Amazing Kids! Magazine

New-York Historical Society

By Paul Ngu, Amazing Kids Adventures and Global Village Editor

The New-York Historical Society is home to New York City’s oldest museum and one of the most fascinating children’s museum in New York. On my recent visit there, I was able to explore artwork, sculptures, and artifacts that pay homage to not only New York, but the distinctive history of America.

Many of the historical collections explore pertinent themes relating to New York and American history. In the museum’s permanent collection, Portraits of the City, I viewed Victor Perelli’s 1940 painting of the Empire State Building. At first glance, the work is straight-forward and clear; the artist attempts to portray the Empire State Building as a looming figure amid the backdrop of the city. As I soon began to realize, however, each artwork at the N-YHS held a
particular significance to the history of America. Perelli’s paintingof the Empire State Building was completed during the Great Depression, a period when many of our cultural pioneers—musicians, writers, and artists—struggled to justify their work in a time of financial crisis. With the support of President Roosevelt’s federal program, the Works Progress Administration, artists such as Victor Perelli were able to complete government-supported projects. Perelli’s
Empire State Building pays tribute to the greatness of New York City, an unwavering sign of allegiance to the city as it suffered financial downfalls and crises.

The many and varied exhibitions of N-YHS aim to portray the many facets of New York City and America. The photographic collection of artist Camilo José Vergara offers a distinct documentation of Harlem, a dynamic neighborhood in New York City that was the birthplace of
many of the civil-rights movements. A sampling of the Tiffany lamps in the museum tell of the progression of women in the workforce, particularly of Clara Driscoll, whose artistic skills contributed to the design and production of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s eminent lamps, mosaics, and windows. The acquired Audubon collection paints a story of James Audubon and his life as an illegitimate French son who escaped conscription into Napoleon’s army and became America’s pioneer in wildlife artistry and conservation.

For younger children, the N-YHS offers the DiMenna’s Children History Museum. The first of its kind in New York, the children’s museum provides a fun and interactive environment for kids and their parents to explore the history of New York and America. Through games, story readings, and character pavillons, youngsters are able to learn more about American greats as Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, and Esteban Bellán, the first Latino baseball player to play professional in America.

The recent addition of the Children’s History Museums means that the New-York Historical Society now offers something for adults and children. As the name of the historical society suggests, the museum strives to focus on New York based history. However, the multitude of objects, drawings, paintings, and sculptures provide a wide variety of American history and themes to learn about. Those who have the chance to visit New York should make every effort to make a trip to the N-YHS, a uniquely New York find.