Public Programs

Brooklyn Historical Society offers a wide array of public programming that celebrates the diversity of Brooklyn's past and present and takes a close look at where the borough is headed. With panel discussions with Brooklyn luminaries, screenings of classic and groundbreaking films, thought-provoking talks on Brooklyn's history from new perspectives, family art and dance activities, and more, BHS has something for everyone.

Recently at BHS


Historic Gastronomist Sarah Lohman moderates a discussion among four of New York City's top distillers, including NY Distilling Co., Kings County Distillery, Brooklyn Gin, and Van Brunt Stillhouse. This was a partner program between Brooklyn Historical Society and Brooklyn Brainery.

For more BHS public programs you can watch from home, browse our Vimeo page.

Calendar of Programs

AUGUST | SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER | NOVEMBER | DECEMBER
FAMILY PROGRAMS | PARTNER SERIES

August

The Spirit of the BeehiveMovie Mondays: Making Waves in Film, Then and Now with The Spirit of the Beehive

Mon, Aug 3, 6:30 pm
Free
Reserve Tickets>>
This screening and discussion connects Brooklyn filmmakers today with innovators of the past. The line between reality and fantasy is blurred in both Marina Fernandez Ferri’s short Temblor, which explores the complex feelings of an outsider in a foreign land (in this case, a Spaniard in New York), and The Spirit of the Beehive, the 1973 masterpiece by Spanish director Victor Erice that draws us into the mischievous and sometimes dangerous world of a child’s imagination.

The Spirit of the Beehive courtesy of Janus Films.


Stone CarvingHidden Brooklyn: Stone Carving

Tue, Aug 4, 6:30 pm
$15/$10 for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
Trained as a stone carver at St. John the Divine, Chris Pellettieri now carves private commissions and his own art in his Greenpoint studio. Take a tour, see a masonry demonstration, and hear about the next generation of this special art.

*Please note that this is an off-site tour. Exact meeting location for the tour is included in the confirmation email upon purchasing tickets to this event. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets will not be sold at the door.*






Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice CreamWhat’s the Scoop? The Story of Van Leeuwen Ice Cream

Thu, Aug 6, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
Cool off with us and hear the whimsical story behind one of Brooklyn’s most delicious local businesses. Laura O'Neill, Benjamin Van Leeuwen and Peter Van Leeuwen share some of the secrets behind their unique recipes and read from their new book Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream. Samples will be provided!



Joyce Kozloff, Les États-Unis d’Amérique, 2013Mapping Brooklyn: An Artists Panel

Tue, Aug 11, 6:30 pm
Free
Reserve Tickets>>
Join us for a panel discussion to celebrate our Mapping Brooklyn exhibition before it closes on September 6th. Mapping Brooklyn, which juxtaposes the work of contemporary artists working with historic maps, with examples of maps themselves, was co-presented at BRIC Arts | Media House (February 26, 2015 - May 3, 2015) and the Brooklyn Historical Society (February 26, 2015 - September 6, 2015).

A number of the artists will be on hand to discuss their work and their experience with this fascinating project, including Aaron Beebe, Daniel Bejar, Fran Benitez, Joyce Kozloff, Katarina Jerinic, Simonetta Moro, and Nick Vaughan. Elizabeth Ferrer, Vice President, Contemporary Art at BRIC, and the curator for the BRIC portion of the exhibition will also join the panel.



Coming Home: Screening and Discussion of 
Little Dieter Needs to Fly

Mon, Aug 17, 6:30 pm
Free
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We conclude our series of screenings and discussion on U.S. veterans returning home from foreign wars with Werner Herzog’s documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly. David LaRocca, film scholar and editor of The Philosophy of War Films, is joined by Edward Walsh, Captain, US Marine Corps, 2002-2006, for the talk-back.

(c)Werner Herzog Film GmbH


September

SlumflowerScreening and Discussion: SLUMFLOWER

Thu, Sep 10, 7 pm
Free
Reserve Tickets>>
To kick off Fashion Week, Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs, founders of the esteemed sartorial blog, Street Etiquette, present their short film, SLUMFLOWER, which was accepted into the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The short is an exploration of black male identity through the eyes of a 10-year old boy finding beauty and growth in the midst of concrete. See stills and behind-the-scenes images here.

Why New York? Our Segregated Schools Epidemic

Wed, Sep 16, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
In 2014 it was widely reported that New York State has the most segregated schools in the nation. In this first program of our newest series, Why New York?, WNYC Education Reporter Beth Fertig talks to experts Norm Fruchter, writer, scholar and Principal Associate of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform; Nikole Hannah-Jones, investigative reporter and accomplished journalist with The New York Times Magazine; and Clara Hemphill, founder of insideschools.org, and others, about the current and future fight against inequities in education in the Empire State.

