Current & Upcoming Exhibits 

Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963

April 7, 2016 – May 20, 2016
We March, We Demand 
We March, We Demand.  Image courtesy of Library of Congress

BHS is proud to be one of only 50 venues across the nation to host Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963.

One hundred years separate the Emancipation Proclamation and the March on Washington, yet they are profoundly linked together in a larger story of liberty and the American experience. Both were the result of people demanding justice. Both grew out of decades of bold actions, resistance, organization, and vision. In both we take inspiration from those who marched toward freedom.

Changing America was created to commemorate these two pivotal achievements on their 150th and 50th anniversaries. It explores their historical context, their accomplishments and limitations, and their impact on the generations that followed.

"Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963" is presented by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of American History in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office. The exhibition is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and is part of NEH’s Bridging Cultures initiative, “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,” which brings four outstanding films on the civil rights movement to communities across the United States (see “Created Equal” encourages communities across the country to revisit and reflect on the long history of civil rights in America.

Exhibition Logos

Hidden in Plain Sight: Portraits of Hunger in NYC

November 5, 2015 - November 13, 2016
Hidden in Plain Sight 

Brooklyn-based photojournalist Joey O'Loughlin has spent over two years documenting Food Bank For New York City member agencies, including soup kitchens and food pantries throughout the five boroughs. She has focused her lens on workers, clients, recipients, distribution and meals. O'Loughlin's beautiful and vivid images tell compelling stories about hunger today.

Hear from Dina Garcia, featured in the exhibit:

See more on our Vimeo page!

This exhibition is presented in partnership with:

 Food Bank For New York City

Additional support provided by:

Seth Sprague Educational and Charitable Trust

Personal Correspondents:
Photography and Letter Writing in Civil War Brooklyn

April 9, 2015 - June 19, 2016
Personal Correspondents

Between 1861 and 1865, over 30,000 men departed Brooklyn to fight in the American Civil War. They left behind spouses, sweethearts, parents, children, siblings, and friends. Personal Correspondents: Photography and Letter Writing in Civil War Brooklyn examines how these Brooklynites remembered and communicated with each other, and how they chronicled the war on the home front and the battlefield. Featuring evocative letters and photographs from Brooklyn Historical Society's collection, this exhibition brings to life Brooklynites' everyday experiences during one of the nation's most transformative times.

This exhibition is funded, in part, by:
New York Council for the Humanities

Personal Correspondents was developed in collaboration with Green-Wood as part of a joint programming initiative commemorating the 150th anniversary of the war's end through exhibitions, educational curricula, and public programming.

Brooklyn Sewers: What's Up Down There?

June 9, 2015 - May 29, 2016
Brooklyn Sewers

BHS is pleased to be opening an exhibition that explores one of Brooklyn's oldest and most extensive infrastructure projects: its sewer system. This exhibition tells the story of the creation of the Brooklyn sewer system through a historical look at four corners of Kings County: Flatlands, Bushwick, Coney Island and Fort Greene. Visitors are invited to look beneath the surface into the problems, challenges, and issues that each of these neighborhoods faced in the creation of the sewer system, and the factors that made an integrated municipal system for sewerage an absolute necessity. The exhibition was curated by a team of teen curators who participated in BHS's free afterschool museum studies program known as Exhibition Laboratory, or Ex Lab.

Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom

In Pursuit of Freedom
John Halpern for Brooklyn Historical Society.
January 15, 2014 - Winter 2018

This major, long-term exhibit explores the unsung heroes of Brooklyn's anti-slavery movement -- ordinary residents, black and white -- who shaped their neighborhoods, city and nation with a revolutionary vision of freedom and equality. The exhibit is part of the groundbreaking In Pursuit of Freedom public history project that features new research on Brooklyn's abolition movement in partnership with Weeksville Heritage Center and Irondale Ensemble Project.

Learn more on the exhibition website here.

Brooklyn Abolitionists Website

The Emancipation Proclamation 

Emancipation Proclamation
October 16, 2013 - Winter 2018

View a replica of Brooklyn Historical Society's rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, and examine its dramatic and polemic impact on Americans at the height of the Civil War. The exhibit suggests ways that the document's social and political meaning has evolved in the 150 years since it was signed, and invites visitors to reflect on its legacy in the twenty-first century.

Preserving Historic Brooklyn Heights

Preserving Historic Brooklyn Heights
Photo by Z. Hyman Photography
On November 23, 1965, the newly established New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Brooklyn Heights as the city’s first historic district. That day of triumph was the culmination of a seven-year battle by Brooklyn Heights residents to save the neighborhood they loved and felt to be under siege. Through objects and archival materials, including hand drawn maps, periodicals, and the National Historic Landmark plaque, Preserving Historic Brooklyn Heights celebrates the 50th anniversary of that historic day.

Photo by Z. Hyman Photography


Permanent Collection Installations

Chronicling Brooklyn's Landscapes

Features paintings of Brooklyn from many eras alongside a copy of Brooklyn Historical Society's rare Ratzer Plan of New York.
2nd Floor Parlor

Portraits of Prominent New Yorkers 

Includes paintings from Brooklyn Historical Society's historic collections as well as a recent artist commission by Meredith Bergman, Historia Testis Temporis: Pinky.
2nd Floor Hall and 3rd Floor Landing