Past Exhibitions

The Business of Brooklyn

February 23, 2018 - February 17, 2019

BHS Pierrepont

The Business of Brooklyn: An Exhibition on the Occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Brooklyn Chamber of CommerceIn conjunction with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, BHS presents The Business of Brooklyn, an exhibition exploring the past 100 years of business in the borough. The story spans booming factories, family shops, iconic innovation, and labor struggles. The exhibition showcases images and objects from companies large and small that thrived in Brooklyn, including Domino Sugar, Squibb Pharmaceuticals, Schaefer Beer, Drake Bakeries, Abraham & Straus, Gage & Tollner, and many others. It includes numerous artifacts from the Brooklyn Chamber’s history, including a gavel that the Chamber used to convene meetings in the 1920s, the telephone the Chamber used in its first offices at 75 Livingston Street, and a program for the Chamber’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, which honored entertainer Danny Kaye. It also includes treasures from BHS’s collections, including Eberhard pencil sets, Virginia Dare bottles and glasses, coasters and trays from Brooklyn’s illustrious beer brewing history.

This exhibition is presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in observance of their 100th anniversary.

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

The Means of a Ready Escape: Brooklyn's Prospect Park

July 13, 2017 - February 10, 2019

The Means of a Ready Escape: Brooklyn's Prospect ParkProspect Park has never been simply an escape from the city, but a fundamental part of it. This exhibition highlights the one hundred and fifty year social history of Brooklyn’s backyard. Featuring over one hundred artifacts and documents, it tells the story of the 585 acres of forest, field, and swamp that Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux transformed into an urban oasis, and how the Park has sustained generations of Brooklynites throughout the borough’s many eras of change.

This exhibition is presented in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance, in celebration of the Park's 150th anniversary.

Prospect Park Alliance

Funding for this special exhibition is made possible in part by William Coleman, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, Grace Lyu-Volckhausen, Dino Veronese and Earl Weiner

Until Everyone Has it Made: Jackie Robinson's Legacy

April 6, 2017 – June 17, 2018

Until Everyone Has it Made: Jackie Robinson's Legacy On April 15, 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the professional baseball color line when the Brooklyn Dodgers started him at first base. 70 years later, Brooklyn Historical Society is proud to present a new exhibition celebrating this seminal moment in American history. Featuring a wonderful array of archival materials, photography, programs, and memorabilia, the exhibition tells a story that continues to resonate today.

This exhibition was made possible by:
Corporate Support:
National Grid


Individual Support from Peter O'Malley

Wise Eyes: Still Woke

May 31, 2017 – May 30, 2018

Wise Eyes: Still WokeInspired by the Women’s Marches and the importance of education for their generation, the 2017 Brooklyn Historical Society Teen Council created an exhibition about women of Brooklyn’s past and present who’ve been active catalysts for education and empowerment. The women featured in Wise Eyes: Still Woke did not know one another, lived at different times, and in many ways represent very different worlds within Brooklyn. But to the Teen Council Members, their stories share vital elements that can inspire and galvanize the next generation: they fought for causes larger than themselves — from suffrage to black freedom to equity in higher education; they balanced their families and their careers; they showed courage in the face of imprisonment, violence, and harassment; and they put their personal talents to great use in the public sphere.

2017 Teen Council members
The 2017 Teen Council members

Truman Capote’s Brooklyn: The Lost Photographs of David Attie

July 20, 2016 – January 28, 2018

Truman Capote photo by David AttieIn the spring of 1958 a young photographer named David Attie was led through the streets of Brooklyn Heights and to the Brooklyn waterfront by an unexpected guide—33-year-old Truman Capote. The images Attie took that day were to illustrate Capote’s essay for Holiday magazine about his life in Brooklyn. Decades later, these largely unseen photographs are being exhibited for the first time.

Shifting Perspectives: Photographs of Brooklyn's Waterfront

May 19, 2017 – September 10, 2017

Shifting Perspectives: Photographs of Brooklyn's WaterfrontThis exhibition features the work of two dozen photographers whose images crisscross the Brooklyn shoreline, from Newtown Creek to Jamaica Bay. By picturing decades of Brooklyn’s coastal scenery, including its changing industrial and postindustrial environment, the exhibition presents dramatic panoramic vistas; spectacular aerial views; glimpses of popular recreational attractions, particularly in nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park and at Coney Island; and other scenes, including those impacted by natural or manmade forces, as well as by gentrification.

Curated by guest curator Marilyn Symmes, featured photographers include: Berenice Abbott; David Attie; Rudy Burckhardt; Bruce Davidson; Morris Engel; Mitch Epstein; Lucille Fornasieri Gold; Anders Goldfarb; Stanley Greenberg; Chester Higgins, Jr.; Michael Kenna; Nathan Kensinger; Shai Kremer; Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao; John Matturri; Robin Michals; Jeffrey Milstein; Garry Pierre-Pierre; Matthew Pillsbury; Paul Raphaelson; Lynn Saville; Julienne Schaer; Harvey Stein; Todd Webb; Jackie Weisberg.

Sewers: What's Up Down There?

June 9, 2015 – March 12, 2017

Brooklyn Sewers: What's Up Down There?BHS is pleased to be opening an exhibition that explores one of Brooklyn's oldest and most extensive infrastructure projects: its sewer system. This exhibition tells the story of the creation of the Brooklyn sewer system through a historical look at four corners of Kings County: Flatlands, Bushwick, Coney Island and Fort Greene. Visitors are invited to look beneath the surface into the problems, challenges, and issues that each of these neighborhoods faced in the creation of the sewer system, and the factors that made an integrated municipal system for sewerage an absolute necessity. The exhibition was curated by a team of teen curators who participated in BHS's free afterschool museum studies program known as Exhibition Laboratory, or Ex Lab.

Downtown Brooklyn Legends Pop-up Gallery

December 9 – December 31, 2016

Downtown Brooklyn Legends Pop-up GalleryThey say you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been. No matter the era, Downtown Brooklyn has always been at the center of Brooklyn’s renaissance, as it evolved from a turn-of-the-century shopping destination to a mecca for hip hop culture, and now, the most famous borough in the world. This Downtown Brooklyn Legends Popup Gallery helps to tell the rich history of the area in a way that speaks to people’s hearts as much as their minds. The hardworking Brooklynites of the past made this borough what it is today, and through the work of these 21 artists, we are telling key stories as Brooklyn speeds into the future. Brought to you by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership in collaboration with Grumpy Bert Gallery and the Brooklyn Historical Society.

Hidden in Plain Sight: Portraits of Hunger in NYC

Hidden in Plain SightNovember 5, 2015 - November 13, 2016

Brooklyn-based photojournalist Joey O'Loughlin has spent over two years documenting Food Bank For New York City member agencies, including soup kitchens and food pantries throughout the five boroughs. She has focused her lens on workers, clients, recipients, distribution and meals. O'Loughlin's beautiful and vivid images tell compelling stories about hunger today.


