Talk about variety. A seat from the old Yankee Stadium is on display next to a chair from renowned furniture maker Duncan Phyfe. There’s a jar of fairy dust from the original Broadway “Peter Pan,” Mary Martin, who also gifted the dress she wore when she played Maria in the original Broadway production of “The Sound of Music.”
These are just a few of the finds in the Museum of the City of New York’s vast collection of more than 750,000 items. A new exhibition, called “People, Place and Influence: The Collection at 100,” looks back at 100 years of the museum.
What You Need To Know
- “People, Place and Influence: The Collection at 100” is a new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York
- The Museum is located in East Harlem, at East 103rd Street and Fifth Avenue on the Museum Mile. There are 750,000 items in the museum’s collection
- The exhibition features items like fashion, decorative art, ephemera and art dating back to the 1600s
“There’s just this huge array of kind of deep pockets of information, because the city contains just so much material,” said Lilly Tuttle, who curated the exhibition.
The exhibition explores the origins of the very first city museum in the United States, founded at a time in the 1920s when the city was undergoing tremendous change.
“Buildings were being torn down. These old Gilded Age Victorian mansions were being torn down. People were downsizing, moving into apartments, moving out of the city. At the same time, the city had been transformed by record immigration, and just the demographics of the city had changed a lot,” said Tuttle, who added that with that change came the impetus to build a museum to capture the city’s history and collect a vision of New York.
“Since we are not a historical society, what we are really interested in is kind of the past, present and future of the city,” Tuttle said.
There is a behind-the-scenes look at how the museum takes care of the massive collection. On view are highlights like a giant wrench used in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, pioneering opera singer Marian Anderson’s emerald green concert gown, and a stickball bat, representing the games city kids have played over the years. Visitors are invited to use iPads to offer suggestions on the museum’s future growth.
“We really need to bring our collection much more into the contemporary city, the five borough city, and a much, much, much more diverse representation of New York City,” said Tuttle, who noted that the museum would like to grow its collection, but wants to be thoughtful about it.
Plan your visit on the museum’s website.