The British Library Exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, to open at the New-York Historical Society in October 2018

The British Library Is Bringing A Major Exhibition To The U.S. For The First Time

Harry Potter: A History Of Magic Will Be On View At The British Library In London, October 20, 2017 – February 28, 2018

The British Library and the New-York Historical Society are delighted to announce that Harry Potter: A History of Magic will open at the New-York Historical Society in October 2018, following its run at the British Library in London from October 20, 2017 – February 28, 2018.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic

The British Library Exhibition, Harry Potter: A History of Magic, to open at the New-York Historical Society in October 2018

The exhibition’s New York opening marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the U.S. by Scholastic, following the 20th-anniversary celebrations of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the U.K. in 2017.

Ahead of the U.K. opening in London, Harry Potter: A History of Magic has already sold over 25,000 tickets—the highest amount of advance tickets ever sold for a British Library exhibition. Tickets are available to buy from the British Library website.

The first book in the series of Harry Potter novels, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, was originally published by Bloomsbury in 1997. Since then Bloomsbury has published all seven of the Harry Potter novels in children’s and adult editions, three charity books―Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages and The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and the ILLUSTRATED EDITION of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Bloomsbury is also the publishers for the physical audiobooks of the entire series.

The exhibition unveils rare books, manuscripts, and magical objects from the British Library’s collection, capturing the traditions of folklore and magic at the heart of the Harry Potter stories. Exploring the subjects studied at Hogwarts, the exhibition includes original drafts and drawings by J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter illustrator Jim Kay, going on display for the first time.

As it travels from London to New York, the exhibition will evolve to include U.S.-specific artifacts from New-York Historical’s collection and items from U.S. Harry Potter publisher Scholastic’s collection.

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research, and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library’s collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilization and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website―www.bl.UK ―every year where they can view up to 4 million digitized collection items and over 40 million pages. (See more at: www.bl.uk.) Continue reading

Celebrate The Holiday Season At The New-York Historical Society With the Annual Classic Toys And Trains Extravaganza

Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection On View Through February 26, 2017

Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection returns to the New-York Historical Society this holiday season to delight and inspire children of all ages. On view now through February 26, 2017, this vibrant and sweeping display of spectacular antique toy trains, toys, and scenic elements celebrates the beauty and allure of toys from a bygone era. Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection is sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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A 360‐degree mountainous landscape showcases toy trains, miniature figures, and model buildings evoking the 1890s. The Jerni Collection, New‐York Historical Society

Holiday Express: Trains and Toys from the Jerni Collection is curated by Mike Thornton, associate curator of material culture at the New-York Historical Society. The display was designed by Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership (LHSA+DP), an integrated architecture and exhibit design firm that also designed New-York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum. Other consultants for Holiday Express include T W TrainWorx, a nationally recognized model train specialist and designer of custom toy train layouts; and exhibition media producers Batwin + Robin, renowned “media storytellers” with more than 20 years of experience in the theater, museums, and other venues.

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A crawl‐through space leading to a popup semisphere allows children to get an up‐close‐and‐personal view of the display, suggesting an early 20th century toy department. The Jerni Collection, New‐York Historical Society

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R. Bliss Co. U.S. Cruiser, 1906. The Jerni Collection, New‐York Historical Society

Holiday Express unfolds over a broad swath of New-York Historical’s first floor, featuring 300 pieces from the Jerni Collection that transform the space into a magical wonderland. Theatrical lighting, an ambient audio “soundscape,” and other visual effects immerse visitors in an enchanting holiday experience. The exhibition begins at the West 77th Street entrance, where trains appear to roar through the Museum with the help of four large-scale multimedia screens. A 360-degree mountainous landscape, on view in the Judith and Howard Berkowitz Sculpture Court, showcases toy trains, miniature figures, and model buildings evoking the 1890s. Continue reading

New-York Historical Society Exhibition To Tell The Remarkable Story Of Early Jewish Participation In The Cultural, Social, And Political Development Of The New World

Exhibit Includes Recently Recovered Manuscripts Relating to Mexican Inquisition Victim Luis de Carvajal to be on Public Display for the First Time

The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World, On View October 28, 2016 – February 26, 2017

This fall, a path-breaking exhibition at the New-York Historical Society (170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024. Phone (212) 873-3400. TTY (212) 873-7489) will examine the story of newcomers to the New World, both Jewish and of Jewish ancestry, who made their way to colonial America and engaged fully in the cultural, social, and political life of the young nation. On view now through to February 26, 2017, The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World will feature more than 170 objects, including rare early portraits, drawings, maps, books, documents, and ritual objects primarily drawn from the Princeton University Jewish American Collection, gift of Mr. Leonard L. Milberg, Class of 1953; and Mr. Leonard L. Milberg’s personal collection.