This exhibition was presented in partnership with:

 Food Bank For New York City

Additional support provided by:

Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Trust

Preserving Historic Brooklyn Heights

Preserving Historic Brooklyn HeightsNovember 23, 2015 - May 29, 2016

On November 23, 1965, the newly established New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Brooklyn Heights as the city’s first historic district. That day of triumph was the culmination of a seven-year battle by Brooklyn Heights residents to save the neighborhood they loved and felt to be under siege. Through objects and archival materials, including hand drawn maps, periodicals, and the National Historic Landmark plaque, Preserving Historic Brooklyn Heights celebrates the 50th anniversary of that historic day.


Photo by Z. Hyman Photography

Personal Correspondents: Photography and Letter Writing in Civil War Brooklyn

April 9, 2015 - June 19, 2016
Cartes de Visite
Between 1861 and 1865, over 30,000 men departed Brooklyn to fight in the American Civil War. They left behind spouses, sweethearts, parents, children, siblings, and friends. Personal Correspondents: Photography and Letter Writing in Civil War Brooklyn examined how these Brooklynites remembered and communicated with each other, and how they chronicled the war on the home front and the battlefield. Featuring evocative letters and photographs from Brooklyn Historical Society's collection, this exhibition brought to life Brooklynites' everyday experiences during one of the nation's most transformative times.

This exhibition was funded, in part, by:New York Council for the Humanities

Personal Correspondents was developed in collaboration with Green-Wood as part of a joint programming initiative commemorating the 150th anniversary of the war's end through exhibitions, educational curricula, and public programming.

Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963

April 7, 2016 – May 20, 2016

We March, We DemandBHS is proud to be one of only 50 venues across the nation to host Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963. One hundred years separate the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington, yet they are profoundly linked together in a larger story of liberty and the American experience. Both were the result of people demanding justice. Both grew out of decades of bold actions, resistance, organization, and vision. In both we take inspiration from those who marched toward freedom. Changing America was created to commemorate these two pivotal achievements on their 150th and 50th anniversaries. It explores their historical context, their accomplishments and limitations, and their impact on the generations that followed.

Image Caption: We March, We Demand.  Courtesy of Library of Congress.

"Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963" is presented by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The exhibition is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is part of NEH’s Bridging Cultures initiative, “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,” which brings four outstanding films on the civil rights movement to communities across the United States (see “Created Equal” encourages communities across the country to revisit and reflect on the long history of civil rights in America.


Exhibition Logos

Brooklyn Americans: Hockey's Forgotten Promise

Brooklyn Americans (c) Scott Rudd PhotographyFew fans are aware that the arrival of the New York Islanders® in Brooklyn was the second time the borough has been home to a National Hockey League team. During the 1941/42 season, a team of NHL players wore a red, white and blue jersey emblazoned with the name the Brooklyn Americans. This exhibition told the history of the Americans, touching upon prohibition, WWII, and the rough and tumble time of professional hockey's earliest days. Brooklyn Americans: Hockey's Forgotten Promise highlighted the origins, the dreams, and the ultimate misfortune of the Borough of Kings' first NHL team.

Photo by Scott Rudd Photography

NHL and the NHL Shield are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. NHL and NHL team marks are the property of the NHL and its teams. All Rights Reserved.

This exhibition was funded with generous support from:

Brooklyn Americans Supporters

Additional funding provided by The Cohen Family, The Ingrassia Family, Jon Ledecky, RXR Realty and Boylan Bottling Co.

BHS programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Gaining Access: The New York City Disability Rights Movement

Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association March, 1946July 1, 2015-October 25, 2015 In celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the passing of the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), this exhibition looked at the growth of the Disabilities Rights Movement in New York City. Chronicling stories of civil disobedience and self-advocacy, Gaining Access charted the history of the modern movement which arose in the early 1960s and illustrated the rise of disability as a demographic and social issue. Accessible transit, building access, curb cuts in sidewalks, and deinstitutionalization of individuals with mental and cognitive disabilities are some of the battlegrounds and hard-won victories described. These were stories of advocates who recognized that they needed to remake the world, so that they might fully participate in it. Their accomplishments included the first legal protections against discrimination, and the creation of the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities. The exhibit featured dozens of historic images, rare video footage, and one-of-a-kind original artifacts from the half century history of the movement. Gaining Access was the first museum exhibition about the Disability Rights Movement in New York City, recounting a history reminiscent of the civil rights struggles waged by other groups of Americans. The exhibit was curated by historian Warren Shaw, and presented in partnership with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities.

For an audio version of the exhibition, click here.

Mapping Brooklyn

Mapping BrooklynA prime impetus for visual artists has been to better understand and interpret the world around them. In contemporary practice, artists observe, collect, explore, interact, depict, and diagram. Cartographers follow similar impulses in seeking to give visual form to geography and to physical space. Mapping Brooklyn juxtaposed the work of contemporary artists working with historic maps, with examples of maps themselves, suggesting the myriad ways that maps can represent, on the one hand, such practical matters as way finding, property ownership, population shifts, and war strategy, and on other, the terrain of the metaphorical, psychological, and personal. In the galleries at both venues, historic maps and contemporary works were in dialogue, suggesting common themes—the desire to explore, chart, and analyze territory—and highlighting the innovative ways that contemporary artists use mapping, cartography, and exploration, to reveal data, ideas, and emotions. 

Left: Map of New York City, Brooklyn, and Vicinity: Showing Surface & Elevated Railroads in Operation and Proposed, G.W. & C.B. Colton, circa 1885; Flat Maps B C-1885.fl; Brooklyn Historical Society. Right: Gail Biederman, From a Motorman, 2015

Brooklyn Remembered: The Watercolors of James Ryder Van Brunt

James Ryder Van BruntThis exhibit presented thirteen watercolors from BHS’s collection by 19th century Brooklyn native James Ryder Van Brunt. Van Brunt was a descendant of Brooklyn’s earliest settlers and a gifted amateur painter who devoted decades to recording neat and colorful views of Dutch homesteads and historic landmarks. His images of these picturesque sites, a number of which had already been demolished, reflected the widespread nostalgia for an agrarian past during a period of rapid change as Brooklyn grew from a collection of villages into a city.

Full Steam Ahead: 200 Years of Ferries in Brooklyn

Full Steam AheadIn 1814, Robert Fulton launched the first steam ferry between Brooklyn and Manhattan, transforming the relationship between the two places and ushering in a period of enormous growth in Brooklyn. To commemorate the 200th anniversary of Fulton's ferry, BHS mined its archives to reveal wonderful details of Brooklyn’s ferry history. Materials on display included paintings of the Union Ferry Company fleet, colorful tickets and timetables, and business records from the early days of steam ferry travel.

Sweet Industries: Refining What We Know

Sweet IndustriesSugar has fueled Brooklyn’s economic growth for over 150 years. Sweet Industries revealed stories of this delicious commodity and its associated businesses with a focus on two companies: Domino Sugar Corporation and Drake’s Bakeries. The exhibit shared the experiences of generations of Brooklynites who dedicated their working lives to satisfying America’s sweet tooth. Sweet Industries was curated by nine Brooklyn teens who participated in “Ex Lab,” BHS’s annual museum studies afterschool program. 

Wonder: First Encounters with Green-Wood

Photo by John BhatiaIn Digital Photography, a beginning photography course at City tech, Robin Michals’ students visited Green-Wood Cemetery for the first time, and experienced, interacted, and captured the cemetery through fresh eyes. The images chronicle the wonder of experiencing Green-Wood Cemetery for the first time. Whether capturing gravestones and statuary, the natural environment, or the interplay of graveyard and urban center, these photographs show students from five different semesters experimenting, taking risks, and honing their own aesthetic approach.

