Step back in history! Waterfront is an exhibition and
multimedia experience for all ages that brings to life the vibrant
history of Brooklyn’s coastline through stories of workers, artists,
industries, activists, families, neighborhoods, and ecosystems.
Waterfront is on
view at BHS’s second location in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Empire
Location and Hours
Waterfront at BHS DUMBO (55 Water Street, Brooklyn) will be open to
the public during the following hours:
Tuesday to Thursday, 11 am to 6 pm
Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 8 pm
Sunday, 11 am to 6 pm.
$10 for adults
$6 for seniors and teachers
Free for members and students of all ages.
Enter at 55 Water Street or through Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Waterfront traces a personal, local history of the borough’s waterfront while also revealing the coastline's global significance. The exhibition engages with important debates about the shoreline’s future by taking on the waterfront’s most pressing contemporary topics including sea level rise and gentrification. Highlights include:
Landfilling the Shore
Visitors explore a sculptural installation of 82 archaeological artifacts excavated from the ground beneath Empire Stores.
This section tells quirky story of oysters and sewage in the early 20th century.
|An Unfree Waterfront
Visitors unlock the untold stories of three enslaved Brooklynites and their struggle for freedom.
Visitors are immersed in the sights, sounds, and smells of Brooklyn’s 19th-century warehousing district.
|A Laboring Family
Visitors become historians themselves to recreate the story of one 19th-century Empire Stores dockworker, Michael Harkins, and his family.
|Made In Brooklyn
An object installation highlights iconic products made along Brooklyn’s coastline.
This section honors centuries of women workers along the waterfront, and provides a dress-up and play opportunity for younger visitors.
Salvaged artifacts and oral histories tell the story of the waterfront’s midcentury economic decline and its 21st century rebirth.
Through a series of short videos, historians, business owners, politicians, scientists, and activists explore key questions about climate change and sea level rise.
Here, kids and adults can create their own whimsical waterfront on a ten-foot magnetized landscape.
The exhibition features two cutting-edge digital installations that will
delight visitors of all ages.
At Water’s Edge, an eight-minute multimedia experience, introduces visitors to the epic sweep of more than 20,000 years of Brooklyn’s waterfront history and glimpses its future. The installation transports visitors into the landscapes, sights, and sounds of ten moments in the waterfront’s past.
Using Kinect technology, History in Motion drops visitors into ten historic paintings and photographs, records them interacting with historical figures and objects, and weaves their actions into a 60-second movie starring themselves that can be shared on social media.
Join us at BHS Dumbo for this interactive experience of Brooklyn’s waterfront!
About Empire Stores
Situated in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Empire Stores is one of
the few remaining 19th-century warehouses that once lined Brooklyn's
waterfront. Erected between 1869 and 1885, Empire Stores housed
countless tons of coffee, sugar, jute, animal hides, and many other
commodities when Brooklyn was one of the largest commercial
waterfronts in the world. Redeveloped and reopened in 2017, Empire
Stores is now a hub of food, culture, and tech with BHS DUMBO as the
sole cultural institution in the complex.
Thank you to the generous donors whose support make Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO and the upcoming Waterfront exhibition possible:
• American Express
• Bank of America
• Bloomberg Philanthropies
• Dormitory Authority of the State of New York
• Empire State Development
• FHLBank San Francisco
• Fiduciary Trust Company International
• Institute of Museum and Library Services
• Midtown Equities
• M&T Bank
• National Endowment for the Humanities
• The NYC Council, Brooklyn Delegation
• NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
• The Office of the Brooklyn Borough President
• The Office of the Mayor of the City of New York
• The Rockefeller Foundation
• The Thompson Family Foundation
BHS programs are also made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Marketing support provided by Empire State Development’s I LOVE NEW YORK program under the Market NY initiative.
Special thanks to Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation