The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW)

History Promotion
Born and raised in New York City, Leon Levy was one of the most important mutual fund managers for the Oppenheimer firm. This successful financial expert enthusiastically embraced ancient history throughout his adult life. With firm support from his wife, Shelby White, he set aside money for the Leon Levy Foundation. Leon passed away in 2003, and the foundation was gradually developed into what ultimately became the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, or simply ISAW. This entity was established to promote, nurture and support the academic research of history and archaeology all over the world. As one of the most prestigious institutions of higher education in NYC, New York University (NYU) proudly takes a leading role in managing and implementing the vision and initiatives of Leon Levy and his wife. Since 2006, the foundation has been affiliated with this university that has a solid connection with other academic programs worldwide. The main campus of NYU is located in Lower Manhattan, but the ISAW facility is located in Upper Manhattan. NYU simply didn't have enough space to open a new faculty or department with great potential for expansion in the long term. Fortunately, a six-level property near Central Park was successfully transformed into the headquarters of the ISAW. First and foremost, this institute is used by graduate students in various fields of history, sociology, anthropology and other relevant disciplines. However, the public is welcome to attend various presentations and other events that highlight the tremendous work done by the ISAW. Click to book your NYC Uptown Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.


The ISAW was never established to become a museum or art gallery with a large collection of artefacts from ancient civilizations. Instead, this entity hosts temporary exhibits that highlight some of the research of the students and staff. Most of the rotating exhibits include photographs, documents and other printed materials that shed light on some mysteries or partially answered issues in history. Some of the presentations include antiquities and relics that have been loaned from other museums, galleries and private collections. Most of the exhibits that have been displayed at the ISAW have focused on Greco-Roman, Babylonian, Chinese and Judeo-Christian topics.

Visiting ISAW

The ISAW is nested between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue in the Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan. You'll need to get on East 84th Street to find the main entrance to the facility. This relatively narrow and quiet street runs from Central Park to the East River. The Metropolitan Museum of Art serves as a great reference point for the ISAW. This world-famous museum takes up several blocks along 5th Avenue, so it should be easy find it. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) operates numerous bus routes that stop within walking distance of the ISAW. If you'd like to utilize rail transportation, then get on a New York City subway train that stops at the 86th Street station. Situated under Lexington Ave, this underground subway hub gets service from the 4, 5 and 6 lines. The walk from the rail station to the ISAW should normally take about five minutes. Additionally, the 86th Street station has another section that's located below 2nd Avenue. You can take the Q train to this stop that's about five blocks away from the institute. Home to more than a dozen parking garages, the Upper East Side also has a car-friendly layout. However, parallel parking spots near the ISAW might be difficult to find.

Location: 15 East 84th Street, New York, NY, 10028

Click here to visit The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) official website.

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