Illustration by Marissa Martonyi
Latest Installation in Museum’s Centennial Programming Showcases Rare and Unique Objects From the Collection
Opens October 13, 2023
Step into a world where a stained-glass masterpiece by Richard Morris Hunt, a mouthguard used by boxer Joe Louis, a 1985 street art painting by Sandra “Lady Pink” Fabara, a golden Tiffany & Company tea and coffee set, and a sequined Halston ensemble worn by Lauren Bacall, all come together to reveal fascinating tales of New York City. Each object represents a unique piece of the city’s vibrant history and all a part of the Museum of the City of New York’s eagerly anticipated new exhibition, People, Place, and Influence: The Collection at 100.
Opening on October 13, 2023, the exhibition—presented as part of the Museum’s Centennial—features a selection of MCNY’s 750,000+ object collection, including many rarely seen items such as a porcelain doll created in 1864, sold to benefit Civil War efforts in Brooklyn—one of the first objects to be accessioned into the MCNY collection—and a never-before-displayed dress worn by opera star, Marian Anderson. With unexpected juxtapositions of media and time periods, the objects spotlight singular moments in New York history, notable creative voices and urban icons, and the extraordinary stories from all five boroughs embedded within the Museum’s collection. The exhibition also invites the public to contribute their thoughts – via in-gallery interactive surveys—about what MCNY should collect in its next
“For the last 100 years, MCNY has wrestled with the ambitious notion that a single institution can capture the history, physical transformation, and diversity of this complex metropolis,” says Lilly Tuttle, curator at the Museum of the City of New York. “People, Place, and Influence is a testament to the enduring themes that have defined our museum over the last 100 years. We are not just showcasing objects; we’re weaving together the incredible narratives of a city that has shaped style, politics, and business on a global scale.”
Highlights from People, Place, and Influence:
- PLACE: Delve into the very essence of New York’s physical transformation through historical artifacts, paintings, photographs, drawings, and maps. Marvel at relics like the massive wrench that helped build the Brooklyn Bridge; a piece of the stage floor from the Metropolitan Opera House; and a Berenice Abbott photograph from her Changing New York series.
- PEOPLE: Explore a rich tapestry of New York’s diverse inhabitants, from the city’s elite to its everyday heroes. Get a glimpse of the past with objects such as a gold engraved cigarette case belonging to Cole Porter; a 1983 photograph of a break-dancer by Martha Cooper; and Gilbert Stuart’s iconic portrait of George Washington.
- PERSONAL STYLE: Immerse yourself in the epicenter of fashion, theater, art, and culture. Learn about the city’s influence on global aesthetics via artifacts such as a recently acquired white suit from the closet of late Bonfire of the Vanities author, Tom Wolfe; an Egyptian headdress, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany; and a Supreme jacket based on graffiti star Lee Quiñones’ drawing that is part of the Museum’s collection.
- PRODUCED BY NEW YORK: Witness NYC’s creative spirit come alive through a diverse range of objects produced and crafted within its confines. Experience the energy and creativity of New York through items like the jar of fairy dust from the 1954 Broadway production of Peter Pan; a seat from the pre-1973 Yankee Stadium; costumes from the original runs of Broadway classics, EVITA and Sound of Music; and a “Rosie the Riveter” summer jumpsuit, by Vera Maxwell.
Also included: A look back at the history and founding of the Museum of the City of New York — its role as the first city museum in the U.S. and the only museum dedicated to telling the story of New York. The exhibition explores MCNY’s mission to capture the essence of New York and its people, through 100 years of exhibitions and the story of its vast collection.
“We’re excited to commemorate our Centennial while visioning the next century of collecting at New York’s flagship city museum,” says Stephanie Wilchfort, the Ronay Menschel Director and President of the Museum of the City of New York. “People, Place, and Influence: The Collection at 100 explores what a collection rooted in New York City has meant over time, and how museum collecting might reflect and respond to our city in the future.”