Before photographing Green-Wood, the students visited Brooklyn Historical Society to examine original documents related to the cemetery’s history. Directly and indirectly, their work reflects the knowledge they gained from their archival research. Together, the images reveal the many personal, social, and cultural roles that the cemetery has played and continues to play in the lives of Brooklynites.

Photo by John Bhatia

Unlocking Two Revolutionary War Maps: The Ratzer Maps at BHS

Ratzer MapOn display were two versions of a map created by Lieutenant Bernard Ratzer, an engineer and surveyor in the British Army. He surveyed New York and its environs between 1766 and 1767 and printed the map in 1770. The larger map is a rare, first state (i.e. first edition) of Ratzer’s Plan of the City of New York. It is 1 of only 4 versions of this map known to exist in the world. The second is a portion of that same map that was used by Hugh Earl Percy, General in the British Army, during the Battle of Long Island in August 1776. Both were being shown to celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of Long Island, as well as BHS’s joint acquisition of the “Lord Percy” map with Green-Wood Cemetery.

We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words

We the PeopleWe the People challenges and confronts misconceptions and stereotypes associated with African-American and Latino residents living in New York City public housing. The project, a collaboration between journalist Rico Washington and photographer Shino Yanagawa, pairs photographs alongside candid interviews with residents. Inspired by the documentarian works of Jacob Riis, Gordon Parks, and Ruiko Yoshida, Washington and Yanagawa conducted interviews in various housing authority complexes across New York City’s five boroughs over a period of 18 months. We the People features such notable NYCHA former residents as hip-hop artist/actor Yasiin Bey (formally known as Mos Def), jazz musician/recording artist Olu Dara, filmmaker Dennis Watlington, hop-hop icon Afrika Bambaataa, and many more. The exhibit also includes an essay by Jamel Shabazz, a Brooklyn-born fashion, fine art, and documentary photographer whose work has been exhibited at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, as well as featured in films and album covers.

She said, She said: Art and inspiration in the work of Nell Painter and Lucille Fornasieri Gold

She saidThis exhibition juxtaposes two separate but related bodies of artwork - photographs of Brooklyn in the 1970s and 1980s, and the paintings they inspired many decades later. Lucille Fornasieri Gold documented everyday life in her multi-racial, multi-ethnic Brooklyn neighborhood. In 2008, Brooklyn Historical Society acquired her photographs, and two years later, the artist Nell Painter found them. Nell created new images by digitally manipulating fragments of Lucille's photographs and painting them into visual fiction.

Public Perspectives Exhibition Series

The Public Perspectives Exhibition Series provides a creative forum for Brooklynites to have an active voice at the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) by presenting community-curated exhibits. Every spring, BHS issues an annual open call for exhibition proposals from Brooklyn-based individuals, school and community groups, and non-profit organizations. Each season three recipient groups are selected by a panel of cultural and community representatives. Public Perspectives enables BHS to encourage community involvement not only in the content of exhibitions, but also in the selection process. The awardees collaborate with BHS staff to develop and mount their exhibitions. 

This series is made possible through the generous support of the Lily Auchincloss Foundation and FHL Bank. Additional support is provided by the Kress Foundation and HBO. 

Application Process 

Public Perspectives is currently on hold due to a scheduled interior renovation project and to pursue further funding. 

2009-2010 Recipients 

October 1, 2009 - January 24, 2010 

Brooklyn Utopias?, curated by Katherine Gressel. An invited group of artists respond to the question of Brooklyn's future by presenting their differing visions of an ideal Brooklyn. 

February 4 - August 29, 2010 

Tivoli: A Place We Call Home, curated by Delphine Fawundu. Multi-media exhibition of photographs, video and words documenting the tenants of Tivoli Towers in the Crown Heights neighborhood at the onset of gentrification, as the building faces the threat of removal of its affordable housing program status. 

September 16, 2010 - August 24, 2011 

Painting Brooklyn Stories of Immigration and Survival, curated by Nina Talbot. In collaboration with Professor Rachel Bernstein of New York University's Public History program, striking stories of Brooklyn residents are portrayed through paintings, oral histories and personal effects, lending individual insights into broader social aspects of life in Brooklyn. 

2008-2009 Season 

James and Karla Murray, Counter/Culture – The Disappearing Face of Brooklyn’s Storefronts. A vibrant photographic and narrative collection of Brooklyn’s rapidly vanishing neighborhood storefronts. September 10 – December 28, 2008. 

Rebecca Layton, Sarah Bostwick and Karla Wozniak, Brooklyn Redrawn. Three Brooklyn artists depict the visual and societal complexity of the borough’s urban built environment. January – April 2009. 

Andrew Urban and David Madden, Brooklyn and the History of Chinese Immigration. Investigates how Brooklyn residents responded to Chinese immigration in the 19th century, and the 20th century development of a Chinatown in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. May – August 2009. 

2007-2008 Season 

Sacred Hearts: A Journey of Italian Catholics in the Borough of Churches. Curator: John L. Heyer II, in cooperation with Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen Parish and the Italian Apostolate of the Diocese of Brooklyn. September 7 – December 30, 2007. 

Lost in Transition: South Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Coney Island
. Curators: Rebecca Krucoff and the Urban Memory Project. January 11 – April 27, 2008. 

Gowanus Transformations
. Curators: Christine Mackellar, Margaret Maugenest, and Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus (FROGG). May 9 - August 24, 2008. 

2006-2007 Inaugural Season

From Synagogue to Church: Converted Brooklyn Houses of Worship
. Curators: Ellen Levitt and Howard Dankowitz 

A Drum Beats in Brooklyn: A Photography Exhibition Celebrating the Drum-Based and African Influenced Traditions of Brooklyn.
Curators: She Shootin’ Photography Collective - Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Nsenga Knight, Delphine Fawundu-Buford, Kerika Fields, Ava Griffiths 

Up From Flames: Mapping the Recovery of Bushwick, 1977-2007
. Curators: Adam J. Schwartz, Meryl Meisler, Josh Lapidus, and students from the Academy of Urban Planning.

Documenting Sandy

Documenting SandyIn connection with the one year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, this exhibit of photographs taken by professionals and amateurs, on cellphones and slr’s, documents the aftermath of this devastating storm in Brooklyn and gives powerful voice to the impact and continuing recovery.

Exhibit Dates: October 16, 2013 – Spring 2014

Inventing Brooklyn: People, Places, Progress

Inventing BrooklynInventing Brooklyn: People, Places, Progress traces the evolution of Brooklyn into the place we know today. From Native American roots and Dutch colonial influences to icons such as the Brooklyn Bridge and the Dodgers, Inventing Brooklyn examines how various people, places, and historical events have shaped the development of the borough. Drawing on archival documents, photographs, prints, artifacts, and oral histories from the Brooklyn Historical Society collection, Inventing Brooklyn takes on 400 years of Brooklyn’s history. The exhibit includes items relating to the Battle of Brooklyn, Brooklyn's first newspapers, and Brooklyn’s diverse immigrant populations in order to capture the complexity and dynamism of the process of Inventing Brooklyn.
Inventing Brooklyn: People, Places, Progress is created by the high school students in Brooklyn Historical Society’s Exhibition Laboratory program. Now in its fifth year, Ex Lab invites students from four local high schools to help curate and design a new BHS exhibit. The Ex Lab students work closely with BHS staff, consulting historians, and professional exhibit designers to conduct archival research, choose objects, and write exhibit text in order to bring Inventing Brooklyn to life.

