Jacob A. Riis: Revealing New York's Other Half. Oct 14, 2015 – Mar 20, 2016

Jacob Riis (1849-1914) was a pioneering newspaper reporter and social reformer in New York at the turn of the 20th century. His then-novel idea of using photographs of the city’s slums to illustrate the plight of impoverished residents established Riis as forerunner of modern photojournalism. Jacob A. Riis: Revealing New York’s Other Half features photographs by Riis and his contemporaries, as well as his handwritten journals and personal correspondence.

This is the first major retrospective of Riis’s photographic work in the U.S. since the City Museum’s seminal 1947 exhibition, The Battle with the Slum, and for the first time unites his photographs and his archive, which belongs to the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library.

The exhibition is curated by Bonnie Yochelson, former Curator of Prints and Photographs at the City Museum, and is co-presented by the Library of Congress. It will travel to Washington, D.C., and to Denmark following its presentation at the City Museum.

Yale University Press, the City Museum, and the Library of Congress also co-published a book on the occasion of the exhibition.
Read the press release.

Join the conversation. #JacobARiis.

View Photos

Our Jacob A. Riis Collection encompasses more than 1,000 photos and serves as the sole archive of Riis's images. Browse the Collections Portal.



  • "Jacob Riis Photographs Still Revealing New York’s Other Half" The New York Times
  • "Revealing Riis’s Other Half of New York" New York Times LENS
  • "The heartbreaking pictures of New York's slums that prompted social reform and earned immigrant photographer praise as the city's 'most useful citizen'" Daily Mail
  • "New Exhibit Reveals an Unexpected Side of Jacob A. Riis" American Photo
  • "Century-Old Jacob Riis Photographs of New York's 'Other Half' On View" Curbed
  • "NYC Museum Retrospective of Photojournalist Jacob Riis" ABC News
  • "Museum of the City of New York Spotlights Jacob A. Riis and the ‘Other Half’" Women's Wear Daily
  • Sponsors

    Exhibition co-chairs: C. Flemming Heilmann   Ronay Menschel

    The exhibition is made possible by grants from


    Additional support is provided by
    D. Euan and Merete Baird
    The Malkin Fund
    Ronay and Richard L. Menschel
    Queen Margrethe’s and Prins Henrik’s Foundation
    C. Flemming and Judy Heilmann
    Jan and Lotte Leschly
    Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation
    John Loeb

    Education and public programs in conjunction with the exhibition are supported by

    The catalogue that accompanies the exhibition is supported by a grant from Philip and Edith Leonian Foundation.

    The National Endowment for the Humanities: Celebrating 50 Years of Excellence. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.