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 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.

New features in the gallery include:

  • An original 10-minute documentary film, City of Movement, juxtaposing new and archival footage of different modes of activism in New York past and present
  • "A Danger Unlike Any Danger," a  case study on New York's role as a center for nuclear disarmament activism from 1957 to 1985
  • Touch-screen stations that showcase current activist groups across the city working on various issues as well as six original short video interviews
  • Crowd-sourced photographs of activism unfolding throughout the city, curated through a social media feed

We're on Twitter! Follow us @ActivistNY and join the conversation.

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Activist New York Website

Activist New York now has a companion website! Visit the online exhibition to see current and past content from the gallery, access educator materials, and more.

New York Activism Today

Help us tell the story of today's activists. Use our hashtag #ActivistNY on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram with 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. You could be featured in the gallery's new social feed!

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.

Puffin Foundation logo

Public Programs

The New New York Activists | Undocumented New Yorkers
Thursday, October 20 at 6:30 pm
Join our panel of grassroots leaders, organizers, and scholars for a conversation about the future of immigrant rights in New York.

Visit our Family Programs calendar to learn about more upcoming events related to our exhibitions and collections.

Videos: Meet the Activists

  • Location

    The Puffin Foundation Gallery
    Second Floor