Say Cheese! Portraits to Pics

Say CheeseSay Cheese! Portraits to Pics explores more than 150 years of family portraiture, from the earliest daguerreotypes to digital photography today. Drawing on BHS's rich photography collections, the exhibit examins the ways in which changing technology has impacted the many ways people have documented their everyday moments, family milestones, and special events over time. Say Cheese! Portraits to Pics includes a wide range of photographic styles and mediums: processes such as ambrotypes and tintypes, prints from early twentieth-centry Kodak cameras, and recently-acquired born-digital portraits.

Say Cheese! Portraits to Pics is curated by the high school students in Brooklyn Historical Society's Exhibition Laboratory program. Now in its sixth year, "Ex Lab" brings together students from Cobble Hill School of American Studies, Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn Technical High School, and Saint Ann's School to create a new exhibit at BHS each year. This spring, the Ex Lab team has collaborated with photographers Harvey Stein and Nora Herting, photography scholar Sarah Kate Gillespie, and experts on photographic conservation, exhibit design, and graphic design to complete each stage of the curatorial and exhibition planning process.

To follow the progress of the Ex Lab team as they build the exhibit, follow @brooklyhistory on Twietter and look for posts with hashtag #ExLab. Tweet your pics from the exhibit using #SayCheeseBHS! You can see other visitors' photos from the exhibit online here via

Exhibition Laboratory is made possible through the generous funding of Martha A. and Robert S. Rubin, Con Edison and an anonymous funder. Additional funding is provided by Astoria Federal Savings Bank and the Ferriday Fund. Special thanks to Brooklyn Technical High School, Cobble Hill School of American Studies, The Packer Collegiate Institute and Saint Ann's School.

Exhibit dates: June 6, 2012 –  September 27, 2013

Painting Brooklyn: Stories of Immigration &Survival

Painting BrooklynThe exhibition Painting Brooklyn Stories of Immigration and Survival tells the stories of diverse individuals who have immigrated to Brooklyn. The people featured in the exhibition share their personal narratives that highlight the process of creating a new home in a new land and how they’ve incorporated their cultural traditions into their New York lives. Their stories speak of hope and despair, embrace and discrimination. The exhibition will be open at the Brooklyn Historical Society from Sept. 17, 2010 –extended to Aug. 14, 2011.

Curated by Nina Talbot, painter, in collaboration with Rachel Bernstein, public historian at New York University, the exhibit presents striking stories of Brooklyn residents through paintings, oral histories, poetry and personal effects. These different modes of expression offer multiple perspectives on this complex issue.

RitaVisitors to the exhibit meet a range of people, including an Iranian Jew with a jewelry shop in Newkirk Plaza; a Tuskegee Airman originally from the Caribbean whose mother worked as a servant for a family on Rugby Road; a phlebotomist from Dhaka, Bangladesh who lives in Midwood; a writer from Haiti with violent memories of the tonton macoute, now living peacefully in East Flatbush; a musician from Park Slope whose 96 year old mother remembers arriving in New York from Hangzhou, China in 1938; a Pakistani Muslim woman living in West Midwood; and a woman who survived the Mauthausen concentration camp now living in Borough Park.

Artist Nina Talbot painted portraits of the storytellers for the exhibition. The paintings portray life in vivid colors, and trace the international routes of some of the people who now live in Brooklyn. Talbot depicts the Brooklynites as they are today, with the backgrounds and borders of the portraits containing images from the subject’s past experiences.

loftinTalbot has come to know many people in her own neighborhood in the process of creating these portraits: “Each morning I exchange a glance with the grocer, or share a smile with the barber. Their visages hint at their past and their present. These paintings provide a map to what is beyond everyday faces, and tells the stories of what these faces have seen.”

The exhibition features audio from oral history interviews with individuals in the paintings. Poet Esther Cohen has written poems based on the individual narratives that inspired the paintings. These elements, combined with photos, student interpretations, and objects add depth to the lessons these individual lives can teach about struggle, survival, success and heroism.

In conjunction with the exhibition Professor Bernstein and Nina Talbot will run a family workshop Sunday, November 14th in which participants will conduct focused interviews to elicit stories from each other and create mixed media artwork based on the stories.

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 16. 5:30 - 7:30 pm.

Exhibit dates: Sept. 17, 2010 – extended to Aug. 14, 2011

About the exhibition series: Public Perspectives provides a creative forum for Brooklynites to have an active voice at the Brooklyn Historical Society by presenting community-curated exhibits selected from our open call for exhibition proposals. The awardees collaborate with BHS staff to develop and mount their exhibitions. Public Perspectives is made possible through the generous support of the Lily Auchincloss Foundation and FHL Bank, with additional support provided by the Kress Foundation and HBO.

Home Base: Memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field

homebase exhibit

Home Base: Memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field is an exhibition curated by local high school students in BHS' Exhibition Laboratory program. Through archives, photos and oral histories, the exhibition explores the connection between Ebbets Field, the Dodgers and the Brooklyn community. The exhibit features the history of the team and its fans by digging into BHS’ rich Dodgers collection that includes baseball cards, photographs of the field, ticket stubs, uniforms, seats from Ebbets Field, autographed baseballs, scorebooks from the 19th century, team photos and the famous Dodger Banner from their 1955 World Series win. The exhibition will include humorous and emotional stories from fans and employees of Ebbets Field, recorded by students and BHS staff during the semester. Home Base recalls the thrill and excitement of attending games at Ebbets Field at the height of the Dodgers era.

Home Base: Memories of the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field is curated by high school students from Brooklyn Technical High School, Cobble Hill School of American Studies, The Packer Collegiate Institute and Saint Ann’s School as part of the Brooklyn Historical Society's Exhibition Laboratory (Ex Lab) after-school museum studies program. Ex Lab introduces high school students to the art of exhibition development: conducting research, selecting artifacts, writing text and working with scholars and curators to understand how to communicate ideas through an exhibition.

Exhibition dates: June 3, 2010 - extended to April 1, 2012

Exhibition Laboratory is made possible through the generous funding of Timothy Bradley and Martha A. & Robert S. Rubin. Additional funding is provided by The Pine Tree Foundation of New York, Astoria Federal Savings and the Ferriday Fund Charitable Trust. Special thanks to Brooklyn Technical High School, Cobble Hill School of American Studies, The Packer Collegiate Institute and Saint Ann’s School.

Click here to view NY1's report on Home Base.

It Happened in Brooklyn

it happened in brooklyn logo Exhibit Dates:      it happened in brooklyn image This exhibit highlights key moments in our nation's history and how they played out in Brooklyn. Through artifacts from the Brooklyn Historical Society's permanent collection such as photographs, artworks, and documents, visitors will meet a diverse range of residents from Brooklyn's earliest Native American settlements, to the men and women who fought in the Revolutionary War on Brooklyn's shores, to the Brooklynites who worked to abolish slavery, the immigrants from all over the world who made Brooklyn home, and the women who kept America going by working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard during WWII.

