New York Historical Society

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by zabelle on June 23, 2005

This is one of the best $10 you will ever spend. Their motto, "Making History for 200 years" says it all. Floors one and two are dedicated to changing temporary exhibits. We were lucky enough to be visiting during two really great ones on the First Ladies. First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image and First Ladies of New York and the Nation. Both of these exhibits are ending in June, so what will be offered after these I am not sure, but if these are any indication, you won’t be disappointed.

After visiting any temporary exhibit offered, stop by the information booth, pick up an audioguide, and head for the fourth floor. This is where the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture is located. This is not your average acoustiguide; among the narrators are Walter Cronkite, Barbara Walters, and former New York Mayor Dinkins.

The Luce Collection runs the gamut from outstanding colonial furniture to a phenomenal collection of Tiffany lighting. There are four milestones

from the early 1800s that tell you how far to New York City and how far to the town hall. Miles stones also set the postage rate, as rates were charged from one marker to another. These mile markers were also the forerunners of our present day billboards. Businesses would advertise on them. George Washington is well represented in the collection;

you can see a chair made from wood that formerly was his residence on Cherry St. You can also see the wrought-iron railing that he leaned on as he made his first address to the people of New York at Federal Hall after his election. Four of the desks used by Representatives at Federal Hall are also part of the collection.

Some of the collection is beautiful: art glass, milk glass, porcelain and stoneware. Other items are just bizarre, like Gouverneur Morris’ wooden leg. Mr. Morris was the second president of the New York Historical Society.

You will be stunned into silence by their immense silver collection.

There are cases after case of gorgeous items. Step into what looks like a portico and spend the next six minutes finding out about the items on display. You will hear the provenance of the items, how they happened to end up here at the Historical Society.

Allow several hours to do this museum justice. If you are hungry, they offer a history buffet on the lower level, and there is a fine gift store to tempt you.

New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, New York, 10023
+1 212 873 3400

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