Activist New York


Black Lives Matter protesters with their hands in the air in a sign of surrender and the “hands up don’t shoot” slogan

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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, New Yorkers have banded together on issues as diverse as 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 story of activism in the five boroughs past and present, Activist New York presents the passions and conflicts that underlie the city's history of agitation.


Photo by Caleb-Michael Files

Celebrating ten years of Activist New York at the Museum of the City of New York

Over a decade ago, Perry Rosenstein approached the Museum of the City of New York with a unique vision for a designated gallery on activism. The child of immigrants, Perry was a former organizer, veteran, and business owner. He had also mobilized against racism and fascism, and supported artists, journalists, and the environment as Founder and President of the Puffin Foundation. This lifelong activism and philanthropy planted the seeds for Activist New York, which, with the support of the Puffin Foundation, opened in May 2012 as an evolving exhibition with 14 rotating modules exploring a range of activist stories in New York City—both past and present. Since its opening, the exhibition has also provided invaluable content for the Museum’s educational and public programming while serving thousands of students, educators, and learners of all ages. Take a look at some of the highlights from these past ten years as we explore the far-reaching impact of this exhibition.


Activist New York and its associated programs are made possible by The Puffin Foundation, Ltd.

Logo for The Puffin Foundation, Ltd.

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.

In-Depth Stories

Movements and Causes Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Yuri Kochiyama and Malcolm X

Activists Yuri Kochiyama and Malcolm X, subjects of the installation "Raise Your Voice" at the Museum of the City of New York, had brief but important connections as part of their work in the Black and Asian American liberation movements and beyond.  

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