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About the New-York Historical Society

The New-York Historical Society was established in 1804 as New York’s first museum. Its 11 founders—John Pintard, William Linn, John N. Abeel, Samuel Bayard, David Hosack, Anthony Bleecker, Samuel Miller, John M. Mason, DeWitt Clinton, Peter G. Stuyvesant, and Egbert Benson—had all lived through the turbulent years of the American Revolution and the British occupation of New York. These men believed that New York’s citizens needed to take decisive action to preserve eyewitness evidence of their own historical moment, which they recognized as important, fearing “dust and obscurity” would be the inevitable fate of accounts and artifacts if left in the hands of private individuals. “Without the aid of original records and authentic documents,” they declared, “history will be nothing more than a well-combined series of ingenious conjectures and amusing fables.”

It is in this tradition that New-York Historical has moved forward into the 21st century, offering to visitors on-site and online a vast collection of art, objects, artifacts and documents and an ongoing collecting program that aims to facilitate a broad grasp of history’s enduring importance and its usefulness in finding explanations, causes, and insights.

The New-York Historical Society Museum

As the first museum in New York City—predating even the founding of the Metropolitan Museum of Art by nearly seventy years—our Museum is home to some of the city’s and nation’s beloved artworks, including those by Thomas Cole, Rembrandt Peale, and Gilbert Stuart, as well as all 435 of John James Audubon’s extant preparatory watercolors for Birds of America.

Newly designed in 2017, the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture on our reimagined fourth floor offers visitors an interactive exploration of new and historic objects from our collection, such as George Washington’s camp bed from Valley Forge, the 1863 draft wheel used in the lottery that set off the Civil War Draft Riots, and American folk art from the legendary collection of sculptor Elie Nadelman, as well as objects from the legendary tennis player and equal rights activist Billie Jean King and 100 glistening Tiffany Lamps—one of the world’s largest collections of Tiffany glasswork—on view in our Center for Women’s History.

The Patricia D. Klingenstein Library

One of the oldest, most distinguished libraries in the nation—and one of only 20 in the United States qualified to be a member of the Independent Research Libraries Association—the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library contains more than three million books, pamphlets, maps, atlases, newspapers, broadsides, music sheets, manuscripts, prints, photographs and architectural drawings. The Library continues to receive important research materials relating to education, philanthropy, social service, and the history of New York and the nation, including the papers of the Children’s Aid Society, the complete archives of Time Inc. and the New York Sun, photograph collections of Jessie Tarbox Beals, Editta Sherman, and George Kalinsky, and much more.

DiMenna Children's History Museum

Founded in 2011, DiMenna Children’s History Museum is the first history museum in the United States designed specifically for children, presenting 350 years of New York and American history through character-based pavilions, interactive exhibits and digital games, the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library, and a wide range of family learning programs for toddlers, children, and preteens.

Educational Programs

Serving more than 200,000 students each year, our extensive range of school programs engage students from early elementary school through high school in American history. Our wide offering of teen programs, led by museum educators, introduce young historians to research skills through primary sources and digital media projects, so students develop independent views of history. Professional development programs and curriculum resources for teachers foster lifelong learning and invite exciting opportunities for classrooms to explore history in new ways.

Center for Women’s History

Founded in 2017 as the first of its kind in the nation within the walls of a major museum, our Center for Women’s History reveals the untold stories of women who have shaped the American experience, exercising power and effecting change—often before they could even access the ballot box. A hub for scholarship and education, the Center for Women’s History showcases women across the spectrum of race, class, and culture through innovative permanent installations, temporary exhibitions in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, digital learning opportunities, fellowships and scholarly initiatives, and a vibrant array of talks and programs.

Creative: Tronvig Group