It Happened In Brooklyn: Curriculum Materials

BHS offers educators free supplementary curriculum materials related to our It Happened In Brooklyn exhibit.

Download the education material


It Happened in Brooklynhas been made possible by The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation and Astoria Federal Savings.  The Brooklyn Historical Society is supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Brooklyn Community Foundation and New York State Council on the Arts.

The Ratzer Map

Restored 1770 Ratzer Map On View

February 2 - May 29, 2011

Marty & Deborah Ratzer Map

BHS President Deborah Schwartz and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz admire the newly restored Ratzer Map.

Due to popular demand following the The New York Times' front page article about the Ratzer map that ran on January 17, 2011, the recently restored 1770 map is now on view to the public February 2-May 29, 2011.

The map is available for viewing during the Brooklyn Historical Society's hours as follows: Wednesday-Friday and Sunday, 12pm-5pm and Saturday, 10am-5pm. Museum admission is free for BHS members; $6 for adults; $4 for teachers/students/seniors; children 12 and under are free.

While bringing our collections out of deep storage, we came upon an extremely rare map of New York City made by Bernard Ratzer in the late 1760s – only the fourth known copy of the map in the world. The map was in horrible condition. Varnished more than 200 years ago, it was discolored and brittle, with horizontal cracks every few inches along the entire map. Happily, our professional archive team sprang into action, and got the map to a conservator who first took emergency measures to stabilize it, and after 12 weeks returned the map to a magnificently conserved state (scroll down to see before and after images).

This map may be one of the most important artifacts representing New York on the eve of the American Revolution. We are gratified to fulfill our responsibility as caretakers of such an important document. You can now view this map in BHS' historic tile lobby through May 29, 2011.

ratzer map before and after

The 1770 map before, left, and after its restoration.

In Our Own Words: Portraits of Brooklyn's Vietnam Veterans

With the use of oral histories, portraits, and personal artifacts this audio installation explores the impact of the Vietnam War on the lives of Brooklyn’s diverse residents, from the first person perspective. “Meeting” eight people who were touched by the Vietnam War, visitors are prompted to consider the on-going impact of the Vietnam War in the lives of Brooklynites, from their memories of the war to how it affects them today.  From portrait to portrait, from person to person, from personal narrative to personal narrative, a meta-narrative slowly emerges in which we empathize with the stories of the men and women who confront the chaos of an historical period, and share their, memories, and understanding of the history through which they lived.

Sample audio clips can be heard on the Oral History page.

BHS offers educators free supplementary curriculum materials related to our In Our Own Words: Portraits of Brooklyn Vietnam Veterans exhibit.

Download the education material

Veteran Photography Exhibition  Photographers: Bernard Edelman Leroy Henderson Tony Velez

New York Times article 12/15/2007 In Our Own Words is made possible by the Nathan Cummings Foundation, Astoria Federal Savings, HBO and is in partnership with Brooklyn College.

Artist and Artifact: Re|Visioning Brooklyn's Past

Arts and Artifact

November 10 – December 18, 2010

Exhibit Hours: Tue-Sun 12-5 (BHS); Tue-Sat 12-6pm (BRIC)

Brooklyn Historical Society is pleased to announce Artist and Artifact: Re|Visioning Brooklyn's Past.  Through this exciting initiative, artists and writers are exploring the Society's collection for inspiration for original art work.  These new works will be exhibited along with the utilized pieces from the BHS collection in an upcoming exhibition at BRIC Rotunda Gallery. Catalog for Artist and Artifact: Re|Visioning Brooklyn's Past

Public Programs Opening reception: Wednesday, November 10, 7-9 pm, at BRIC Rotunda Gallery and at Brooklyn Historical Society (128 Pierrepont Street) Performance: Daniel Jose Older, Thu Oct. 28, 5:30-7:30pm (BHS)

Author Readings: Michael Schwartz and Elizabeth Gaffney, Sat Nov. 20, 2:00-4:00pm (BHS)

Artist Panel and Gallery Talk: Nora Herting, Andres Vera Martinez, Meredith Bergmann and Stanley Greenberg, Tue Nov. 30 For more information visit the Artist and Artifact: Re|Visioning Brooklyn's Past project page.

Tivoli: A Place We Call Home

Exhibition Opening: Thursday, Feb. 11, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

Exhibition dates: February 12 - August 29, 2010


Curated by Delphine Fawundu. A multi-media exhibition of photographs, words and video documenting the people of Tivoli Towers, a 35-year-old apartment building in Crown Heights Brooklyn.

TivoliTivoli is located in a neighborhood that once suffered harshly from lack of investment and the crack epidemic. Today, this same neighborhood is rapidly changing due to gentrification. Tivoli Towers is one of the few buildings in the neighborhood that has not been gentrified as yet, due to its status in the city-sponsored Mitchell-Lama affordable housing program. When the landlord recently tried to sell the building and remove it from the Mitchell-Lama Program, the tenants sued – and won. Since several NYC landlords have successfully removed their buildings from this program, this proved to be a landmark decision and important victory in 2005.  Click here to see a trailer for the documentary on Tivoli residents featured in the exhibit.

Tivoli 1In May 2009, the tenants were informed that their landlord is going to appeal the case.  If he wins, Tivoli Towers will no longer provide affordable housing for this diverse community of people.  Tivoli: A Place We Call Home will put a face and identity on Tivoli’s tenants at the onset of gentrification in this Brooklyn neighborhood and will help answer questions such as: Who lives there?  Where do they come from?  What experiences have they had living in this building?  How do they use this space that they call home?  What are their aspirations for this community that they have created? What contributions do they make to society? How have they been affected by the lack of investment in their building?  What does gentrification mean to them?

This project is produced by photographer/filmmaker, Delphine Fawundu Buford, along with filmmakers Scott Brathwaite and Anthony Clouden Jr.   These three long-time friends and residents at Tivoli Towers felt the need to collect visual histories of their own community. 

Public Perspectives is made possible through the generous support of FHL Bank. Additional support is provided by the Kress Foundation and HBO. This exhibition is part of Black Brooklyn Renaissance: Black Arts + Culture, 1960- 2010, which is sponsored by MetLife Foundation and presented by Brooklyn Arts Council in partnership with Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.

Pages of the Past: The Breukelen Adventures of Jasper Danckaerts

Exhibit Dates: June 6, 2009 – May 16, 2010 Pages of the Past 

In 1679 Jasper Danckaerts and his colleague Peter Sluyter came to New York in search of land for a religious colony. For 200 years Danckaerts’ meticulously written and illustrated diaries lay undiscovered until Henry C. Murphy, a founder of the Long Island Historical Society, (later renamed the Brooklyn Historical Society) came upon the diaries in 1864, in an Amsterdam book store. Now an important part of the BHS collection and an invaluable primary resource for scholars, the diaries are featured in an installation at BHS in celebration of the 400 Years of the Dutch in New York. The exhibition Pages of the Past: The Breukelen Adventures of Jasper Danckaertsfeatures these beautiful diaries and accompanying drawings and was curated by 19 high school students participating in the Brooklyn Historical Society’s educational program known as “Exhibition Laboratory”. In this program, high school students from four local schools are introduced to the art of exhibition preparation: they conduct research, select artifacts, write text and work with scholars and curators to understand how to communicate ideas through an exhibition. With the guidance of BHS staff and a team of scholars the students curated and designed this exhibition about the Danckaerts Journal.