Robin NagleHow Brooklyn Works: Trash Pick-Up

Thu, Sep 17, 6:30 pm
$10/$5 for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
Famed TED Talk presenter, author of Picking Up, and the New York City Department of Sanitation’s anthropologist-in-residence, Robin Nagle, presents the history and inner workings of the DSNY and leads a conversation with the resident experts: a panel of DSNY sanitation workers.

Presented in partnership with Atlas Obscura.




Nerd NiteNerd Nite Speed Dating

Thu, Sep 24, 
Dating: 7:30 pm; Presentations: 9 pm
$25 to speed date; $10 for presentations only
We are pleased to offer BHS Members early access registration for this program!
Registration will open to the general public on August 15th.
BHS Members: to purchase tickets, please call 718-222-4111.
Brooklyn history and speed dating, together forever! Join BHS and Nerd Nite for a special evening when 20 nerdy fellas and 20 nerdy lasses get a shot at finding love and learn local history at the same time. Speed date tickets are limited, but join us for the presentation. With drinks, of course.

Vale of CashmereHidden Brooklyn: Vale of Cashmere

Tue, Sep 29, 6 pm
$15/$10 for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
Join the Prospect Park Alliance’s chief landscape architect, Christian Zimmerman, for a tour of the little-known, seldom explored northeast corner of Prospect Park. Designed by Park creators Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as the Children’s Playground, with a small pond for model boats, a rose garden and a bucolic rustic arbor, it was redesigned by McKim, Mead and White at the turn of the century. After decades of decline, the Alliance is working to revive this once-lush garden oasis. The first step in more ambitious restoration plans was the creation of the Zucker Natural Exploration Area. Following the tour, enjoy refreshments at Lefferts Historic House. Please note that this is an off-site tour. Exact meeting location for the tour will be emailed closer to the event. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

 Photo by Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Lost, Found, and Stewarded: Collecting Stories of African American Civil War Soldiers

Wed, Sep 30, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
How do we know what we know about black soldiers who fought in the Civil War? And what does it tell us about the complex business of collecting African American materials from eras when such objects were undervalued and overlooked? Eve Kahn, Antiques columnist for The New York Times, moderates a discussion with expert panelists Christopher Moore of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Ron Coddington, author of African American Faces of War: An Album; and Wyatt H. Day, head of African Americana Department at Swann Auction Galleries.


October

Orchestra of St. Luke'sOrchestra of St. Luke’s

Thu, Oct 1, 6:30 pm
Free
Seats available on a first-come, first-served basis.
St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble comes to BHS as part of its 5-borough Subway Series, performing a free one hour concert featuring music for winds and strings. Bring new or lightly-used art supplies for the art supply drive, hosted with Cool Culture, and enjoy ice cream provided by Melt Bakery.

Photo by Matt DineOrchestra of St. Luke's


Shirley Chisholm“Activism on Film” Screening and Discussion: Chisholm '72: Unbought & Unbossed

Mon, Oct 5, 6:30 pm
Free
Reserve Tickets>>
Join us for the first of our “Activism on Film” screenings and discussions. Shola Lynch, filmmaker and Curator of the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, will present her Peabody Award-winning documentary on the 1972 presidential bid of Brooklyn-based Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Talk-back to follow.

Photo courtesy of The Library of Congress

Why New York? Our Broken Bail System

Tue, Oct 6, 6:30 pm
Free
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The sole purpose of bail is to ensure that defendants return to court. Yet in Brooklyn, nearly 90% of misdemeanor defendants can’t afford $1,000 bail. The result: they’re sent to Rikers and ultimately plead guilty just to go home. Shaila Dewan, a New York Times journalist who has written extensively about bail, will moderate a panel that explores New York’s two-tiered criminal justice system where income too often determines guilt or innocence. Panelists will include a judge, policy advocate, criminal defense attorney, and an individual who couldn't afford bail.

