New Interactive Permanent Exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York

New Interactive Permanent Exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York

(Filip Wolak Courtesy MCNY)

Museum Mile is home to all sorts of museums about art and culture of the past and present. The Museum of the City of New York is special in that it celebrates the past, present and future of NYC. Today, November 18, the Museum of the City of New York launches its first permanent exhibit, “New York at Its Core,” that unfolds 400 years of this city’s rich history through rare artifacts, historical images and three interactive galleries—“Port City, 1609-1898,” “World City, 1898-2012” and “Future City Lab.”—that deal with the themes of Money, Density, Diversity and Creativity.

I attended a ceremony earlier in the week where Whitney Donhauser, president and director of MCNY, spoke about how this new exhibit allows visitors to virtually interact with iconic New Yorkers who shaped this city. There are kiosks in the “Port City, 1609-1898” gallery where you can learn about important people from history like P.T. Barnum, Alexander Hamilton, Peter Stuyvesant and even a portly pig. Remember, NYC wasn’t always skyscrapers and millions of people… before being colonized by Europeans, this land was inhabited by Native Americans like the Lenape and later became a trading port. I especially loved seeing the small-scale models of the Statue of Liberty and memorabilia from the early days of Coney Island. 

In “World City, 1898-2012,” I enjoyed reading about and seeing memorable moments from this century-plus of progress. From music and clothes from the roaring ‘20s to several clips from the early years of “Sesame Street” to a damaged World Trade Center subway sign from 9/11, history was more than just words on a page—it was right there in front of me.

Every aspect of “New York at Its Core” was equal parts educational and fun and the technology used among the galleries gives you a hands-on way to experience NYC and its five boroughs. In the “Future City Lab,” I spent a good few minutes digitally building an apartment building. The goal was to make it affordable, benefit the environment and house an ideal quantity of people. You have four areas of NYC to chose from for your location, different building materials, what size apartments make up the building, various businesses you can have in the building, vegetation, people in the neighborhood, environmentally-friendly amenities (solar panels and the like) and more. I felt like I was playing something like The Sims, but really I was learning about what factors go into designing future living quarters for this ever-growing city. Kids are going to especially love this gallery, which is fantastic because they are the future of this city.

To celebrate the opening of “New York at Its Core,” the Museum of the City of New York is hosting Gotham Groove—a 32-hour public festival that includes an overnight movie marathon, storytelling, morning yoga, Broadway performers, Gospel performances, a Silent Disco dance party, NYC food trucks and more. This continuous event (Saturday, November 19, 10 am ­– Sunday, November 20, 6 pm) offers FREE ADMISSION (!) to the museum and most of the events—advanced registration is required. Some events are ticketed and do have a cost. Those tickets, as well as advanced registration information, can be found here.

Other current exhibits include “From Teaspoons to Titanic” (through December 18, 2016), “In the South Bronx of America” (through January 8, 2017), “Gay Gotham” (through February 26, 2017) and “Mastering the Metropolis” (through April 23, 2017), among others.

The Museum of the City of New York is located at 1220 Fifth Ave., at 103rd St., and is open daily from 10 am- 6pm.

Part of the "Port City, 1609-1898" gallery (Filip Wolak Courtesy MCNY)

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