New York Historical Society

Notes on NYHS

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 42 seconds

The New York Historical Society has a large museum just south of the Natural History Museum on W.78th Street. At the entrance to the museum, there is a sculpture by artist Fred Wilson titled Liberty/Liberté (2011). This brilliant archival assemblage of historical objects was culled from the NYHS collection and addresses the legacy of slavery in American nation building. It would be easy to walk right past it, but it surprisingly complements the other objects in the room and the Civil War Quilts exhibition in the back gallery. There are also several special exhibitions, notably the second part of John Audubon’s series called Audubon’s Aviary: Parts Unknown, a large series of photographer Bill Cunningham’s called Facades, and a small exhibition, The Black Fives, exploring the history of African American basketball teams from the early 1900-1950. In addition to the special exhibitions, there is a large collection of objects on the fourth floor relating to the domestic history of New York, as well as occupational history.

In the southeast corner of the fourth floor there are a set of large vitrines containing paintings and amidst those paintings are a series created by Thomas Cole. Cole is a well known nineteenth century painter, particularly as the founder of the Hudson River School. The five paintings on display are known as The Course of Empire, painted between 1833-36. Visitors have until the end of summer to view the paintings, then they will be travelling to LACMA as part of an upcoming exhibition, Nature and the American Vision: The Hudson River School.

For more information about the New York Historical Society, exhibition dates, and other information, please visit their website

Thomas Cole’s The Course of Empire