People, Place, and Influence is the latest exhibition of a year-long centennial celebration marking the Museum’s anniversary and its role in connecting the past, present, and future of the city. The other current and upcoming exhibitions and events tied to MCNY’s 100th year include:
- MCNY 100: Centennial Weekend
The weekend-long celebration of the Museum of the City of New York’s 100th birthday begins on Friday night, as visitors are transported back to the “Roaring Twenties,” the decade the Museum was founded. Attendees are invited to don their best 1920s attire and grab their dancing shoes, for an evening of jazz-age revelry with a modern twist. Then, on Saturday morning, our Keys to the City Scavenger Hunt: On Location in New York kicks off, sending teams out and about the streets of NYC to solve cinematic clues in connection with MCNY’s Centennial exhibition, This Is New York. Also on Saturday, the first hundred visitors through the doors every hour receive a special birthday cupcake–courtesy of Amy’s bread. The day ends with the Scavenger Hunt teams returning to the
Museum to crown and toast the winning team. The weekend culminates with the MCNY 100 Family Day Celebration on Sunday– a full day of activities and creative engagement for all.
Events at the Museum:
- Friday, 10/13 – Tin Pan Alley Hits of the ’20s PLUS Uptown Jazz Speakeasy
- Saturday, 10/14 – Keys to the City Scavenger Hunt: On Location in New York – and in honor of MCNY’s 100th birthday, we’ll be giving away free Amy’s Bread cupcakes to the first 100 people at the Museum every hour.
- Sunday, 10/15 – MCNY Family Day Celebration
New Permanent Installation:
- Stefan Knapp installation
In 2022, the Museum accessioned a portion of Stefan Knapp’s dazzling tiles which were commissioned in 1960 and displayed at Alexander’s flagship store until 1998. In a city associated with an ever-changing skyline of glass and steel, the installation speaks to the ways companies seek to differentiate themselves through architecture, design, and public art as seen in the Chrysler building or Apple store. The Museum has installed the largest extant portion of Knapp’s sculpture on its south terrace, honoring Knapp’s original intention to create public art. The new installation will be on view beginning October 11, 2023. The Museum is grateful to Barbara Jakobson for her visionary donation of these iconic tiles to our collection.
- NYC Through the Decades: A Collaboration with LinkNYC
On view starting Friday, October 13, in honor of the Museum’s Birthday Weekend, selections from the Museum’s collection will be featured on LinkNYC kiosk screens throughout the five boroughs in a new collaboration. NYC Through the Decades highlights images from each decade of the Museum’s tenure, 1920–2020 and includes historic photography studios such as the Wurts Brothers, as well as modern artists like Sally Davies, Joseph Maida, and Harvey Wang.
- New York on Film: Decade by Decade, a monthly film and speaker series featuring studio, independent, and documentary films reflecting what was going on in NYC at the time they were made. Curated by film programmer Jessica Green, the series offers a journey through New York City, decade by decade, over the last century. The full schedule and lineup here.
- This Is New York: 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture – an interactive and sweeping exhibition examining what NYC has meant to people, including artists, writers, and other creators who have been inspired by the city. The exhibition is on view through June 21, 2024.
- Byzantine Bembé: New York by Manny Vega, a retrospective exhibition honoring the visual storytelling of El Barrio’s own artist and mosaicist, New York City-based artist Manny Vega. Opening December 8, 2023.
- CAMOC Annual Conference 2023 – Museum of the City of New York will host The International Council of Museums’ (ICOM) annual International Committee for the Collections and Activities of Museums of Cities (CAMOC) conference on October 16-18. This year’s theme is “Changing Cities / Changing Museums,” and the program will feature presenters from over 30 countries, across five continents. Topics for the sessions include how museums intersect with contemporary urban issues such as climate change, migration, housing, and movements for racial and social justice.
People, Place, and Influence: The Collection at 100 was curated by Lilly Tuttle and designed by Marissa Martonyi. Susan Gail Johnson served as contributing curator.
People, Place, and Influence: The Collection at 100 is made possible in part by Mrs. William T. Comfort, the Havemeyer Family, Stanford and Sandra Ladner, Leon Levy Foundation, and Daryl B. Uber. For a full list of supporters of MCNY’s centennial year, please visit our website.
ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK
Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023, the Museum of the City of New York fosters an understanding of the distinctive nature of urban life in the world’s most influential metropolis. Winner of “Best Museum” in Time Out New York’s “Best of the City 2021” and multiple American Alliance of Museums (AAM) awards, MCNY engages visitors by celebrating, documenting, and interpreting the city’s past, present, and future. To connect with the Museum’s award-winning digital content, visit www.mcny.org, or follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @MuseumofCityNY and on Facebook at Facebook.com/MuseumofCityNY.
1 Cupcake giveaway valid only for those who arrive in person each hour to purchase a ticket or redeem their online ticket. Limit one cupcake per person.