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Luis de Carvajal the Younger (ca. 1567-1596) Memorias autobiographical manuscripts , ca. 1595, with devotional manuscripts Manuscript leaves, 3 volumes, each stitched into plain wrappers. Courtesy of the Government of Mexico.

In addition to objects from the New-York Historical Society, the exhibition will showcase loans from museums nationwide and abroad. Highlights include two landscape paintings by Sephardic Jew Camille Pissarro, on loan from the National Gallery of Art, depicting St. Thomas—the Caribbean island where the artist was born in 1830—and an important group of six portraits depicting members of the Levy-Franks family, prominent figures in New York City’s 18th-century Jewish community, from the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Establishing vibrant communities in American port cities including New York, Philadelphia, Newport, Savannah, and Charleston, early Jewish settlers adopted American ideals while remaining a distinctive and socially cohesive group, giving birth to a new Jewish American tradition with the stamp of both cultures. This groundbreaking exhibition reveals the extraordinary contributions of 18th- and 19th-century Jewish artists, writers, activists, and others to the development of American culture and politics.

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Suriname map, 1718. Nieuwe Kaart van Suriname vertonende de stromen en land-streken van Suriname, Comowini, Cottica, en Marawini, Amsterdam, 1718. Collection of Leonard L. Milberg.

The First Jewish Americans explores the paths taken by Jews who for centuries fled persecution in Europe—beginning with the little-known but remarkable stories of their experience in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Brazil during the colonial period, and following their journey toward finding freedom and tolerance in the early American Republic,” said Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “We are grateful for the extraordinary collections of Leonard L. Milberg and the partnership of the Princeton University Library, which will allow us to convey to the New York public the fundamental importance of the Jewish people to early American history. We are deeply grateful to Mr. Milberg for his tenacity and hard work in securing the loan of recently recovered Jewish writings from Spanish Colonial Mexico, the earliest extant Jewish manuscripts from that time period.

The First Jewish Americans will showcase, for the first time on public display, the manuscripts relating to Mexican Inquisition victim Luis de Carvajal—considered the earliest extant Jewish books in the New World. These exceptional documents and other materials in the exhibition underscore the long reach of the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions, which followed settlers of Jewish ancestry into the New World, forcing confessions and burning suspected “Judaizers” at the stake in horrific autos-de-fé.

(The New-York Historical Society is grateful to the Government of Mexico, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Culture, and the Consulate General of Mexico in New York, for the loan of Luis de Carvajal‘s manuscripts.)

Exhibition Highlights

The First Jewish Americans will explore the origins of the Jewish diaspora and paths to the New World, Jewish life in American port cities, and the birth of American Judaism in the 18th and early 19th centuries, as well as profile prominent Jewish Americans who made an impact on early American life.

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Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Locket with photo. The Historic New Orleans Collection.

European Jews fleeing persecution and seeking ports of refuge were propelled westward to the distant shores of New World colonies, which offered hope for a new beginning until the infamous Holy Inquisition followed them across the ocean. The exhibition powerfully illustrates this experience through the 1595 autobiography of Luis de Carvajal, a “converso” Jew in Mexico and the nephew of a prominent governor, who was tried by the Inquisition and denounced more than 120 other secretly practicing Jews before he was burned at the stake in 1596.

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Isaac N. Cardozo (1792–1855), A Discourse, Delivered in Charleston, (S.C.) on the 21st of Nov. 1827, before the Reformed Society of Israelites, for Promoting True Principles of Judaism according to Its Purity and Spirit, on Their Third Anniversary. Charleston, 1827. Princeton University Library. Gift of Leonard L. Milberg, Class of 1953, in honor of his grandchildren: Beverly Allison Milberg, Ava Miriam Milberg, Emmett Nathaniel Milberg, William Nathan Milberg, Charles Bennett Milberg, Samantha Eve Shapiro, and Nathan Busky Shapiro.