SIMS Recycling PlantHidden Brooklyn: SIMS Recycling Plant

Wed, Oct 7, 6:30 pm
$15/$10 for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
Newly opened in 2013, the state-of-the-art SIMS Recycling Facility in Sunset Park is changing how Brooklyn handles recycling, with an eye to sustainability and all-ages education. Get a behind-the-scenes introduction to the history of the company, including its work on metal clean-up after 9/11, and a special tour of the innovative, fascinating, and (a little bit) loud recycling plant. Please note that this is an off-site tour. Exact meeting location for the tour is included in the confirmation email upon purchasing tickets to this event. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

The Changing Face of Activism

Thu, Oct 8, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
How has affecting social change evolved, from desegregation in the 1960s, to Black Lives Matter today? Moderated by Alethia Jones, a leader of 1199SEIU UHWE, the panelists include Barbara Smith, who has spent four decades fighting racism, classism, homophobia and sexism; Joo-Hyun Kang of Communities United for Police Reform; and Jose Lopez, Lead Organizer at Make the Road NY and member of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing.

Joseph AlexiouJoseph Alexiou on Gowanus: Brooklyn's Curious Canal

Tue, Oct 13, 6:30 pm
$10/$5 for BHS & G-W Members
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Joseph Alexiou's forthcoming book, Gowanus: Brooklyn's Curious Canal, narrates more than three hundred years in the history of our borough's most compelling former industrial waterway. From idyllic oyster beds to dumping grounds for toxic waste, Gowanus is intrinsically linked to Brooklyn's industrial and agricultural past. In celebration of his book’s release, Alexiou will discuss the parallels in today's Gowanus real estate rush with that of the 1860s, which coincided with Brooklyn's rapid industrial transformation.

Presented in partnership with Brooklyn Brainery.

A Conversation with John Cummings, Founder of the Whitney Plantation, America’s First Slavery Museum

Thu, Oct 15, 6:30 pm
$10/$5 for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
Last year, the first museum of slavery opened on the site of a former Louisiana plantation. John Cummings spent 15 years and $8 million of his own fortune to do it. Hear his story and the story of the Whitney Plantation in this fascinating conversation.

Life after Surveillance in Bay Ridge's Muslim Community

Tue, Oct 20, 6:30 pm
Free
Reserve Tickets>>
New York City's post-9/11 security measures had a tremendous affect on Bay Ridge's Muslim community. At its height, the extensive police use of informants sewed deep distrust in the neighborhood. Now that the post-post-9/11 era is upon us with an administration that says it's moving away from heavy intelligence penetration, has life changed in Bay Ridge? Join Jarrett Murphy, Executive Editor of City Limits, as he engages in this important discussion with community leaders, scholars and experts such as Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York, Moustafa Bayoumi, award-winning writer, and Professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Dr. Ahmad Jaber.

Ron Chernow & Oskar EustisAlexander Hamilton the Man and the Play: A Conversation with Ron Chernow and Oskar Eustis

Mon, Oct 26, 6:30 pm
$10/$5 for BHS and G-W members
We are pleased to offer BHS Members early access registration for this program!
Registration will open to the general public on August 15th.
Reserve Tickets>>
Historian Ron Chernow’s biography, Alexander Hamilton, inspired The Public Theater’s hit musical, Hamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Oskar Eustis, The Public’s Artistic Director, joins Chernow to discuss the complexities of staging history. Moderated by Rebecca Mead of The New Yorker.

How Brooklyn Works: Sewers and Wastewater Treatment

Wed, Oct 28, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS and G-W members
Reserve Tickets>>
A system designed to be invisible, Brooklyn’s sewers are vast, complex, innovative, and integral to the functioning of New York City, and yet the average New Yorker rarely needs to consider their existence. Kate Ascher, author of The Works: Anatomy of a City, leads a diverse panel of experts who will shine a light on the system’s history, as well as its contemporary challenges and the creative solutions that will lead to a more sustainable unseen system.

Presented in partnership with Atlas Obscura.
 

November

Brother Outsider“Activism on Film” Screening and Discussion: Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin

Mon, Nov 2, 6:30 pm
Free
Reserve Tickets>>
We continue our “Activism on Film” documentary series with a screening of the award-winning film on civil rights activist Bayard Rustin. Rustin’s work, including his organization of the 1963 March on Washington, should have made him a household name, but he was forced to remain in the background due to his open homosexuality. This film finally brings his incredible story to light. Talk-back with director Bennett Singer and Walter Naegle, Rustin’s surviving partner, to follow.







Hiding in Plain Sight: The Brooklyn Trial of KGB Spy Rudolf Abel

Wed, Nov 4, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS and G-W members
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Soviet spy rings on American soil? Microphotographs hidden in hollow nickels? It may seem the stuff of a Hollywood espionage thriller, but this all happened in our backyard. Hear the true story of Spielberg and Hanks’ latest film, Bridge of Spies, when a panel of experts shines a light on Cold War Brooklyn and the case of KGB spy Rudolf Abel.

