Museum of the City of New York

Museum of the City of New York, New York

In New York you will find a total of 120 museums with a number of extremely valuable exhibits. One of them is the Museum of the City of New York, which houses an important collection of documents from the history of the city of New York, as well as, for example, an exhibition of old children’s toys.

The creation of this museum was decided in 1923, because New York, as one of the few large cities, did not yet have a museum documenting its history. Today, the Museum of the City of New York (abbreviated as MCNY) contains around 1.5 million exhibits dating from Dutch colonial times to the present day.

In this fascinating place you will find seemingly unrelated exhibits such as toys, furniture, silver, theater, prints, paintings or fire protection items. There are also unusual exhibits, such as a charred boom from a merchant ship that burned off the coast of Manhattan Island in the 17th century.

Originally, the museum was located in Gracie Mansion (now the Mayoral Mansion), but in 1932 it was moved to a neo-Georgian building, where it is still located today. The exhibitions are spread over five floors and are very variable. The first floor is reserved for limited-time exhibitions and there is also a gift shop. It was here that exhibitions such as “Glamour, New York Style”, the photography exhibition “The Destruction of Lower Manhattan” by Danny Lyon, or the “El Barrio” exhibition, bringing visitors closer to Puerto Rican identity in the East Harlem neighborhood, took place.

According to, the Fire Gallery is located on the ground floor, the central theme of which is fire, as can be seen from its name. This unusual exhibit includes paintings, prints, artifacts, antique fire sprinklers, and other miscellaneous exhibits that have some connection to fire. For example, the Big Six fire hydrant from 1851, which belonged to the volunteer fire department that launched the political career of William Marcys Tweed, nicknamed “The Chief”, is unique. On the front panel of the syringe is painted a snarling tiger, which is the symbol of Tammany Hall – a political group within the Democratic Party controlled by Irish immigrants.

It also provides ground-floor space for the City Partners Gallery, where exhibits from individual partner organizations cooperating with this museum and based in New York are located. Quite recently there was an exhibition with the long title “The Mount Sinai Hospital, 1852 – 2002: Extraordinary People, Extraordinary Medicines”.

When you move to the second floor, you can watch a 25-minute multimedia project called “Timesscapes” that traces the growth and development of New York. The film is narrated by the American actor Stanley Tucci. On this floor you will also find a permanent exhibition of cityscapes, which is part of the “Painting the Town” collection. In the next six rooms, a unique exhibition called “Period Alcoves” takes place. The interiors of New York houses from the end of the 17th to the beginning of the 20th century are restored in the individual rooms. At the end of the lobby are located artifacts, paintings and models dedicated to New York’s maritime history.

The third floor is home to the popular “New York Toy Stories” toy exhibit, which features a collection of dollhouses and furniture dating from 1769 to the present day. The biggest point of pride is the dollhouse built by Carrie Stettheimer in the 1920s. In its tiny interior, you can see an art gallery with miniature paintings by Marcel Duchamp and other artists from the era of the New York avant-garde scene. Other exhibitions that take place on this floor are mostly full of period costumes and photographs – most recently there was the “Broadway” exhibition describing the history of American theatre.

The fourth floor is closed to the public, so head straight to the fifth floor to see the Rockefeller Rooms. These are the rooms, and above all, the magnificent luxurious bedroom of John D. Rockefeller Sr., dating from the 1880s. This bedroom was originally located in a house on West 54th Street. However, visitors are not only looking at the furniture here, but also such details as wooden furniture with floral inlays, armchairs covered with red damask and even a “Turkish corner”. Nevertheless, these rooms do not seem particularly flamboyant, as we might expect from this prominent and wealthy businessman.

The furniture of the New York carpenter Duncan Phyf, or the loincloth of the famous stripper, gypsy Rose Lee, who embroidered her name on it with silk thread, are among the interesting exhibits that will interest most visitors. Also noteworthy is the Currier & Ives print collection and photo archive, which includes the Jacob Riis Collection. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across one of the museum’s biggest and most closely guarded treasures that aren’t on display very often. For example, a lock of George Washington’s hair, the shoes of the dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, or the classic Barbie doll.

Museum of the City of New York

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