The recently rediscovered documents, which had gone missing from the National Archives of Mexico more than 75 years ago, will be on view at New-York Historical by special arrangement with the Mexican government before returning to Mexico. Continue reading

New-York Historical Society To Explore The Battle Of Brooklyn, A Pivotal Moment In The American Revolution

This fall, to commemorate the 240th Anniversary of the largest single battle of the American Revolution, the New-York Historical Society will present The Battle of Brooklyn, on view from September 23, 2016 to January 8, 2017. A story of American defeat in the first major armed campaign after the Declaration of Independence, the Battle of Brooklyn took place in August 1776, but does not occupy the same place in history as the more victorious engagements at Bunker Hill or Yorktown. Also known as the Battle of Long Island, the event is seen by some as the biggest missed opportunity for Britain to end the American rebellion and marks a pivotal moment when the fight for American independence teetered on the edge of failure.

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John Trumbull (1756–1843) George Washington (1732–1799), 1780 Metropolitan Museum of Art Bequest of Charles Allen Munn, 1924

The Battle of Brooklyn was a major part of American history that happened right here in our backyards but is often overlooked in stories of the founding of our nation,” said Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “On the surface it could be seen as a moment of defeat, but this exhibition will show the resilience and strength of New Yorkers, who fought bravely and endured occupation of their city before finally becoming independent and free citizens.”

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Bernard Ratzer (active 1756–1776), engraved by Thomas Kitchin (1718–1784), Plan of the City of New York, 1770 New-York Historical Society Library

The Battle of Brooklyn will capture the volatile time when the Continental Congress and the American colonists turned ideas into action and broke their ties with Britain. The year 1776 opened with the publication of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, sparking the call for separation across the colonies; it closed with the publication of his American Crisis, marking the sense of despair among supporters of independence. With more than 100 objects documenting major political and military figures, the dynamic debates over independence, and the artifacts of combat and British occupation, the exhibition will convey the atmosphere of New York City as it faced invasion by a British force that exceeded its own population.

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Thomas Paine (1737–1809) Common Sense, 1776 New-York Historical Society Library

Focusing on the year 1776, The Battle of Brooklyn will be organized chronologically to explore the political and ideological context leading up to the battle, the timeline of the battle itself, and the consequences of its immediate aftermath. The exhibition will open with large portraits of iconic figures George Washington and King George III, followed by profiles of American and British politicians and thinkers on both sides of the conflict. A copy of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, published in early 1776, which drew many to the revolutionary cause, will illustrate the arguments made for separation.

The first section of the exhibition will also examine why the British targeted New York, the second largest colonial city at the time. Maps by John Montresor and Bernard Ratzer will show the city’s geographical advantages, including a deep water port that provided the British navy access to the city and lush farms on Staten Island and Long Island that could keep an army fed. As John Adams explains in his January 1776 letter to George Washington that will be on view, “New York is…a kind of key” that would allow the British to divide the colonies by taking control of the Hudson River.

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United States Continental Congress In Congress, July 4, 1776. A declaration by the representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress assembled. [Declaration of Independence] New York: Printed by Hugh Gaine New-York Historical Society Library

Tensions rose as American forces poured into the city in spring 1776. Documents on view relating to this time will include Washington’s broadside warning residents to evacuate, Solomon Nash’s manuscript diary noting a plot to kill General Washington, and Hugh Gaine’s printing of the Declaration of Independence, all illustrating the mood and consciousness of what was at stake. While some New Yorkers cheered independence, others predicted years of turmoil, shown through drawings, broadsides, almanacs, and orderly books that provide a fuller picture of how the city was affected.

