The Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) isn’t your typical museum. Located across from Central Park in upper Manhattan at the top of Museum Mile, it’s a great place for tourists and locals alike to experience one-of-a-kind exhibits and presentations. RewardExpert had the privilege of speaking with Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Sheryl Levy, of the Museum of the City of New York, who said, “There’s always something to do here.”
History of the Museum
MCNY was founded in 1923 by Scottish-born writer, Henry Collins Brown who “had a vision for a populist approach to the city,” Levy described. The museum was originally housed in Gracie Mansion and then moved to a new Georgian style architectural building in 1932.
Through the decades that followed, the museum collected thousands of treasures, and is now home to 750,000 pieces, which include prints, photographs, decorative arts, costumes, paintings, sculpture, toys and theatrical memorabilia. The MCNY website states that it engages its visitors by celebrating, documenting and interpreting New York City’s past and present, as well as its future. Levy said, “We position the museum like this should be the first stop on your journey in New York City.”
One of the most popular exhibits is New York at its Core, which is featured on the first floor of the museum. “It’s divided into three galleries – Port City, World City and Future City Lab,” described Levy. “It’s an award-winning, critically acclaimed exhibition that celebrates and interprets the 400 year history of New York City with a look to the future. It’s highly interactive and very engaging.” In fact, it’s even a key part of the New York City’s school curriculum. Levy said MCNY welcomes over 320,000 visitors per year and nearly 54,000 come through their FAO Schwartz Center, the children’s education center.
Another exhibition that’s being featured right now is Germ City – Microbes and the Metropolis. “It’s a combination of public health, medicine, science and art, starting with the flu pandemic that wiped out 30,000 New Yorkers, and how a city of our density deals with and prevents disease.”
To keep things fresh, every six to eight weeks a new display opens, and there are about nine exhibitions that open each year. Levy said, “There’s always something new.”
Why MCNY is Worth the Visit
With so many museums to choose from in New York City, including the Met, the Frick, the Jewish Museum and the Guggenheim to name a few on Museum Mile, MCNY provides an “understanding of the distinctive nature of urban life in the world’s most influential metropolis,” stated the MCNY website. Levy added that the Mile includes “some of the best cultural institutions in the world.”
While she said that MCNY is a great place for tourists to visit, it is also a wonderful place for locals to spend a relaxing afternoon learning about the past, present and future. “A lot of New Yorkers have made a choice to live here and they want to know about their city – why they live here, why the city is so great and all the stories behind the buildings, behind the characters, and the people of this great metropolis.”
MCNY also has about 50 public programs per year, which are film screenings, panel discussions and food events. In addition, it offers walking tours through the Urban Archive app and includes a digital collection of more than 13,000 images. Levy said, “The idea is that you come here, visit here, spend a half day and then go out in the city and use our customized walking tours.”
A Look to the Future
MCNY has a lot of exciting things in the works. At the end of January, an exhibit will be opening that features legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. In the Dugout with Jackie Robinson will commemorate the late ball player’s hundredth birthday this year.
In March, Cycling in the City and The Voice of the Village: Fred W. McDarrah Photographs will open and in June 2019, people will be coming from all over the world to celebrate NYC Pride 2019.
For more information on The Museum of the City of New York, visit https://www.mcny.org/.