Cry Havoc

Mon, Nov 9, 6:30 pm
$20/$15 for BHS and G-W members
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Actor/veteran Stephan Wolfert’s one-man show, Cry Havoc, brings us face to face with the horrors of war and the unexpected battles faced by the return to civilian life, interspersing Shakespeare’s timeless warriors into a contemporary tale.


Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1Screening and Discussion: Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1

Wed, Nov 11, 6:30 pm
Free
We are pleased to offer BHS Members early access registration for this program!
Registration will open to the general public on August 15th.
Reserve Tickets>>
This Veterans Day, join us for a screening of the 2015 Academy Award-winning Best Documentary, a powerful film that follows those on the frontline of the only veterans’ suicide hotline in the country. Introduced by director Ellen Goosenberg Kent, a talkback with Bryan Doerries of “Theater of War,” Iraq war veteran Phoebe Gavin, and others, follows.


TFTV: War CorrespondenceTales from the Vault: War Correspondence

Thu, Nov 12, 6:30 pm
Free
Reserve Tickets>>
Join us for a Veterans Day celebration in our archives as we explore the life and times of American veterans in Brooklyn. BHS archivist John Zarrillo examines Brooklyn’s role in America’s wars, from the Revolutionary War to the present, and shares stories from veterans and their families in their own words using correspondence and objects found in our collections.







Malcolm X in Brooklyn

Mon, Nov 16, 6:30 pm
Free
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Although most closely identified with Harlem, Malcolm X’s work and influence extended throughout New York City—including Brooklyn, where he helped to establish a Muslim mosque and encourage its members to establish local businesses. Fifty years after his death, Malcolm X’s influence in Brooklyn can be seen not only in its religious life, but also in its politics and culture. Drawing on his work at Columbia University’s Malcolm X Project and his own graduate research, BHS’s Oral Historian Zaheer Ali explores Malcolm X’s history and continued legacy in Brooklyn.


Told It First Hand: Screening and Discussion of
Stretch and Bobbito: Radio that Changed Lives

Tue, Nov 17, 7 pm
$10/$5 for BHS and G-W members
We are pleased to offer BHS Members early access registration for this program!
Registration will open to the general public on August 15th.
Reserve Tickets>>
Hosts of “The Best Hip Hop Radio Show of All-Time” on WKCR, Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Garcia left an indelible mark on the Hip Hop world, introducing the public to now larger-than-life names like Nas, Biggie, Jay-Z, Eminem, and the Fugees. Brooklyn Bodega’s Wes Jackson is joined by Stretch and Bobbito for a discussion after the screening.


Movers and Shakers: Dance Activists in NYC

Thu, Nov 19, 6:30 pm
Free
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New York City has always been a place where artistic expression and activism merge, and the dance world is no exception. Eva Yaa Asantewaa leads a discussion about artistic expression as activism among pioneering dancers who are leaders in their genre including Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Camille A. Brown, and Jason Samuels Smith.


Mary-Louise ParkerPerson Place Thing with Randy Cohen and Mary-Louise Parker

Mon, Nov 30, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS and G-W members
Reserve Tickets>>
Local resident Mary-Louise Parker chats with Randy Cohen in this latest installment of Person Place Thing. As always, Cohen will record the conversation as he talks to Parker about life and her new memoir, Dear Mr. You. An Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress, Parker has taken on a wide-array of memorable roles on stage (Proof, Reckless, Hedda Gabler, etc.), on the big screen (Fried Green Tomatoes, Mr. Wonderful, The Portrait of a Lady, RED, etc.), and the small screen (The West Wing, Angels in America, Weeds, etc.). Now she can add published author to her long list of accomplishments.

Photo (left) by Melanie Dunea

December

City Reliquary’s Annual Collector’s Night!

Wed, Dec 2, 6:30 pm
$10/$5 for BHS and G-W Members
Ticket infoformation will be available soon!
People say that if something exists, somebody somewhere probably collects it! Brooklyn’s dusting off its quirkiest collections for City Reliquary’s Annual Collector’s Night!


Art by Joan ChivertonConcert: Brooklyn Art Song Society Presents Britannica Part III: Gerald Finzi and Ralph Vaughan Williams

Thu, Dec 3, 7 pm
$25/$15 for BHS and G-W members
Reserve Tickets>>
Brooklyn Art Song Society returns to BHS after last year’s sold out all-Poulenc program.  For this program BASS features two of the most beloved British song cycles: Gerald Finzi’s A Young Man’s Exhortation and Ralph Vaughan William’s Songs of Travel.  Gerald Finzi’s masterpiece will be performed by tenor Dominic Armstrong accompanied by pianist Michael Brofman.  Baritone Sydney Outlaw and pianist Brent Funderburk both make their BASS debut with Songs of Travel.  