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United States Continental Congress In Congress, July 4, 1776. A declaration by the representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress assembled. [Declaration of Independence] New York: Printed by Hugh Gaine New-York Historical Society Library

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Camp Bed, 1777–1785. Gift of Ernest Livingston McCrackan. New-York Historical Society

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Ridgeway after Alonzo Chappel Lord Stirling at the Battle of Long Island, c.1858 New-York Historical Society Library

The second section of the exhibition will center on the week of the battle itself. An animated media piece on a projection table will dynamically show the order of events, depicting troop movements, the passage of time, and the skillful British maneuver that upended the American defenses and could have finished them for good. A custom-built model of the Vechte farmhouse (today’s Old Stone House in Gowanus) hidden within the projection table will illustrate one of the battle’s most dramatic moments: the outnumbered Maryland regiment fighting on to allow their fellow soldiers time to retreat across Gowanus Creek.

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Hunting shirt, ca. 1776. Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

An American encampment scene filled with weapons, uniforms, and accessories will feature George Washington’s camp cot, a bass drum, and a rare hunting shirt worn by the Pennsylvania riflemen, a style which later became a de facto uniform. A loyalist coat, a British Grenadier’s cap, and a Hessian helmet provide examples of what residents of Staten Island might have seen as the island’s population of approximately 2,000 exploded with the arrival of 34,000 British soldiers and sailors. Maps will also be on view, as topography influenced military strategy tremendously during the battle. Continue reading

New-York Historical Society Presents Vintage Presidential Campaign Memorabilia From The 1960s & Early 1970s

Campaigning for the Presidency, 1960-1972: Selections from the Museum of Democracy On View Through November 27, 2016

Coinciding with the 2016 presidential election, the New-York Historical Society will explore campaign memorabilia and the ephemera of American politics through the shifting styles, rhetoric, and aesthetics of four presidential elections and other political contests in the 1960s and early 1970s. On view August 26 – November 27, 2016, Campaigning for the Presidency, 1960-1972: Selections from the Museum of Democracy will showcase more than 120 objects from the planned Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection, considered one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive collections of political campaign memorabilia.

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Sven Walnum Photograph Collection JFK Campaigning, 1960 John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum

With this year’s presidential election reaching a crescendo, we aim to remind New Yorkers what elections looked like before 24/7 news coverage and social media,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “As [the late] New York Mayor Ed Koch said, campaign memorabilia is ‘the sparkle and glitter of which our campaigns are made’ and that certainly comes through in this exhibition, which illustrates the integral role that ephemera had in American politics. We are pleased to share the Wright Family Collection with our visitors and give a taste of what’s to come in the planned Museum of Democracy.”

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Kennedy-Johnson Campaign Vest and Hat, 1960 The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection

Curated by New-York Historical Society Research Associate Cristian Panaite, the exhibition will feature objects from the presidential campaigns of John F. Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon (1960); Lyndon B. Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater (1964); the three-way contest between Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and George Wallace (1968); and Richard Nixon vs. George McGovern (1972), tracing changes in tone and style of the 1960s and early 1970s and reflecting contemporary developments in campaign strategy.

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Spiro Agnew / Nixon VIP Theater Wind-Up Dancing Doll, ca 1970 The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection

Highlights will include bold posters, paper dresses, dolls and board games, t-shirts, paper and vinyl stickers, lapel pins, buttons, and other ephemera that range in tone from idealistic, to humorous, to scathingly critical. The exhibition will also feature some iconic television commercials from this era when the medium transformed politics, such as the controversial “Peace Little Girl (Daisy)” from 1964, which Johnson’s campaign created to demonstrate the danger of putting Goldwater in charge of the nuclear button. Memorabilia created for other prominent primary candidates of this era, such as Robert F. Kennedy and Nelson Rockefeller, will also be on view.

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LBJ Stetson-Style Plastic Cowboy Hat, ca. 1964 The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection

Focusing on four major presidential campaigns, the exhibition will begin with the 1960 John F. Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon contest, when Kennedy famously beat a sweaty and nervous-looking Nixon in the first live televised debate. Among the objects on view from this campaign will be a vest and hat featuring the slogan “Kennedy is the Remedy,” worn by an usher at the Democratic convention, and an elephant-shaped bobble-head doll wearing a “Nixon for President” sash.

