Get To Know New York's Stories in This Unmissable Show

February 8, 2020

In 1977, the renowned American filmmaker Martin Scorsese made the film New York, New York, centered around the melodramatic story of the bohemian life of jazz musicians. The soundtrack of the movie featured the song performed by the lead Liza Minnelli, still considered an iconic appreciation of the city that has certainly changed quite a bit since the late 1970s.

The song epitomized New York’s bohemian nature, and such was the case with other and equally famous songs and movies that contributed to the mythologization of the city. In contemporary terms, this particular toponym is still perceived as the place to be, an epicenter where the latest tendencies in art, fashion, architecture, and many other fields swiftly change and dictate the global market like no other city in the world does.

To unravel various stories related to the development of this iconic megapolis, The Museum of the City of New York decided to organize a dazzling exhibition titled Collecting New York’s Stories: Stuyvesant to Sid Vicious.

Richard Sandler - CC Train
Richard Sandler - CC Train, New York, 1985 (printed later). Gelatin silver print. Museum of the City of New York. Gift of Richard Sandler

Depicting The Lives of New Yorkers

Collecting New York’s Stories is made up of one hundred historic and contemporary photographs, drawings, garments, posters, and other artifacts affiliated with the city’s history from the Museum’s permanent collection.

The selection illustrates the variety of lifestyles, stories, and experiences that colored the city throughout the decades, reflecting an exceptional overview of social and political shifts in American society.

Ruben Natal - San Miguel - BRONX
Ruben Natal-San Miguel - BRONX, Orchard Beach, Bronx, 2013. Chromogenic development print. Museum of the City of New York. Gift of Ruben Natal-San Miguel

The Installment

The visitors have a chance to see newly acquired photographs by both well-known and burgeoning artists, from Janette Beckman, Helen Levitt, Bruce Davidson, and Martha Cooper, to Gail Thacker, Richard Sandler, James Van Der Zee, and Harvey Wang, among others.

The exhibition highlights include a portrait of the Marx Brothers by Yousef Karsh from 1984; contemporary color portraits of residents of Bedford Stuyvesant by Ruddy Roye; the garments owned by the sculptress Louise Nevelson and beauty entrepreneur Helena Rubenstein; unique posters from the 2017 Women’s March. On display are also few original images by an established, former New Yorker illustrator Saul Steinberg.

Bruce Davidson - Subway
Bruce Davidson - Subway, 1980. Chromogenic development print. Museum of the City of New York. Anonymous gift

Collecting New York Stories at MCNY

The exhibition is jointly curated by Lindsay Turley, Vice President of Museum Collections; Sarah Henry, Deputy Director, and Chief Curator; and Sean Corcoran, Curator of Prints and Photographs. The President and Ronay Menschel Director of the Museum of the City of New York, Whitney Donhauser, stated the following:

New York City's diversity and dynamism is beautifully reflected in the variety of artists, collectors, and ordinary New Yorkers represented in our collection, Collecting New York’s Stories includes exciting recent additions to our contemporary photography collection alongside historical artifacts and ephemera, allowing visitors to delve deeper into the many faces, places, and touchpoints of our beloved city.

Collecting New York’s Stories: Stuyvesant to Sid Vicious is on display at the Museum of the City of New York until 31 December 2020.

Featured images: Robert Gerhardt - Children Playing in the Spray from a Fire Hydrant, Myrtle Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn, 2010. Gelatin silver print. Museum of the City of New York. Gift of David Rheingold; Kenji Nakahashi - Empire on Mirror, 1998. Chromogenic development print. Museum of the City of New York. Anonymous gift in memory of Kenji Nakahashi; Joseph Michael Lopez - 23rd Street and Park Avenue, New York, 2006. Archival pigment print. Museum of the City of New York. Gift of Joseph Michael Lopez. All images courtesy The Museum of the City of New York.