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Museum of the City of New York

The Museum of the City of New York is an art gallery and history museum founded in 1923 to present the history of New York City, USA and its people. 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.” It is located at the northern end of the Museum Mile section of Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, between 103rd and 104th Streets, facing Central Park. The Museum is a private non-profit organization which receives government support. Admission is $10 for adults.

The brick and limestone building it occupies was designed by Joseph J. Freedlander in the neo-Georgian style. Construction began in 1928 and was completed in 1930.


The museum’s collections include paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs featuring New York City and its residents, as well as costumes, decorative objects and furniture, toys, rare books and manuscripts, marine and military collections, police and fire collections, and a theater collection (documenting the golden age of Broadway theater). 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 photographs, which includes works by Jacob Riis and Berenice Abbott, as well as many Depression-era Federal Art Project photographs. The museum is also home to several recreated furnished rooms from the house of John D. Rockefeller, donated by his son John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Tweed Courthouse move and museum expansion

In 2000 a plan was floated for the museum to relocate to the historic Tweed Courthouse by City Hall in Lower Manhattan. El Museo del Barrio would then have moved across the street to occupy the former Museum of the City of New York building. In the end, Mayor Michael Bloomberg decided to site the new New York City Department of Education in the Tweed Courthouse instead, causing then-director Robert R. Mcdonald to tender his resignation.

The Museum’s new director, Susan Henshaw Jones, recommitted MCNY to its Upper East Side neighborhood by planning an extension to the Museum. The groundbreaking for this extension, which includes new gallery space, took place on August 2, 2006; completion is scheduled for February 2008. The new, contemporary gallery has been completed and a ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for August 13, 2008. The pavilion gallery is 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) glass addition, which has two levels for which to displayartifacts. 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. A second phase of renovations is scheduled to begin in fall 2008. 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”, 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 a leading figure in the civil rights movement both during.and after his playing career.

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