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



Firefight BookBook Talk: Ginger Adams Otis, Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York's Bravest

Tue, Jul 7, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
Reserve Tickets>>
In 1919, Wesley Williams became the third black male to join the ranks of New York’s Bravest. Despite severe discrimination he rose to Battalion Chief. Almost a century later, the FDNY remains predominately white. NY Daily News reporter Ginger Adams Otis is joined by members of the Vulcan Society, an organization of black firefighters, to talk about the ongoing struggle to diversify the FDNY.

Hidden Brooklyn: Fort Hamilton

Thu, Jul 9, 6:30 pm
Explore the Harbor Defense Museum and historic Fort Hamilton as we travel to the foot of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge for an evening of viewing exhibits and taking in the views! Tour goers are invited to stay on and purchase dinner at the Ft. Hamilton Community Club with its stunning view of the East River.

*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.*

A Biography of East New York

Tue, Jul 14, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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East New York is where NYC's future is going to happen, where City Hall plans affordable and inclusive housing, with residents and industry existing side by side. But East New York is by geography, class and race a far distance from the city's centers of power and influence. To understand what it might become, hear from a panel of residents, advocates and experts on how the neighborhood got to where it is now.

One Righteous ManBook Talk: Arthur Browne, One Righteous Man: Samuel Battle and the Shattering of the Color Line in New York

Thu, Jul 16, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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As NYC’s first African American cop, Samuel Battle feared his racist colleagues as much as the criminals he policed. Upon retirement he was decorated and revered, with a biography by Langston Hughes in the works. Arthur Browne, New York Daily News editorial page editor, has taken Hughes’ unpublished manuscript and, with his own archival research, written a fascinating narrative of an unheralded figure.

ReturnComing Home Screening and Discussion: Return

Mon, Jul 20, 6:30 pm
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The second in our series of screenings and discussions about U.S. soldiers returning home, the quietly powerful 2011 film, Return, finds a mother and wife struggling to adjust to everyday life after a tour of duty in the Middle East. David LaRocca, editor of The Philosophy of War Films, is joined by Phoebe Gavin, Iraq War veteran, and Edward Walsh, Captain, US Marine Corps, 2002-2006, for the talk-back.

Molly HaskellPerson, Place, Thing with Randy Cohen and Molly Haskell

Wed, Jul 22, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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Emmy Award-winning writer Randy Cohen returns to BHS to record his radio show that uncovers surprising stories from great talkers. This time he is joined by feminist film critic and author, Molly Haskell. Haskell served as film critic for The Village Voice, New York Magazine and Vogue, and has written numerous books, including From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movie, Holding My Own in No Man’s Land: Women and Men and Film and Feminists, and Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited.

Bryan Stevenson by Nina SubinAn Evening with Bryan Stevenson

Tue, Jul 28, 6:30 pm
$15/$10 for BHS & G-W Members
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Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, and MacArthur Award winner, Bryan Stevenson is leading the movement against the death penalty, mass incarceration and racial discrimination in our justice system. Archbishop Desmond Tutu described him as “America’s young Nelson Mandela.” Join us for this inspiring evening.

Photo by Nina Subin

Writing War

Thu, Jul 30, 6:30 pm
$5/Free for BHS & G-W Members
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After more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, an impressive cadre of writers has emerged from the ranks of America’s military to put stories of war and homecoming on paper. BHS welcomes National Book Award winner Philip Klay (Redeployment), former U.S. Army Captain Matt Gallagher (Kaboom), author Sara Novic, and poet and playwright Maurice Decaul for a discussion moderated by Brandon Willitts, Executive Director of Words After War.


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
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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
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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!

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

Mon, Aug 17, 6:30 pm
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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

Partner Series

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

Apr 16, Jun 25, Aug 20, Oct 15

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. 2: The Restaurant is Born
Jun 25, 6:30 pm
We find ourselves in 1820s New York, where oysters are king. The most recent wave of immigration has brought with it a rash of aspiring entrepreneurs setting up shops, stands, and even the very first restaurant. Dine at the intersection of high and low culture with outsized shellfish, peanuts, and French-style cuisine.

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.


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.