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Barry Goldwater Aftershave, 1964 The Museum of Democracy/Wright Family Collection

The 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson vs. Barry Goldwater campaign proved to be a gold mine for memorabilia. Goldwater’s campaign team seized on “gold” as a theme of many campaign products, producing quirky items such as Gold Water aftershave, “An After Shave for Americans.” Not only was it a play on the candidate’s name, but connecting Goldwater to cleanliness might have been a conservative reaction to “dirty hippies.” Lyndon B. Johnson’s campaign made an effort to promote his all-American, Western rancher image through a hay bale that reads “Johnson Grass Hay From One Good Democrat to Another. Continue reading

New-York Historical Society To Transform Its Fourth Floor With Reinvisioned Collection Highlights Display And Unprecedented New Women’s History Center

Renowned Collection of Tiffany Lamps to be Displayed in a Dazzling Glass Gallery Center for the Study of Women’s History is First of Its Kind for a U.S. Museum Permanent Collection Displays to Reimagine Historical Artifacts in Bold New Ways

The New-York Historical Society today shared plans for the transformation of the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture on the fourth floor of its home on Central Park West, which will be redesigned to feature highlights from its outstanding collection as never before, as well as a groundbreaking new center for scholarship focused on women’s history. The centerpiece of the re-imagined fourth floor will be New-York Historical’s preeminent collection of Tiffany lamps, displayed in a sparkling glass gallery designed by architect Eva Jiřičná. The new Center for the Study of Women’s History will be a permanent space devoted to women’s history exhibitions and scholarship—the first of its kind in a U.S. museum. A re-imagined display of the permanent collection will increase public access and engagement with New-York Historical’s holdings and bring new artifacts to light. Renovation of the fourth floor has begun and the space is scheduled to open to the public in early 2017.

The new fourth floor was inspired in part by New-York Historical’s discovery of the secret history of Clara Driscoll and the ‘Tiffany Girls,’ who designed and created many iconic Tiffany lampshades, and whose overlooked contributions offer a window into the history of American women, labor and a changing New York in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, stories that New-York Historical is uniquely capable of sharing with the world and that will come together in this exciting new space,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society.

The renovated, refurbished, and re-imagined fourth floor will be a transformative next chapter in the extraordinary and ever-expanding story of the New-York Historical Society, New York’s first museum,” said Pam B. Schafler, Chairman of the Board of the New-York Historical Society.

Tiffany Gallery
The Tiffany Gallery will be a sparkling glass showcase for the Museum’s renowned collection of lamps by Tiffany Studios, which is among the world’s best in range and quality. Designed by architect Eva Jiřičná in her first major New York project, the 3,000-square-foot, two-story space will feature a dramatic glass staircase. One hundred Tiffany lamps will be on display in the darkened gallery, dramatically lit to allow visitors to experience the glowing lamps as they were intended.

Curated by Margaret K. Hofer, Vice President and Museum Director of the New-York Historical Society, highlights on view will include a Wisteria lamp (ca. 1901), made with nearly 2,000 pieces of glass to portray the cascading blooms; a Magnolia shade (ca. 1910–13), with “drapery” glass that was folded while still molten to capture the fleshy texture of the blossoms; a Cobweb shade on a Narcissus mosaic base (ca. 1902), designed during a period of transition from fuel to electricity and depicting spider webs among the branches of an apple blossom tree; and a Dragonfly shade (ca. 1900–06), one of Tiffany Studios’ most popular designs, featuring dragonflies with brass filigree wings and gleaming glass, jewel eyes.

Special attention will be given to the recently discovered role of Clara Driscoll and her Women’s Glasscutting Department, the actual designers and creators of many popular Tiffany shades, including the Wisteria and Dragonfly. Honoring Driscoll and her team of “Tiffany Girls,” who remained hidden in Louis Tiffany’s shadow until the discovery of Driscoll’s correspondence in 2005, the exhibition will provide a powerful connection to the Center for the Study of Women’s History, also on the fourth floor. The installation will also explore the history of Tiffany Studios, their marketing of luxury goods, the various styles of lighting produced by the firm, and the significant impact of the advent of electricity on the lives of Americans at the turn of the century.

The mezzanine level of the Tiffany Gallery will delve deeper into the making of Tiffany lampshades, from preliminary sketches and design cartoons, to the selection and cutting of glass. The “Design-a-Lamp” interactive will allow visitors to select glass for a Dragonfly shade and see the immediate results on a three-dimensional illuminated model. Visitors will also learn about trademark details that distinguish original Tiffany creations from contemporary Tiffany-style lamps.

