Prints, Drawings, and Photographs

Jacob Riis photographThe Museum of the City of New York's Prints, Drawings,
and Photographs Collection documents the built
environment of the city and its changing cultural,
political, and social landscape from its earliest days to
the present. Over half a million views of the city and its
people provide a rich visual resource.

Holdings include:

  • Some of New York's earliest photographic views, including waxed-paper negatives by Victor Prevost and rare landscape daguerreotypes.
  • Works by such noted photographers as Berenice Abbott, Jacob Riis, and Jessie Tarbox Beals.
  • More than 22,000 original prints taken by the Byron Co. in New York between 1890 and 1942.
  • The photographic archives of the Gottscho-Schleisner firm, LOOK Magazine, Irving Underhill, Charles Von Urban, and the Wurts Brothers, as well as photographic work commissioned by the renowned architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White.
  • The Harry T. Peters Collection, including the most complete set of hand-colored Currier and Ives prints in existence.
  • Reginald Marsh's watercolor mural studies for the U.S. Customs House at Bowling Green; work produced by city printmakers under the Federal Art Project; and thousands of topographical engravings and hand-colored lithographs.
  • Drawings ranging from 18th-century pastel portraits to 19th-century architectural drawings by A.J. Davis; political cartoons from the 1920s and 1930s by Rollin Kirby and John Cassel; architectural renderings by Hughson Hawley; drawings by Rea Irvin; and the archives of the Planning Board of the 1939 New York World's Fair.

Costumes and Textiles

Costume CollectionThe Museum of the City of New York's Costume and Textile
Collection preserves over 25,000 garments and accessories
dating from the late 17th century to the present, the vast
majority with a documented
history linking them to the
New Yorkers who wore them
as well as the context of
their wearing.
The collection captures the history not
only
of changing fashion tastes but also of the evolving
culture and social mores of the city.

Holdings include:

  • A legendary collection of clothing worn by fashionable New York women bearing the label Worth/Paris, founded by legendary couturier Charles Frederick Worth.
  • Peerless "boutique/highlight" collections of clothing, accessories and memorabilia that document New York's epic social events including the October 12, 1860 "Ball in Honor of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales" that took place at the Academy of Music at 14th Street and Irving Place, the Vanderbilt Ball held March 26, 1883, as well as Truman Capote's Black and White Ball, held November 28, 1966 at the Hotel Plaza.
  • Significant holdings of 20th-century works by New York designers, including Claire McCardell, Mainbocher, Vera Maxwell, Norman Norell, and Valentina.
  • Items identified with city personalities, including John Jay's velvet frock coat, Al Smith's trademark derby, the uniform of department store legend Buster the Doorman of Henri Bendel, and a desert-toned camouflage uniform issued to a female New York City National Guard member who served in Operation Desert Storm.
  • Fashion accessories including fans, stockings, shoes and boots, gloves, parasols, hats and headdresses, and purses as well as costume jewelry.
  • A chronological reference archive of primary source materials directly related to the history of fashion trends and the fashion industry in New York City. Included are photographs, clippings from periodicals, vintage store and mail-order catalogues, and bound fashion publications.
  • More than 5,000 theatrical costumes and accessories.

Manuscripts and Ephemera

worlds fair brochure 1939The Manuscripts and Ephemera Collection augments
and complements other elements of the Museum
collections, spanning the mid-17th century to the
present day, but is particularly strong in late 19th-
and early 20th-century items. Materials include family
and personal papers, corporate papers, documents,
ephemera, postcards, and maps; and address a wide
variety of topics including land ownership, commerce,
civic engagement, social life, politics, and entertainment.

Holdings include:

  • Papers of the Livingston, Delancey, Jay, Munro, Riker, and Tower Families, Samuel Latham Mitchill, and Alfred E. Smith.
  • Documents related to real estate, apprenticeships, bills and invoices, and citizenship.
  • Ephemera related to public events such as bridge openings and statue dedication ceremonies, special dinner events, cultural activities such as museum exhibitions, advertising, public health, nightlife, and clubs and societies.
  • Postcards presenting vivid images of all five boroughs.
  • Maps documenting the changing landscape of the city over 300 years, featuring works such as a 19th-century facsimile of Adrian Block’s 1614 map of Niew Neiderlandt, Thomas H. Poppleton’s 1817 Plan of New York, and Plan of the City of New York, In North America: Surveyed in the Years 1766 & 1767, as surveyed by Bernard Ratzer.

