the stunning photographs of Mel Rosenthal and Edmund V. Gillon who both documented life in the teeming city, taking picture of everything from crumbling inner city neighborhoods to the beauty of New York’s architecture.

Special Exhibits
Aside from the permanent collection, the Museum of the City of New York also has special exhibitions all year long. These exhibitions cover many remarkable chapters in the New York story, focusing at times on a neighborhood such as Coney Island or Greenwich Village, or on a particular part of life, such as jewelry, graffiti, clothing or children’s toys.

The exhibitions change throughout the year, so be sure to check the museum’s website for information about current or upcoming shows.

Admission to all of the special exhibitions at the Museum of the City of New York is included in the general admission.

Visiting the Museum
This museum is located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street right across the street from Central Park and the Conservatory Garden. It is easily accessible on New York’s public transit system.

There are discounts on general admission for seniors and for students, and children 12 and under are free. There is also a special price for families. The museum has a gift shop and a café and it is open seven days a week.

For visitors who want to make the most of their visit, there are free tours of the museum three afternoons a week, led by a museum docent. No reservations are required. There are also paid group tours available, led by museum curators and specialists. There are even behind-the-scene and after-hour tours which can be arranged through the museum’s information desk. These paid tours are for groups of up to ten people, and must be reserved in advance.

Children’s Museum of the Arts: Bringing Arts to Kids of All Ages

by Nick David

Located right in the heart of Manhattan, the Children’s Museum of the Arts is a real family highlight for any visitor to New York City. The museum is a non-profit arts facility that lets kids express their artistic side with great exhibitions and a variety of hands-on classes.

Children's Museum of the Arts

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Museum Location & Admissions
The Children’s Museum of the Arts is located in Manhattan, wedged between West Village and Tribeca. It sits at 103 Charlton Street, between Hudson and Greenwich Streets.   Admission is cheap, at $11 for everyone from one to 65. Babies and seniors are free, and Thursdays from 4pm to 6pm is pay-as-you-wish. There are discounts for educators and for military personnel and their families.

The museum has wonderful exhibits which change throughout the year. There is a calendar on the museum website where you can find current and upcoming exhibits. Previous art exhibits have included shows of children’s artwork from Sri Lanka, showcases of works from famous artists from around the world, and thematic exhibits about topics such as birds and self-portraits.

Get Your Hands Dirty
The Children’s Museum of the Arts offers classes for every age from ten months to fifteen years.

The WEE Arts Studio is for kids aged ten months to five years. Several mornings a week, there are WEE arts drop in sessions, with no registration required. The kids do need a parent or caregiver to stay with them for the session, which lasts just over an hour and is packed with music, art and stories.   If you feel like hanging around at the museum afterwards, general admission is half price.

For older kids, there are daily workshops in the Fine Arts Studio, where the whole family can paint a picture, draw anything or sculpt or sew their own masterpiece.

Where ever you create your masterpiece, the museum offers free bags so you can take your creations with you when you leave.

The Clay Bar, the Ball Pond & the Sound Booth
Three of the most popular exhibits at the museum are the Clay Bar, the Ball Pond and the Sound Booth.

The Clay Bar gives kids the chance to play with modelling clay. It’s so popular; you do need to sign up upon arrival at the museum. Sessions are 35 minutes each, and it can get quite busy on weekends, so don’t be late! Mondays and Wednesdays are the best days to visit the Clay Bar.

At the Ball Pond, your child can burn off some extra energy by bouncing around a large ball pit. Every hour is dedicated to a set age group, so you don’t have to worry your little ones may get hurt. The first 20 minutes of every hour is for two to four year olds, then the next 20 minutes are for five to seven years of age, and the last 20 minutes of the hour are for kids aged eight and over. Caregiver supervision is still required.

At the Sound Booth, your child can ask to record anything they like, perhaps a song or a speech. You can find your sound recording on the museum’s Soundcloud page so you can play it again and again!

Visitor Tips
The entire idea of the Children’s Museum of the Arts is to get your hands on art, so dress appropriately. There are smocks available for the kids, but it is a good idea for everyone in the family to wear clothes they don’t mind getting dirty.

There is a lounge where you can have a quick snack, and there is food for sale at the front desk. There is no full-service cafeteria on site, but there are plenty of places to eat nearby.

Brooklyn Museum | A Diverse Collection of Art & Sculpture

by Nick David

New York City boasts an incomparable collection of premier art museums, and the Brooklyn Museum is one of the largest and most important. Half a million visitors make this museum their destination each year.

Located about a half an hour from midtown Manhattan, the Brooklyn Museum is the second-largest museum in New York City. It showcases a permanent collection of more than one and a half million objects including a celebrated collection of mummies, feminist art and buzzed-about temporary exhibitions.

Brooklyn Museum

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The World on Display
The Brooklyn Museum is known for its diverse collections of art and sculpture reflecting a wide range cultures. From its renowned massive collection of Egyptian and African art to the Asian and Islamic collections, the museum features a rich representation of the painting, sculpture and wall reliefs from many different heritages.

Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art
Opened in 2007, this 8,300-square-foot space houses a gallery which is devoted to Judy Chicago’s celebrated work “The Dinner Party” and presents exhibitions which highlight the women that are represented in this installation artwork. The Elizabeth A. Sackler Center features a regular schedule of feminist art exhibitions and also houses a study area.

Historical Rooms
History buffs will be absolutely captivated by the historical rooms housed in the decorative- arts collection in the Brooklyn Museum. The 28 American period rooms range from 1675 to 1928 and include the extravagant Moorish-style smoking room from John D. Rockefeller’s 54th St. Mansion.

The Mummy Chamber
The Brooklyn Museum boasts a world-famous collection of mummies. This long-term installation in the Egyptian Galleries explores the rituals behind mummification. On display is a fascinating collection of Egyptian material including the mummy of Hor, the mummy of the priest Thothirdes and a Book of the Dead scroll over twenty feet long.

Temporary Exhibitions
The Brooklyn Museum hosts an exciting schedule of temporary exhibits that showcase many different types of art from crafts to sculpture. Just one of the many inspired exhibitions presented by the museum include “The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk”. This multimedia exhibition is dedicated to the iconic French couturier and the inspirations behind his groundbreaking creations.

Education and Events
brFrom Pulitzer Prize award-winning photographer Carolyn Cole giving talks about her work, to the Children’s Book Fair, to workshops led by the award-winning poet Sonia Sanchez, the Brooklyn Museum hosts a diverse selection of programs and events. The popular Target First Saturdays event features free art and entertainment programs on the first Saturday of the month, with museum hours extended to 11pm.

About the Building
The Brooklyn Museum opened its door in 1897. It is one of the oldest museums in the country. Housed in a 560,000 square foot Beaux-Arts building, the museum is surrounded by lovely parks and gardens including Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Prospect Park Zoo.

Visiting the Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is located at 200 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York, about a 30 minute subway ride from midtown Manhattan.

The 1st Floor features the Arts of Africa collection and the Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden.

The 2nd Floor houses the Arts of Asia and the Islamic World collections.

The 3rd Floor features Egyptian Art and European Paintings.

The 4th Floor presents Contemporary Art, Decorative Arts and the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art.

The 5th Floor houses the Luce Center for American Art.

Dining onsite includes The Counter café and the Michelin-starred Saul restaurant and bar.

For more information and detailed directions, call (718) 638-5000 or visit the official Brooklyn Museum website. You can also follow the Brooklyn Museum on Twitter @brooklynmuseum.

Click to visit Brooklyn Museum official website.