Current & Upcoming Exhibitions
On View at BHS DUMBO
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
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. Learn more about this exhibition and BHS DUMBO
On View at 128 Pierrepont St.
The Business of Brooklyn
February 23, 2018 - Winter 2019
conjunction with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, BHS presents The Business of Brooklyn,
an exhibition exploring the past 100 years of business in the borough. The story spans booming factories, family shops, iconic innovation, and labor struggles. The exhibition showcases images and objects from companies large and small that thrived in Brooklyn, including Domino Sugar, Squibb Pharmaceuticals, Schaefer Beer, Drake Bakeries, Abraham & Straus, Gage & Tollner, and many others. It includes numerous artifacts from the Brooklyn Chamber’s history, including a gavel that the Chamber used to convene meetings in the 1920s, the telephone the Chamber used in its first offices at 75 Livingston Street, and a program for the Chamber’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, which honored entertainer Danny Kaye. It also includes treasures from BHS’s collections, including Eberhard pencil sets, Virginia Dare bottles and glasses, coasters and trays from Brooklyn’s illustrious beer brewing history.
This exhibition is presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce in observance of their 100th anniversary.
The Means of a Ready Escape: Brooklyn's Prospect Park
July 13, 2017 - Fall 2018
Prospect Park has never been simply an escape from the city, but a fundamental part of it. This exhibition highlights the one hundred and fifty year social history of Brooklyn’s backyard.
Featuring over one hundred artifacts and documents, it tells the story of the 585 acres of forest, field, and swamp that Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux transformed into an urban oasis,
and how the Park has sustained generations of Brooklynites throughout the borough’s many eras of change.
This exhibition is presented in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance, in celebration of the Park's 150th anniversary.
Funding for this special exhibition is made possible in part by William Coleman, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, Grace Lyu-Volckhausen, Dino Veronese and Earl Weiner
Brooklyn: A New Home, a New Life
May 31, 2018 - Spring 2019
As they watched the Trump administration’s Muslim ban and subsequent restraining orders move closer to the Supreme Court, outgoing Teen Council Members identified immigration as the timely and broad topic for 2018. In responding to their mandate, 2018 Council Members analyzed how concepts of “us” and “them” lead to stereotypes of immigrants and considered how race and immigration have intersected differently across eras. They sought to strike a delicate balance between the range of immigrant experiences across time, culture, and individual life trajectories. Council members grappled with ongoing, unifying themes related to living away from the land of one’s birth— language, cultural fluidity, code switching, and American immigration law and policing. The resultant exhibition, Brooklyn: A New Home, a New Life, features stories about historical Brooklynites: Harriet Judson, John Roebling, Nathan Handwerker, and Shirley Chisholm, as well as Ravi Ragbir, a contemporary immigration activist. The people featured are not all immigrants, but each represent a different lens into the story of American immigrants, and show, without a doubt, how Brooklyn has been shaped by the many international ties within its vibrant and varied communities.
2018 Brooklyn Historical Society Teen Council
The Teen Council is convened through the generous support of Astoria Bank, The Bay and Paul Foundations, Con Edison, the Ferriday Fund Charitable Trust, the Leon Levy Foundation, and the Michael Tuch 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; and supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom
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.
The Emancipation Proclamation
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.
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.
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.