Center for the Study of Women’s History
The Center for the Study of Women’s History will be the first of its kind in a U.S. museum to focus on women’s history on a permanent basis, presenting special exhibitions, public and scholarly programs, and an immersive multimedia film. Organized and curated by Valerie Paley, Vice President and Chief Historian of the New-York Historical Society, the Center will feature two to three exhibitions annually in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, alternating between historical and art-focused installations. Planned exhibitions include an inaugural show on 18th century American women’s role in helping to create the first modern democracy, and an exhibition that focuses on women and the 19th century Progressive movement. A digital interactive wall, Women’s Voices, will explore and contemplate women’s words and actions, and invite visitors to participate in the dialogue by sharing their own stories. Continue reading

HOLY HISTORY BATMAN! Superheroes Take Over The New-York Historical Society

Superheroes in Gotham, On View October 9, 2015 – February 21, 2016

COMIC BOOK SUPERHEROES ARE A PART OF OUR DAILY LIVES. They engage our imaginations on the pages of comic books, television and movie screens, as well as the Broadway stage and in the virtual world of gaming. Contemporary literature and art reference them; adults and children alike delight in donning superhero t-shirts, caps, and sneakers.

Since their introduction in the late 1930s, superheroes have been powerful role models, inspirational and enviable. Based on mythological archetypes, they reflect, respond to, and offer ways to navigate the twists and turns of modern life. Comic books are a great American art form, a cultural phenomenon born in New York City that now extends around the globe.SuperheroesInGothamExhibitPage (1)

This fall, the New-York Historical Society will share the untold history of comic books in Superheroes in Gotham. Superheroes in Gotham will tell the story of the birth of comic book superheroes in New York City; the leap of comic book superheroes from the page into radio, television, and film; the role of fandom, including the yearly mega event known as New York Comic Con; and the ways in which comic book superheroes, created in the late 1930s through the 1960s, have inspired and influenced the work of contemporary comic book artists, cartoonists, and painters in New York City. On view October 9, 2015 through February 21, 2016, Superheroes in Gotham will focus on our culture’s most legendary superheroes – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Spider-Man and Iron Man – as well as more recent characters inspired by the contemporary city. Beyond the characters, Superheroes in Gotham will consider the importance of New York as a creative force behind a uniquely American mythology.

The exhibition is curated by the New-York Historical Society’s Debra Schmidt Bach, Associate Curator of Decorative Arts, and Nina Nazionale, Director of Library Operations. Support for Superheroes in Gotham is provided by The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank and The William T. Morris Foundation.

Among the range of material on display will be: a rare comic book featuring Superman’s first appearance (Action Comics No. 1, June 1938), clips from early radio and film adaptations, Philip Pearlstein’s Superman painting (1952), original drawings by Steve Ditko of Spider-Man’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy (No. 15, 1962), a Batmobile made for the Batman television series (1966), a costume from Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark (2011), hip-hip pioneer Darryl McDaniels’ DMC comic book (2014), and his signature fedora.

Comics are a huge cultural force, but few remember their New York roots,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. “Superheroes in Gotham will immerse visitors in the early days of comics and their evolution, so they can learn more about the genesis of their favorite characters, encounter new voices that continue the creative tradition today, and perhaps see aspects of their own neighborhoods imaginatively captured on the page.

Image Credits (left to right): Jerry Siegel (writer) and Joe Shuster (artist), Action Comics (No. 1, June 1938). Published by Detective Comics, Inc., New York. Courtesy of Metropoliscomics.com; Andrew Herman (Federal Art Project), Bowery Restaurant, 1940. The Museum of the City of New York; H.G. Peter, Drawing of Wonder Woman in Costume, ca. 1941. Courtesy of Metropoliscomics.com

Image Credits (left to right): Jerry Siegel (writer) and Joe Shuster (artist), Action Comics (No. 1, June 1938). Published by Detective Comics, Inc., New York. Courtesy of Metropoliscomics.com; Andrew Herman (Federal Art Project), Bowery Restaurant, 1940. The Museum of the City of New York; H.G. Peter, Drawing of Wonder Woman in Costume, ca. 1941. Courtesy of Metropoliscomics.com


Upon entering the New-York Historical Society’s Central Park West entrance, visitors will be greeted by an original working
Batmobile (1966), one of three cars created for the 1966-68 Batman television series.


