Photo by Max Touhey / NYPL

The footage by NYC company Sky Tech One captures the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building as it has never been seen before in its 110 year history

It also provides a sneak peek of the Library’s Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures, a free exhibition opening on Friday, September 24 featuring over 250 powerful objects from the Library’s research collections

The New York Public Library has released dramatic new footage of its iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street to give a sneak peek of its new permanent exhibition, the Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures.

Video by Sky Tech One / NYPL

The exhibition — opening this Friday, September 24 — features over 250 powerful objects spanning 4,000 years from the institution’s renowned research collections, exploring subjects such as US and NYC history, the performing arts, fine arts, childhood and children’s literature, the history of the written word, and classic literature.

Timed tickets and more information are available at nypl.org/treasures

The new footage was shot by NYC company Sky Tech One using an FPV drone, and captures exterior and interior angles never before seen in the 110-year history of the Library’s central building. It begins outside the library with close up shots of the Fifth Avenue facade and one of the famous lions (Fortitude), then flies through the front door, through Astor Hall, into Gottesman Hall, where it showcases the renovated exhibition space and the new exhibition. It ends with a shot of the first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence to feature the signers, printed by Mary Goddard. The footage was shot by pilot Justin Namon, with drone technician Rob McEnaney. 

A longer version of the film, showcasing the entire building including the famous Rose Main Reading Room on the third floor, will be released at a later date.

“One of the goals of the exhibition is to encourage critical thinking, curiosity, and a deeper understanding of history and the world around us, a key part of the mission of The New York Public Library, and any public library” said Declan Kiely, the Library’s Director of Special Collections and Exhibitions, who led a team of research staff that curated the exhibition. “We are inviting visitors to explore the past and the present through these objects and from new angles. So it seems appropriate to showcase the exhibition from a completely new angle, as this iconic building has never been seen before.”  

“It was an honor to film the largest and most iconic branch of the NYPL,” said Victor Chu, director of the shoot and founder, owner, and executive producer of Sky Tech One. “When we flew, I realized that the building and rooms we were filming had never been filmed like that before. It was such a surreal experience seeing the rows of desks and chairs zoom by and then seeing the view from high above. It was incredible to integrate modern technology and history in this way. It was a dream come true for me, for our pilot, and for the entire team.” 

Sky Tech One also shot drone footage of the Library’s central circulating branch across the street from the iconic central building: the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library, which opened in June 2021 following a complete transformation. 

Video by Sky Tech One / NYPL

Highlights of the new exhibition—made possible with a generous $12 million gift from philanthropist Dr. Leonard Polonsky CBE—include:

  • Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence—an early example of “tracked changes,” with Jefferson underlining passages, including a whole paragraph condemning the slave trade, that were removed in the final ratified document
  • An original copy of the Bill of Rights, featuring 12 amendments (two were never ratified)
  • Charles Dickens’s writing desk, chair, and paper knife (the handle of which is made from the paw of his beloved, deceased cat Bob), and his personal copy of A Christmas Carol with his handwritten notes for public readings
  • The Gutenberg Bible, printed in 1455—James Lenox’s copy, the first to be brought to the Americas
  • The Hunt-Lenox Globe—one of the earliest surviving terrestrial globes, one of only two known Renaissance-era maps or globes to bear the motto Hic Sunt Dracones (“Here be dragons”), and one of the earliest cartographic depictions of the Americas 
  • The only surviving copy of a letter from Christopher Columbus to King Ferdinand’s court announcing his “discovery” and “claiming” the Americas
  • The stuffed animals that belonged to the real-life Christopher Robin and inspired the Winnie-the-Pooh stories
  • Virginia Woolf’s walking stick, as well as a letter from her husband Leonard Woolf to her longtime lover Vita Sackville-West documenting its discovery following her suicide
  • The Negro Motorist Green-Book, which gave Black travelers tips on safe places to stay and eat in the United States
  • One of our 6 Shakespeare First Folios
  • A small, bronze model of pioneering sculptor and educator Augusta Savage’s Lift Every Voice and Sing (also known as The Harp), an important, landmark sculpture that debuted at the 1939 World’s Fair
  • Manuscript page of Maya Angelou’s poem I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
  • Manuscript page of Tom Wolfe’s novel The Bonfire of the Vanities 
  • A 1773 poetry collection by Phillis Wheatley, the first Black author of a published book of poetry, written during her enslavement
  • George Washington’s handwritten Farewell Address, based on Hamilton’s draft (which is also in our collection and will be featured in a future Treasures exhibition rotation)
  • A page of Malcolm X’s unpublished autobiography chapter “The Negro,” as well as his briefcase
  • A manuscript draft fragment of Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication on the Rights of Woman, and first edition published in 1792 
  • A selection of cuneiform tablets, 3rd–2nd millennia BCE
  • 13th-century edition of the Life of the Prophet (Siyer-i Nebi), considered the most complete visual portrait of the life of Muḥammad in existence
  • The set model for the Off Broadway production of In The Heights  
  • A copy of the formal invitation to Edith Wharton’s wedding 
  • James Baldwin’s handwritten open letter to activist Angela Davis, who was arrested (and eventually acquitted) essentially for being an outspoken civil right activist, as well as a copy of his speech “The Negro Novel”
  • Charlotte Brontë’s traveling writing desk
  • Manuscripts and sheet music by Bob Dylan, Dizzy Gillespie, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig van Beethoven (as well as a lock of his hair)
  • Jack Kerouac’s proposed cover design for On the Road
  • First edition sheet music of “The Star Spangled Banner,” complete with the typo “A Pariotic Song”
  • The 1811 Commissioners’ Map and Survey of Manhattan Island—a preliminary grid plan for the city’s future growth
  • Artwork by Henri Matisse, Édouard Manet, Andy Warhol, Faith Ringgold, Romare Bearden, and Edward Hopper
  • Photographs by Diane Arbus, Chuck Stewart, Berenice Abbott, and Lewis Wickes Hine
  • Joseph-Siffréde Duplessis’s life portrait of Benjamin Franklin that is the basis for the portrait that appears on the $100 bill

About The New York Public Library

For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and remains the most visited civic institution in the City. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at www.nypl.org. To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at nypl.org/support.