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“Surprising place”

New-York Historical Society Museum & Library
Ranked #120 of 1,153 things to do in New York City
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: A trip to New York wouldn't be complete without a visit to the New-York Historical Society with its four centuries of history and art - plus the only Children's History Museum in the area. It hits the spot for anyone craving an offbeat (and often surprising) bite of the city's culture easily digested in an hour or two. Quirky, smart, immersive and across the street from beautiful Central Park, it offers a rich taste of the city. You know the city - now hear the stories. Witness New York's rise from remote outpost to city at the center of the world in our 18-minute panoramic film experience, New York Story, in surround-sound on a 75-foot screen. Then travel through time in visionary exhibitions and an entire floor of children's galleries that show why this city has always captivated hearts and minds. "We were absolutely blown away by the film which manages to convey more about New York and its history than one could imagine ever being crammed into 18 minutes." - CL, New York NY History will break free from the textbooks and jump into your life! Hungry for more? The New-York Historical Society is your neighborhood destination for food and drink, whether you're grabbing a breakfast bite and a delicious cup of coffee at Parliament Coffee & Espresso Bar, or you're looking to relax with a delectable lunch and dinner and a glass of wine at Storico. Then explore the NYHistory Store for unique New York City gifts and exhibition-related merchandise.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Wheelchair access, Activities for young children, Stairs / elevator, Food available for purchase
Reviewed January 28, 2014

Used to live on the Upper West Side where this museum is located and it used to be a small stuffy place. Recent renovations have brought it alive. Anyone interested in the history of New York from Dutch colony to great megalopolis should not miss this attraction. Permanent and special exhibits bring history to life. The Armory Show was informative, but could have gone farther (for history and art buffs). Like the use of video and sound. The film on NYC was probably intended for school children.
There is also a fine dining restaurant and shop.

Thank Anise2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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456 - 460 of 665 reviews

Reviewed January 23, 2014

I think it was the name that misled us because for 50 years we've been going to the Met, the Frick, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Natural History, etc., but never made it into the Historical Society, though it is literally across the street from the Museum of Natural History. What a surprise! We went to see the Armory 100 year show (which is great, full of pictures you know well but that look a lot better when you see them in person). But we stayed to wander around, and the whole place is full of treasures - including a really good place to have lunch and recharge before hitting he collections again. Whatever you want - famous paintings, silver pitchers, Tiffany Glass, Civil War drums, paintings, furniture - it is all there.

Thank GilBagnell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2014

Interesting and well displayed exhibition, gives you an idea of what a shock to the system these "degenerate" European Cubists and modern artists must have been when these paintings and sculptures were first displayed in New York in 1913. Good background info and displays of letters and telegrams from the NYPL. Not crowded. a very nice museum, the IMax film about New York is great.

Thank LimeyLady
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2014

I've gone to this museum twice over the past few years and found it has great special exhibits. The most recent was a centennial exhibit on the 1913 NY Amory Show, which featured some of the groundbreaking art that shocked the US artworld. We all found it very interesting. Also good was the exhibit on portraits of the Gilded Age.
Last time I was there we saw a really eye-opening exhibit on slavery in NYC. Periodically the museum offers free tours, which is also excellent. There's also a small cafe offering food that looked and smelled good.
A cool children's section that engages children in the topic of history in inventive ways is on the lower level. I like that the museum isn't too overwhelming and you can explore decorative arts, historical artifacts, sculpture, all in manageable sizes.
There's also a good introductory film that helps people see quickly the changing history of NYC. It's abutting Central Park, so it's a good segue into or from the park.
While it's true that the museum doesn't offer a comprehensive history of NYC, it's a great place to learn enough to whet your appetite and engage w/ the past, whatever your age.

Thank ktk19147
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 5, 2014

When I read Trip Advisor reviews, I always like to read the 1-star reviews as well as the more positive ones. In case anyone else does this, let me mention that the 1 star review from February 2012 is off base. There are bathrooms on every floor (the two she mentioned are just the ones by the gift shop/cafe). We had no problem with coat check, despite having to get our coats after a fire alarm forced us to leave the building. Finally, the grandma's attic feel, is in the upper story of the museum which has been set up in the "open storage" fashion, so there's a lot of items on display, but not all fully explained. In the old days, these items would be sealed off in storage, and no one would see them at all, so I think this is a better alternative.
The main floor exhibits focus on New York City, and we really liked them. Aaron Burr's death mask? Who wouldn't want to see that? The Gilded Age portrait exhibition was wonderful if you like portraits of rich people from 1900. The highlight for us was the special exhibit of the Armory Show 100 years later. I never appreciated what really happened at the Armory before and I think others will feel the same (assuming any interest in the history of art.)
The museum is pricy and not huge. I would not say that you need to put it on you "First visit, must do list," but if you are looking to expand your horizons on your second or third visit NYC, I would definitely come here.

Thank trailingwife
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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