Listen to Dutch historian Jaap Jacobs read from Jasper Danckaerts' Journal, 1679 - 1680 (BHS Archives and Manuscripts collection, 1974.024) in the original Dutch with English translation.

Learn more about the curating experience by reading the Ex Lab Students' Blog

Exhibition Laboratory is made possible through the generous funding of Timothy Bradley and Martha A. & Robert S. Rubin.  Additional funding is provided by Astoria Federal Savings.  Special thanks to Brooklyn Technical High School, Cobble Hill School of American Studies, The Packer Collegiate Institute and Saint Ann’s School.

Brooklyn Utopias?

From colonial settlement to urban renewal, the US has historically been obsessed with utopian communities.Brooklyn is no exception, with its history as a home for Dutch colonial and myriad immigrant settlers, social reformers like Alfred T. White and influential artists and writers from Walt Whitman to Spike Lee. Brooklyn's recent renaissance exemplifies the increased draw of city life and the attempts to build improved urban communities.

Nicole ShulmanThe Brooklyn Utopias? project invited both professional artists and emerging teen artists to identify and respond to the often-conflicting visions of the most livable and sustainable Brooklyn, and/or imagine their own Brooklyn "utopias."­   The resulting work of over 30 artists and Brooklyn teens will now be on display in a series of three Brooklyn Utopias? exhibits: at BHS, Brooklyn's Old Stone House, and the nonprofit youth art center Starting Artists, Inc. in Fall 2009. The participating artists at the Brooklyn Historical Society exhibit bring diverse approaches to the Utopias theme. Artists include Triada Samaras with photos of her “Democracy Wall,”—an interactive mural protesting large-scale development in Carroll Gardens. A second category of artworks include Jess Levey’s guerrilla photo projections on condos and Tracy Collins’ photographs of Atlantic Yards construction.

Living and Learning: Chinese Immigration, Restriction & Community in Brooklyn, 1850 to Present

Curated by Andy Urban On view May 8 - October 18, 2009. Learn about the experiences of Chinese immigrants to Brooklyn in the past and present by exploring historical newspaper and periodical articles, cartoons, photographs, and government documents. This exhibit offers insight into the cultural, social, and legal implications of the history of Chinese immigration to Brooklyn, and how many of the issues involved continue to resonate today.

Chinese Brooklyn Image: Goon Bow. Statement of Registered Chinese Laborer about to Depart from the United States with the Intention of Returning Thereto, Case File 56; Chinese exclusion acts case files, 1880-1960; Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group 85; National Archives and Records Administration – Northeast Region (New York).

Sunset Park Oral History Collection 1993 - 1994 The Brooklyn Historical Society collaborated with the Chinatown History Project - now the Museum of Chinese in America -- in order to conduct a series of oral histories with residents of Sunset Park. Mary Lui, who contributed an essay to this exhibit in her capacity as professor of Asian American History at Yale University, was one of the oral history project's interviewers. The interviews focused on what was then a new presence of Chinese and Asian immigrants concentrated along Eighth Avenue. Among the topics that are explored in the interviews are tensions between different groups of Chinese immigrants, crime and safety in the neighborhood, Sunset Park's relationship to Manhattan's Chinatown, and how long-term residents of Sunset Park had adjusted to the area's "newcomers." These interviews were digitized from cassette by Alexis Taines and Niles French and the complete interviews and transcripts are available through the Othmer Library.

Tony Giordano, b. 1948 in Brooklyn, Interviewed by Greg Ruf 6/29/1993 Billy Wong, b. 1964 in Hong Kong, moved to Brooklyn when 19 years old, Interviewed by Mary Lui 5/26/1993 Edmundo Quiñones, b. 1945 in Manhattan, Interviewed by Greg Ruf and Fabiana Chiu 6/10/1994 David Chan, b. 1955 in China, grew up in Hong Kong, moved to the U.S. in 1975, Interviewed by Mary Lui 4/17/1993 Yan Chen, b. 1974 in China, moved to U.S. when 8 years old, Interviewed by Mary Lui 4/23/1993 These audio tracks are also available for download through the Brooklyn Historical Society's podcast on iTunes.  Brooklyn Historical Society - Brooklyn Historical Society

PS94 Oral History Collection 2009 Oral histories are unique because they represent memories, anecdotes, and perspectives on events that might otherwise never make it into an archive. As part of this exhibit, fourth and fifth grade students at PS 94 in Sunset Park interviewed faculty members, their families, and neighbors in order to capture their perspectives on the neighborhood's history. Situated in one of New York's most racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, these histories of Sunset Park offer important insights into immigration, changes in the population and physical landscape, and the neighborhood's cultural life.

Carolyn Frere has been teaching in Sunset Park for 25 years Interviewed by students at PS94 with Andy Urban 3/13/2009 Enid Ramos has lived in Sunset Park over 40 years Interviewed by students at PS94 with Andy Urban 3/13/2009 Kiara, Marilyn, Wendy, Karen, Aisha, and Chrystin are students at PS 94. They presented their oral history projects on 5/4/2009. Click here to see their photos. These audio tracks are also available for download through the Brooklyn Historical Society's podcast on iTunes.  Brooklyn Historical Society - Brooklyn Historical Society .

Brooklyn Chinese- American Association 2009 On May 5, 2009, Susan Chan, Betty Lee, and Alan So participated in a roundtable interview at the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association in Sunset Park. Sharing their own personal observations on the changes that have affected the Chinese community in Brooklyn since 1950, they offer important insights into issues such as work, social services, generational differences, and prospects for the future.>

Betty Lee (b 1935), Alan So (b 1948), and Susan Chan (b 1940) Members of the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association Interviewed by Andy Urban with Sady Sullivan 5/5/2009

These audio tracks are also available for download through the Brooklyn Historical Society's podcast on iTunes.  Brooklyn Historical Society - Brooklyn Historical Society

No Jheri Curls & No Drugs: A David Lee Photo Exhibition

Exhibit Dates: June 26 - Sept. 1 2009

"She's Gotta Have It"

"She's Gotta Have It" (1986

David Lee has been shooting stills on 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks' sets since the beginning. Lee has been able to capture not only historic 40 Acres' scenes, but Brooklyn's vibrancy, and has inspired a flood of aspiring artists, photographers and filmmakers. David Lee's stills of children, brownstone-filled streets, and now blockbuster actors early in their careers serve as some of the most beautiful examples of his brother's genius. Images from "She's Gotta Have It" will be exhibited at the Brooklyn Historical Society from June 26- Sept 1. The Legend of Martense's Lane: Folklore in Dutch Colonial Brooklyn “The Legend of Martense’s Lane,” a folktale that originated in Colonial Dutch Brooklyn, offers a fascinating glimpse into the real and perceived lives of African Americans during the 17th century.  This exhibition centers on a series of four commissioned charcoal drawings by William Moore Davis illustrating the folktale.  Curated by Sarah Gillespie.

