Explore the drama of social activism in New York City from the 17th century right up to the present.

In a town renowned for its in-your-face persona, citizens of the city have banded together on issues as diverse as historic preservation, civil rights, wages, sexual orientation, and religious freedom. Using artifacts, photographs, audio and visual presentations, as well as interactive components that seek to tell the entire story of activism in the five boroughs, Activist New York presents the passions and conflicts that underlie the city's history of agitation. 

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New York Activism Today

Help us tell the story of today's activists! Contribute your images of New Yorkers who are currently involved in our city, its communities, and the larger world, whether through volunteering, organizing, lobbying, petitioning, protesting, making art, or otherwise taking action or speaking out. Upload your images at blog.activistnewyork.mcny.org

The Puffin Foundation

Activist New York is the inaugural exhibition in The Puffin Foundation Gallery, which is dedicated to the ways in which ordinary New Yorkers have exercised their power to shape the city's and the nation's future.

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Family Programs

Pick up an Activist New York Exploration Guide to supplement your walk through the rich collection of photographs, audio, and video. Families can explore the long history of social activism of New York, from when the first enslaved Africans arrived in New Amsterdam in the 1600s. After exploring the exhibition, kids can make their own activist buttons in support of causes they believe in. Read more in New York Family.

Public Programs

The New New York Activists: Living City, Living Wage
At a moment of impassioned debate about the right to a "living wage," the City Museum and New America NYC recently hosted a new generation of activists, journalists, and entrepreneurs who use organized labor, equitable business models, and the media to fight for a more livable and prosperous city – for all New Yorkers.

The New New York Activists: Urban Green Innovators
New York may be known as a concrete jungle, but it is also an important center of green activism. To mark the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, we'll discuss how citizens, entrepreneurs, and policy makers are making an impact on our city's environment, today and for the future.

Education Programs

Taking a Stand: History of Social Activism in New York for grades 2-12
Discover how New Yorkers have fought for freedom and equality over the past 350 years. Students will explore the Activist New York exhibition, which features photographs, pamphlets, signs, and banners, to learn about abolition, women’s suffrage, immigration, civil rights, and other social issues. Participants will create a button championing a change they want to make.

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    Admission to the Museum of the City of New York includes all exhibitions currently on view. The Museum is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.

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    The Puffin Foundation Gallery
    Second Floor