The Museum of the City of New York celebrates and interprets the city, educating the public about its distinctive character, especially its heritage of diversity, opportunity, and perpetual transformation.
The New York Historical Society is New York's oldest museum. Founded in 1804, the museum has amassed a colossal art collection (with over 1.6 million pieces), a renowned library, and a unique children's museum.
The Patricia D. Klingenstein Library, which is only part of the museum's collection, boasts extraordinary holdings including two million manuscripts, 500,0000 photographs, 400,000 prints and more! Visitors can research and view old menus, sheet music, printed maps, books on New York and American history, and newspapers, just to name some of what's available.
The DiMenna Children's History Museum has a wide range of interactive activities for children 8-13 chronicling 350 years of New York history. What's unique about the museum is that it tells stories of children. Visitors can get an inside look into the early lives of such Americans as Alexander Hamilton, James McCune Smith, and Esteban Bellan.
The son of a former slave who bought her freedom, James McCune Smith went on to be one of the most accomplished African Americans of his time. After being denied access to American Universities, he raised money to attend school in Scotland. He then did an internship in Paris, after which he returned to New York and started his own practice. His office was on West Broadway and he attracted a clientele of many races and was a well-respected member of the community. He was also a writer, orator, anti-racism activist and college professor.
Originally from Havana, Cuba, Bellan began playing baseball in his home country and then shared his talents during his early years in New York, where he attended Fordham University (then St. John's College). He played as third baseman and was a pioneer among a now long list of professional Latin American baseball players.
Hearing the name Audubon might spark images of nature -- specifically birds. The Historical Society has the largest collection of Audubon's work in the world! Audubon was of French descent, born to Jean Audubon, who was a plantation owner, and his Creole servant, Jeanne Rabin. He was named Jean Rabin at birth, but after the death of his mother, he was sent to France, where he was renamed Audubon and gained certain privileges he did not have access to under his mother's name.
During his abundance of leisure time, he developed an interest in nature and began to draw the world around him, developing a fascination with birds early on. He studied their movements and anatomy very carefully, aspiring to draw them as realistically as possible. To keep him out of the army, his father sent him from Europe to Pennsylvania, and he changed his name to John James Audubon. In 1808 he married Lucy Bakewell.
Cover Photo Credit: Frank B. Schlemmer via Flickr