Brooklyn Redrawn

Part of the Public Perspectives Exhibition Series>

Artists & Curators: Sarah Bostwick, Rebecca Layton, and Karla Wozniak

Brooklyn Redrawn The architectural face of Brooklyn is in constant flux. Older buildings crumble and are torn down as new developments proliferate, sometimes seemingly overnight. Brooklyn artists Sarah Bostwick, Rebecca Layton, and Karla Wozniak all draw upon Brooklyn's past and present urban structures to convey the visual complexity of competing commercial, architectural, and real estate interests in the borough in which they work and live.  All three artists have in common an interest in the specific aesthetic details and local vernacular that makes up Brooklyn. They each use drawing as a method for observing, documenting, and interpreting the past, present, and future of the Brooklyn landscape.

Opening Reception: Wednesday, January 7, 5:30 – 7:30 PM

On view: Extended


Fulton Mall -Karla Wozniak

Public Perspectives has been made possible by a generous grant from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation with additional support from the Independence Community Foundation.

Suspended Over Time: Brooklyn Bridge 125th Anniversary

Exhibition Laboratory’s Teen-Organized Exhibit Students from Brooklyn Technical High School, Cobble Hill High School of American Studies, The Packer Collegiate Institute and Saint Ann's School learned about the process of curating an exhibit from start to finish. With the help of Brooklyn Historical Society staff, consultants and scholars, students mined the collection for art and artifacts pertaining to the Brooklyn Bridge. Through extensive background research and collaboration the students curated, co-designed and wrote the text for this exhibit, which illuminates the Bridge's history.

Exhibition Laboratory, an after-school program is made possible through the generous funding of Martha A. & Robert S. Rubin, Timothy Bradley and the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation. Additional support provided by Astoria Federal Savings.

Counter/Culture – The Disappearing Face of Brooklyn’s Storefronts

Part of thePublic Perspectives Exhibition Series

<Curators and photographers: James and Karla Murray

Barbar ShopBrooklyn’s neighborhood storefronts have the city’s history etched in their facades. Each store is as unique as the customers they serve and are run by owners who share a commitment to provide a special service. Many shops are lifelines for their communities, vital to the residents who depend on them for a multitude of needs. Yet such shops are disappearing on a daily basis as their neighborhoods rapidly change. Photographer-curators James and Karla Murray have scoured Brooklyn to observe “mom and pop” businesses from humble neighborhood stores tucked away on narrow side streets to well-known institutions on historic avenues. Candy Store Through panoramic photographs, portraits of individual storefronts, and illuminating interviews with shop owners, this exhibition reveals how neighborhood stores help set the pulse, life, and texture of their communities. Exhibit dates: Extended through March 29, 2009!

Listen to James and Karla Talk About the Exhibit

These audio tracks are available for download through the Brooklyn Historical Society's podcast on iTunes.

View video from the exhibit

Public Perspectives has been made possible by a generous grant from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation with additional support from the Independence Community Foundation.

Business Evolution of a Borough

This installation highlighted archival materials from the collections of Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and the Brooklyn Historical Society and celebrated the Chamber's 90 years of service to the Borough. On view from September 24 – October 26, 2008

Gowanus Transformations: Celebrating 150 Years of Manufacturing

Curators: Christine Mackellar, Margaret Maugenest, Friends and Residents of the Greater Gowanus (FROGG) and Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corp., and South Brooklyn Local Development Corp. Exhibit dates: May 8 - August 24, 2008.

In the mid 19th century the Gowanus Kil was transformed into a canal, providing easy access to raw materials and encouraging businesses to establish themselves along its banks. These materials became the lifeblood of the area, supporting the development of the surrounding communities. While the nature of business along the canal has evolved, the tradition of manufacturing in the Gowanus continues.

gowanus This exhibit focuses on a group of diverse businesses that demonstrate the broad scope of ingenuity and creativity thriving in the Gowanus in the 21st century, including: a potter, a stained glass business, a bicycle manufacturer, a full service special effects company, a cabinet maker, a marble company, a baker, an extrusion die manufacturer, and a clothing designer. The exhibit reveals how the Gowanus continues to provide necessary industrial spaces, and how the featured businesses utilize traditional and contemporary skills to contribute local goods and services.

Listen to Gowanus Transformations on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show! WNYC (FM 93.9 and AM 820) Aired on Thursday, May 29. Guests: Danny Maldari, Maldari & Sons; Jeremy Chernick, J & M Special Effects; and Phaedra Thomas, South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation. This exhibit is part of the ongoing series Public Perspectives and has been made possible by a generous grant from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation with additional support from the Independence Community Foundation.

Reflections on Community Development: Stories from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Exhibition Dates: February 28 - August 31 bedstuyReflections on Community Development: Stories from Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation provides a local and national narrative of the rise and importance of community development corporations (CDCs) from their inception during the late 1960s into the present. Using the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, one of the first CDCs in the country, the exhibit will present the story of how federal and state elected officials joined with local community activists, politicians and business leaders to create a truly cooperative public-private partnership whose mandate was nothing short of completely transforming an economically depressed, physically blighted urban community into a vibrant, dynamic, safe, stable place to live and work. Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation became a center for job training, housing development, block rehabilitation, economic development, youth activity, political organization and the arts. It has renovated entire blocks, put thousands of people to work, hosted political forums, attracted businesses to the community, and became a center for the arts and theater. Narrating its auspicious beginnings, struggles, andevolution with oral histories, captivating photographs, and rare documents this exhibit will tell the story of Bedford-Stuyvesant's -- indeed the entire nation's -- daring effort to make real the bold vision of a truly democratic society in the midst of America's crushing urban crisis.

Listen to Audio from the exhibit

Sponsored by JP Morgan Chase.

Lost in Transition: South Brooklyn, Williamsburg & Coney Island

Exhibition Dates: February 28 - August 31

Part of the Public Perspectives Exhibition Series Curated by Rebecca Krucoff and Ain Gordon (Urban Memory Project) Opening Reception: Thursday, January 10, 5:30 – 7:30pm Exhibition Dates: January 11 – April 27, 2008 Daily News Article 01.15.08

Lost 1In Lost in Transition: South Brooklyn, Williamsburg and Coney Island, students of the Urban Memory Project turn their eyes toward the rapidly changing face of their home borough. Using photography as a way to capture and document the Brooklyn they know, the high school students examine what these changes mean and how our view of the past is shaped by what survives. Their photographs feature images of new development projects, as well as existing structures they predict will soon vanish, including abandoned warehouses along the East River and the Gowanus Canal, small bodegas in quickly gentrifying communities like Park Slope, and Coney Island’s Astroland that is slated for demolition. Accompanying the student photography will be images from the BHS collection by legendary late 19th century photographer Eugene Armbruster that provided inspiration for their project. Armbruster took thousands of photographs of the rural Brooklyn he saw disappearing, becoming a true grass-roots historian documenting the changing landscape of his era. 

img style="width: 192px; height: 279px; float: left;" src="../graphics/Lost2.jpg" alt="Lost2">The Public Perspectives Exhibition Series provides a creative forum for Brooklynites to have an active voice at the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) by presenting community-curated exhibits. Public Perspectives is made possible by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation and will be on view in the Independence Community Gallery.

