Preservation in Progress

Picturing Immigration

Through September 29, 2024

A gloved hand brushes over an old painting of people standing by a ship.

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Preservation in Progress: Picturing Immigration offers visitors a rare opportunity to witness the restoration of one of the most significant items in the Museum’s collection: Samuel Bell Waugh’s massive painting The Bay and Harbor of New York (1855, 8.25 x 16.5 ft).  

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the challenge of caring for collections objects through both the ongoing preservation work to the painting happening live in the gallery and hands-on opportunities to experiment with conservation tools and processes.  Conservator Gary McGowan will be on-site to work on the painting Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Preservation in Progress delves into this painting’s role as a document that provides a rare depiction of early immigration. The installation considers this historic painting within a larger context of (often politically charged) visual documentation of the individuals and communities who have looked to New York as a beacon of opportunity and arrived seeking freedom, safety, and a new beginning.  

Samuel Bell Waugh, The Bay and Harbor of New York, c. 1855, Museum of the City of New York. Gift of Mrs. Robert M. Littlejohn, 33.169.1
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