Art by Joan Chiverton


Cocoa in the City: NYC Chocolate Makers

Thu, Dec 10, 7 pm
$12/$8 for BHS and G-W members
We are pleased to offer BHS Members early access registration for this program!
Registration will open to the general public on August 15th.
Reserve Tickets>>
Historic gastronomist Sarah Lohman returns to BHS, this time to explore the history and intricate production process behind everyone’s favorite treat: chocolate. With a panel of chocolate makers, from bean to bar producers to confectioners of fine chocolates, discover the origin story behind some of your favorite chocolate bars and mouth-watering truffles. Tastings included!

Presented in partnership with Brooklyn Brainery.

Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival

Fri, Dec 11, 6:30 pm
Free
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Perhaps the one constant in our dynamic borough is that it is constantly changing, so thank goodness there are documentarians capturing the stories that make Brooklyn what it is. Join us for an evening of visual storytelling hosted by the Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival.

Harvey Milk“Activism on Film” Screening and Discussion: The Times of Harvey Milk

Mon, Dec 14, 6:30 pm
Free
Reserve Tickets>>
Our “Activism on Film” series concludes with a screening of the Academy Award-winning documentary about trailblazing activist Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States. Nearly 40 years after his assassination, Milk’s work remains a powerful symbol in the fight for equality.

NYC and Food Poverty: Margarette Purvis, Food Bank For New York City President and CEO, In Conversation

Tue, Dec 15, 6:30 pm
Free
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In New York City, approximately 1.4 million people rely on soup kitchens and food pantries. Margarette Purvis, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City, shines a spotlight on a problem that is hiding in plain sight.

Disguising Brooklyn: Film and TV’s Favorite Location

Thu, Dec 17, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS and G-W members
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Brooklyn is known for being the centerpiece of many popular television shows and films throughout history, but did you know that many of the stories you see on the big and small screens often disguise Brooklyn to look like someplace else? Join Jim O'Grady of WNYC as he talks to location scouts from popular TV shows like The Good Wife about the hows and whys of disguising Brooklyn.

The Moth

Mon, Dec 21
Doors: 7 pm; Stories: 7:30 pm
*Advance member registration via special BHS e-blast in early December*
The Moth StorySLAM returns to BHS! In connection with the BHS exhibition on the history of the Brooklyn Americans hockey team, the theme of the evening will be THIN ICE. Test your storytelling prowess and regale the wintertime audience with your story of successfully navigating from thin ice to solid ground… or of falling through.

Partner Series

BLAST! from the PastBLAST! from the Past: A Dinner Party Series

Remaining Dates: Aug 20 & Oct 15
LOCATION:

Humboldt & Jackson
434 Humboldt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211
$70 for each program (including tax, gratuity and all beverages)
Join Brooklyn Brewery and BHS in New York City’s first culinary time machine at Humboldt & Jackson as we journey back through great eras in New York’s culinary history. We’ll be visiting four unique periods, bringing you beer-centric meals inspired by each evening’s place in history. This is BLAST! from the Past: A Brooklyn Brewery Dinner Party Series.

Dinner Party No. 3: Flappers, Fringes and Fast Cars
Aug 20, 6:30 pm
We touch down in the 1920s, with the pesky Volstead Act and Prohibition getting in the way of everyone’s fun. Luckily, true New Yorkers have figured out inventive measures for getting around the law. In the right circles, decadence is the name of the game and what should be scarce is more than abundant.

Dinner Party No. 4: Windows on the World
Oct 15, 6:30 pm
We’re going back to Back to the Future to visit New York City in the 1980s. This wild decade included not only the founding of the Brooklyn Brewery, but co-founder Steve Hindy hosting his first-ever beer dinner at Windows on the World. That menu will be brought back to light just in time for our trip.


PUBLIC PROGRAM REFUND POLICY

Brooklyn Historical Society requires 24 hours notice before the date of the event to refund a ticket. No refunds are provided after that point. This means no refunds are provided on the day of the event and all subsequent days.

Bank of AmericaPublic Programs are made possible, in part, by a generous grant from Bank of America. 



Additonal funding provided by The Agnes Varis Trust.


Family Programs


BHS Family Programs are taking a break for the summer! Check back soon for next year's schedule.



Always be in the know! Sign up to receive our weekly eblast reminding you of this week's BHS Family Program HERE.