The first gallery will trace each character’s origins within the context of their creators and period events. A range of first-issue comic books will be displayed, including Superman’s
Action Comics No. 1 and Batman (No. 1, Spring 1940). During World War II, many superhero stories channeled American concerns about the conflict. In addition, several of their creators also enlisted. Wartime issues of Captain America (1942) and an original drawing (ca. 2000) by Joe Simon—who served in the U.S. Coast Guard— will present Captain America as the ultimate patriotic warrior. Superman was also enlisted, and lent his support in a range of U.S. Army and Navy training materials (ca. 1942-43). A drawing of Wonder Woman in an early version of her patriotic costume by H.G. Peter (ca. 1941) will be shown alongside a “Wonder Woman for President” issue (No. 7, Winter 1943).

Two of Steve Ditko’s original drawings of Spider-Man’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy (No. 15, September 1962) will be displayed alongside a copy of the published issue. Considered Spider-Man’s “birth certificate”, these drawings will be on public view for the first time outside of the Library of Congress. Other Cold War-era artifacts include original cover art for The Invincible Iron Man (No. 1, 1968).

The second gallery will explore how superheroes flew from page to screen decades before they became blockbuster movie franchises. Scripts, audio recordings, animation cels, and cartoon clips will illuminate Superman’s multimedia adaptation less than two years after his comic book debut. One particular clip from the Superman cartoon (1941) will depict the character flying for the first time, rather than leaping as he did in print. After appearing in two film serials in the 1940s, Batman was reimagined in a popular television series (1966-68) and full length film (released in 1966). In addition to an original Batmobile (1966), the exhibition will feature three Batman set paintings by art director Leslie Thomas (ca. 1966-68) and a Catwoman costume (ca. 1966). Clips from the Wonder Woman television series (1975-79), as well as a copy of Ms. magazine’s first issue depicting her at the helm (1972), illuminate Wonder Woman’s development as a second-wave feminist icon.

The third and final gallery will examine the enduring influence of superheroes on a wide range of New York-based artists, cartoonists, contemporary comic book creators, and fans. Known today for his hyperreal nude portraits, the exhibition will feature Philip Pearlstein’s Superman (1952), a proto-pop art painting from his early career. Also featured will be cartoonist Mort Gerberg’s original illustration art for The New Yorker (“Do you have any references besides Batman?”, July 1997) alongside Batman drawings he doodled inside a childhood Hebrew School book (circa 1940). A costume from Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark(2011), the most-expensive production in Broadway history, will also be exhibited.

Superheroes in Gotham will also explore contemporary New York- based superhero comics. A copy of DMC (2014)—which follows the comic book alter-ego of musician Darryl McDaniels in 1980s New York—will be displayed alongside the hip-hop pioneer’s trademark fedora, glasses and Adidas sneakers (worn by the fictional superhero DMC as well) . Also on view will be art from Dean Haspiel’s independent web-based comic books, including the Brooklyn-based Red Hook and a comic book set, in part, during the 2003 blackout. The exhibition will conclude with ephemera from the United States’ first comic convention, which took place in New York in 1964, as well as photographs and posters from recent years.

Public and Family Programs
To celebrate the exhibition’s opening on October 9, the
New-York Historical Society will host a special superhero edition of The Big Quiz Thing trivia game show, as well as special family activities. On October 16, New-York Historical will screen both classic versions of The Mark of Zorro,” starring Tyrone Power (1940) and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (1920, silent), as part of their “Justice in Film” series. On October 31, all ages will be invited to channel their own superpowers at a Family Halloween Party, featuring a supervillain trivia contest, fortune-telling, crafts, scavenger hunts, and trick-or-treating. Farther ahead, Jill Lepore— winner of the New-York Historical Society’s 2015 American History Book Prize—will explore The Secret History of Wonder Woman on January 14, 2016.


The
New-York Historical Society, one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, the museum has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.