Exhibition Walk-Through and Talk with the CuratorsLost in Transition:South Brooklyn, Williamsburg & Coney Island

Public Program: Saturday, February 2 from 2 - 4 pm 

As Brooklyn’s built environment faces another wave of changes, what would you choose to preserve or document? Meet the curators for an interactive walk-through of the exhibit Lost in Transition, followed by an informal conversation over juice and coffee with Urban Memory Projects participants who will bring a variety of perspectives: student photographers, educators Vincent Falivene and Michael Salak, and photographer and author Vincent Cianni. Free with BHS admission (free admission for students with valid ID)

Mother Goose in an Air-Ship: McLoughlin Bros. 19th Century Children’s Books from the Liman Collection

Exhibit Dates:  September 2007 to February 2009

mother gooseMother Goose in an Air-Ship, McLoughlin Brothers (c. 1909)

This exhibit highlights beautifully-illustrated children’s books, printed in Brooklyn by McLoughlin Brothers, a publisher who pioneered new technology and marketing techniques in the mass production of inexpensive children’s books. The Liman Book Collection, a recent gift to the Brooklyn Historical Society, is an especially rich resource for exploring the values, character, and world views of nineteenth-century America.

Visitors will see children’s classics, such as Alice in Wonderland and adaptations of Robinson Crusoe, educational books, such as The History of the United States in One Syllable, cautionary tales like those in the Little Slovenly Peter Series, ABCs, Mother Goose stories, Christmas Books, books teaching children how to paint or draw, along with games and puzzles.  These delightful books will “amuse and delight” both children and their parents. In an innovative “Turn the Pages” section of the exhibit, visitors will be able to leaf through facsimiles of select books and also try their hand at drawing and coloring other facsimile images from McLoughlin Brothers “how tot” books. The Liman Collection of Nineteenth-Century McLoughlin Brothers Illustrated Children’s Books was graciously donated to the Brooklyn Historical Society by Mrs. Ellen Liman.

circus friendsCircus Friends, McLoughlin Brothers (c. 1898)
Mother Goose in an Air-Ship is made possible by The Liman Foundation and Astoria Federal Savings.

Sacred Hearts: A Journey of Italian Catholics in the Borough of Churches

Curated by John L. Heyer II,in cooperation with Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen Parish and the Italian Apostolate of the Diocese of Brooklyn. Opening Reception: Thursday, September 6, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

sacred heartsCorpus Christi Procession & Benediction. Van Brunt and Union Streets, c. 1930s. From the archives of Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen Parish, Brooklyn. Opening the second season of the Public Perspectives Exhibition Series, Sacred Hearts: A Journey of Italian Catholics in the Borough of Brooklyn focuses on the story of the first Italian Catholic parish in Brooklyn, Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, to explore how early Italian immigrants brought their religion to Brooklyn and built a life and community centered around their Catholic faith. Featuring newspaper articles, historic photographs, letters and documents from the Sacred Hearts Parish archives, as well as a revered statue of Madonna Del Laura, the exhibit weaves together the story of the great strength, faith and commitment of Italian American people in downtown Brooklyn over the past 125 years, and shows how this community continues to thrive today. Sacred Hearts is made possible by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation and will be on view in the Independence Community Gallery, through December 30, 2007.

Up From Flames: Mapping the Recovery of Bushwick 1977-2007

Curated by Adam J. Schwartz, Meryl Meisler, Josh Lapidus, Tim Evans and students from the Academy for Urban Planning
On view from May 23 to August 26, 2007
Opening reception Thursday, June 7, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Part of the Public Perspectives Series
Independence Community Gallery at BHS

flames Today, Bushwick is one of Brooklyn's “hottest” neighborhoods, abuzz with construction, renovation, and aspiration. With a burgeoning arts scene and convergence of Latin American people, Bushwick is truly one of Brooklyn’s most dynamic communities. Thirty years ago, however, Bushwick was a very different place. In the aftermath of a 1977 blackout in NYC, rife burning and looting took place and finally caught the attention of the city and the country after a period of neglect. It was during those darkest hours that Bushwick’s recovery began, and it continues to this day.

Up From Flames literally maps out this success of urban planning and community strength. The installation brings the mapping process to life through a mix of maps, primary documents - including important articles from the NY Daily News and The New York Times - and interviews with public officials and residents of the area. Most intriguingly, the painting and drawing on photography by renowned NYC artist Meryl Meisler will be displayed. Meisler’s work, which captured the ruins of Bushwick, also hints at the new life that has grown up from flames. This exhibit conveys how far Bushwick has come, and looks to where the neighborhood is headed.

Public Perspectives has been made possible by a generous grant from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation .

The Secret Lives of Streets Exhibition Laboratory: Teen Organized Exhibit

Walking in Brooklyn, have you ever wondered how streets such as Pineapple, Cranberry and Orange got their names? Was Jay Street named after Jay-Z? Was the name Vinegar Hill coined because of a distinct odor? Ten teens from local high schools, all with an interest in history and museums, asked these same questions as part of the Exhibition Laboratory. Explore and learn how culture, historic events, and notable Brooklyn residents factored into the naming of the streets that we walk everyday.

"Exhibition Laboratory", a pilot after-school program is made possible through the generous funding of Robert S. Rubin, Timothy Bradley and the Laura Vogler Foundation. Students from Brooklyn Technical High School, Packer Collegiate Institute, and Saint Ann’s School learned about the process of curating an exhibit from start to finish. With the help of Brooklyn Historical Society staff, students mined the collection for art and artifacts pertaining to this theme. They conducted extensive background research, wrote the explanatory text which will illuminate this history, and chose specific graphic design elements to complete the look and feel of the exhibit experience. The students wish to celebrate their accomplishment and look forward to greeting you at the opening of the exhibit. The opening will include special guests Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss, authors of the recently published "Brooklyn By Name", an account of how the neighborhoods, streets, parks, bridges and more got their names.

Landmark and Legacy: Brooklyn Heights and the Preservation Movement in America

Exhibit Dates: March 28, 2007 - September 9, 2007

mapProposed Historic District of Old Brooklyn Heights, hand-made map by Otis and Nancy Pearsall. This map was prepared for use in presentation to groups and committees whose support was sought for historic zoning in the early 1960's. Collection of Otis and Nancy Pearsall.Landmark and Legacy: Brooklyn Heights and the Preservation Movement in America highlights the social and political history that led to the designation of Brooklyn Heights as New York City's first historic district. This exhibit looks at the neighborhood over time, from Old Brooklyn Heights through the 1950s and early 60s when the residents of Brooklyn Heights, working with the Brooklyn Heights Association, tirelessly pursued protecting the architecturally distinctive neighborhood from being demolished during the course of new development in New York City. Featured are photographs by Clay Lancaster and hand-colored maps that catalogued the neighborhood's architecture and contributed to preservation efforts. Residents of Brooklyn Heights have loaned items to the exhibit, including artifacts recovered from Cadman Plaza. In addition, 19th to mid-20th century paintings and prints of Brooklyn Heights street scenes from the BHS collection will be on view, some for the first time in years.

Landmark and Legacyis made possible by American Express, Gerry Charitable Trust, and Arnold and Sharon Reichman in memory of Sarah Shore.