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Founded in 1804, the New York Historical Society was New York City’s very first museum. Over the past two centuries since its founding, the NYHS has worked to make the history of New York City accessible to everyone. Each year, the Society features an array of exhibitions, public classes, and programs and sponsors various research projects, all designed to connect the past with the present. Here are a few highlights from the coming season’s programming, which features topics to intrigue visitors of all ages:
The Hirschfeld Century: The Art of Al Hirschfeld (Through October 12, 2015)
The astoundingly prolific artist and caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, whose uncannily accurate pen strokes captured the expressions and features of celebrities for decades, will be celebrated in this new NYHS exhibition of more than 100 of his original drawings. Known for his black and white sketches with swooping, exaggerated lines, Hirschfeld became nearly as famous as many of the people he sketched. “The Hirschfeld Century” covers over nine decades of his work to show how his style evolved over the years as design and illustration also changed with the times. In addition to the drawings themselves, a multimedia exhibition primarily concentrated on Hirschfeld’s 70-plus years as an illustrator for The New York Times will also be featured. Such an all-encompassing exhibition on the work of an artist as prolific and influential as Hirschfeld is a distinct rarity and a definite must-see.
Picasso’s Le Tricorne (Ongoing)
One of the newest and most impressive additions to the collections at the NYHS is Picasso’s Le Tricorne. Known as the very first work by the legendary Spanish artist, Le Tricorne is a twenty-square-foot curtain Picasso painted for a two-act ballet in 1919. The massive piece was acquired and restored by the NYHS and is displayed alongside other works of the period in order to help contextualize this piece within the birth of Modernism. Le Tricorne, which depicts spectators enjoying themselves as they gaze down upon an arena, achieves the meta effect of conjuring a “scene within a scene.” This rarely displayed treasure is well worth a visit to the NYHS.
Superheroes in Gotham (October 9, 2015-February 1, 2016)
It’s easy to forget that many of the superhero characters who now star in huge Hollywood productions began humbly as the drawings of a small group of New York illustrators. The 1930s saw the dawn of the comic book, inexpensively printed serials that catered primarily to kids. Decades later, comic books have not only spawned huge franchises, they’ve become collectible printed matter in their own right. “Superheroes in Gotham” will explore the history of comics as a popular printed form of art while highlighting the superheroes that went on to conquer the world of entertainment, from toys to movies and animated blockbusters.
Summer Scavenger Hunts
Every day during the summer, the NYHS hosts a scavenger hunt throughout its museum and the DiMenna Children’s History Museum. The events send children around the museum (in a reasonably organized fashion) to experience all of the history on display there and engage with its contents in original ways. The scavenger hunts offer a great way to get kids more interested in learning about the history of New York and the US as they whisk youngsters through various periods of time, assigning different tasks to them in each section to keep them engaged at every turn.
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