Museum of the City of New York
The Museum of the City of New York is an art gallery and a history museum at the same time. It tells the story of the creation, growth, and development of New York. The five-storey building of dark red brick with white trim contains items, such as prints, photographs, art objects, costumes, paintings, sculptures, books, manuscripts, and even toys. I was particularly impressed by the Timescapes video, “Activist New York” exhibition, and “Mastering the Metropolis” display because they enlightened me on important landmarks in the history of the city in an interesting manner.
Within 28 minutes, the film Timescapes covers more than 400 years of the history of New York. An amusing aspect of the video is the way in which vintage photos interflow with modern-day scenes. The vintage photos are from the Museum’s collection. The story in the film is narrated by a number of famous people, such as Stanley Tucci, Pete Hamill, and Cynthia Nixon. The film explores the city growth, starting from the small settlement inhabited by the Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans and developing into the present-day metropolis. Apart from the vintage photos, the video features paintings, prints, and animated maps that also belong to the Museum’s collection of items. The film is updated on a regular basis, so the final part now embraces the beginning of the 21st century as well. It was a captivating experience for me to watch how dramatically the city changed its face within its 400-year history. I felt as if I was time traveling or watching a dream with the rapidly changing scenery.
The “Activist New York” exhibition is another interesting experience at the Museum. The exhibition explores the history of social activism in the city and covers the period from the 17th century to modern days. Issues that inspired the citizens to unite and protest include abolitionism, civil rights, women’s suffrage, sexual orientation, religious freedom, wages, historic preservation, and bike lanes. For example, photos and historic documents expose the development of labor unions, including the Wagner Act of 1935 and the dockworkers’ fight for unbiased employment practices. The 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company is also among the records documenting major events that gave rise to labor reforms. Furthermore, there is a section that captures the housing movement. It shows the terrible conditions in which families lived until the problem was addressed by reformers and the city government. I learned that the reason for the movement was inadequate housing that caused unsanitary living conditions, as well as the mass immigration. There is also a section on the Federal Theatre Project founded in 1935 and aimed at hiring unemployed artists. It turns out that great playwrights, such as Orson Welles, Martin Ritt, Arthur Miller, Clifford Odets, Mark Blitzstein, John Houseman, and Joseph Losey came out of the project. Therefore, visiting the “Activist New York” exhibit was an informative travel across the social movements of New York.
Finally, the exhibition “Mastering the Metropolis” presents …