Decorative Arts and Furniture

collections furniture tableThe Museum of the City of New York holds one
of the most significant collections of New York
furniture, ranging from the early-18th through
the late-19th centuries.

Holdings include:

  • Iconic works by leading New York makers and designers, representing the leaders of American design from the nascent years of nationhood to the onset of World War I, including John Henry Belter and Company (active 1844- 1866), Herter Brothers (active 1865-1907), Charles Honoré Lannuier (active 1779-1819), Leon Marcotte & Company (active 1849-1880), Joseph Meeks & Sons (active 1829-1859), Duncan Phyfe (active 1792-1847), Pottier & Stymus Manufacturing Company (active 1859-1918), and Alexander Roux (active 1836-80).
  • Leading examples of New York silver from the late 17th through the first half of the 20th centuries. Expertly catalogued and beautifully illustrated, the two- volume publication, Elegant Plate: Three Centuries of Precious Metals in New York City documents the evolution of New York silver production and presents stellar examples from the Museum’s collection.
  • Chinese export porcelain commissioned by New Yorkers as well as Staffordshire china produced for the New York market, along with stoneware vessels from the Crolius Pottery of lower Manhattan.

Paintings and Sculpture

George Washington portraitThe Museum of the City of New York's Paintings and Sculpture
Collection includes a vast array of works ranging from portraits
to seascapes, allegories to city scenes by some of this country’s
pivotal artists beginning in the 17th century and running
through the 20th century. The collection spans portraiture
celebrating New York’s roots to edgy work of the graffiti artists.

Holdings include:

  • Significant works by major artists, including Fifth Avenue at 89th Street in 1868 (1868, Ralph Blakelock); Youle's Shot Tower (1844, Jasper F. Cropsey); Dance on the Battery in the Presence of Peter Stuyvesant (1838, Asher B. Durand); Rainy Late Afternoon, Union Square (1890, Childe Hassam); Samuel Rossiter Betts (1835, Henry Inman); Philip J. Hone (ca. 1825, John Wesley Jarvis); Harris Theater, New York (1940, Reginald Marsh); Henry Post (ca. 1820, Rembrandt Peale); Robert Fulton (ca. 1810, John Trumbull); and Margaret Marston Philipse (ca. 1751, John Wollaston).
  • A small group of preliminary models for monuments, which are considered among the institution's major treasures. These include Robert Ball Hughes's surviving plaster study for the ill-fated Hamilton monument destroyed by the Great Fire of 1835 and Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi's early terra-cotta model for the Statue of Liberty.
  • More than 100 paintings and prints depicting scenes of New York Harbor and its watercraft. American marine painters represented include James Butterworth, Thomas Birch, Antonio Jacobsen, Gordon Grant, Edward Moran, and the Bard Brothers, whose work is featured in the Andrew Fletcher Collection depicting New York steamboats built by Fletcher, Harrison & Co. between 1859 and 1887.

Theater

Union Square Theatre postcardThe Museum of the City of New York's Theater Collection documents theatrical activity in New York City from the
late-18th century to the present day. The heart of the
Theater Collection holdings is the John Golden
Archive, which consists of approximately 40,000 folders,
organized into files on productions, personalities, and
performance spaces. The files contain a wide range of material including photographs, contracts, correspondence, playbills, manuscripts, advertising materials, reviews, obituaries, clippings, sheet music, autographs, account records, prompt books, and ephemera.

Holdings include:

  • 17,000 folders documenting Broadway and Off-Broadway productions since the 1800s.
  • Original set and costume renderings by designers such as Alvin Colt, Miles White, Donald Oenslager, and Lucinda Ballard.
  • Posters and window cards that document trends in theatrical advertising.
  • Original scripts by Eugene O'Neill.
  • A large collection of George M. Cohan’s annotated scripts and original Orchestrations.
  • Personal papers of Mary Martin, Howard Dietz, Julia Marlowe, and E. H. Sothern.
  • Over 3,500 caricatures, drawings, and prints.
  • Popular entertainment collections on Burlesque, Circus, Minstrelsy, and Vaudeville.