For our anniversary this year, my parents gifted us a membership to the Museum of the City of New York. I’m a big museum person and often maintain memberships because I am perfectly content to visit again and again. There’s always something new to discover.
Take it from someone who grew up in a very small city: urban life is different. This museum is dedicated to that urban life and specifically the metropolis that is New York City. They have a massive collection of photographs and memorabilia that they put to use in various exhibitions, all of which feature the city at the heart.
But let’s start with the entry. Isn’t it stunning? Museums are often used as event sites and I can totally see why here. This is just a good looking space that manages to feel both regal and modern. It also feels manageable. We didn’t tour the entire museum, but it’s not huge. I’ve been to The Met more times than I can count and still haven’t seen it all. This museum does not leave you feeling overwhelmed. Bonus: it’s located directly across the street from the equally stunning Central Park Conservatory Gardens. Stroll the museums…stroll the park…can you think of a more lovely day?!
On our first visit, we decided to go to two exhibits. The first, “Collecting New York’s Stories: Stuyvesant to Sid Vicious,” is ongoing. The bulk of this exhibit is a stunning collection of photographs that showcase New York’s everyday (from the 40s to the present), in all its grit and glory. I was blown away by the photography of artists like Martha Cooper, James Van Der Zee, and Richard Sandler. We also viewed an exhibit called “New York Responds: The First Six Months,” which crowd sourced to document the New York experience of the pandemic’s rise and racial justice uprising, occurring simultaneously. It made me realize how different this time has been for New Yorkers. This exhibit has since closed, but it was powerful.
This is the ideal museum for me because of how close it is to my home (less than a mile aka walkable in nice weather), but even if you don’t live nearby I highly recommend venturing uptown. I can’t believe I had lived in this city for nearly 14 years and had never visited. I’m sure there are some people who just “happen” to live here, but in my experience New Yorkers are extremely proud to live in this city – shout it from the rooftops type proud. If you are one of those people, this is the museum for you. It’s a celebration of all things NYC and is a beautiful reminder of why this city is so unique and wonderful.