Public Programs

Brooklyn Historical Society offers a wide array of public programming that celebrates the diversity of Brooklyn's past and present and takes a close look at where the borough is headed. With panel discussions with Brooklyn luminaries, screenings of classic and groundbreaking films, thought-provoking talks on Brooklyn's history from new perspectives, family art and dance activities, and more, BHS has something for everyone.

Recently at BHS

On December 4th, New York Times reporter Andrea Elliott sat down with Andrea Bernstein of WNYC to take a look back at what has, or hasn't, happened since her powerful five-part series Invisible Child was published in December 2013. The series introduced us to 11-year-old Dasani and exposed the harsh realities of childhood poverty in NYC.

For more BHS public programs you can watch from home, browse our Vimeo page.

Calendar of Programs



Brooklyn BohemeSunday Screenings: Brooklyn Boheme

Every Sunday in February, 3pm
*Please note that the screening will begin at 2pm on Sunday, February 22nd.*
Free with Museum Admission
In honor of Black History Month, BHS is proud to screen the critically-acclaimed documentary Brooklyn Boheme every Sunday in February. Narrated and written by Fort Greene resident Nelson George, this feature length film celebrates the vibrant African American artistic community that thrived in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill during the 1980′s and 90′s. Through interviews with some of the legendary artists who called these neighborhoods home, including Spike Lee, Chris Rock, and more, we get an intimate glimpse into an inspiring and dynamic period in Brooklyn's history.

Francis Poulenc IIBrooklyn Art Song Society Presents Les Six: Francis Poulenc II

Fri, Feb 20, 7:30pm $25 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
Reserve tickets>>
BHS is proud to host the conclusion of a five-part concert series celebrating the work of Les Six, a group of innovative French composers who helped change the course of music in the early 20th century. Hear gifted vocalists bring composer Francis Poulenc’s work to life. To receive the member price, e-mail

A Two-Part Conversation About Branden Jacobs-Jenkins' AN OCTOROON An Octoroon

Part One: Theatre’s Changing Face of Race
Location: Brooklyn Historical Society
Sun, Feb 22, 5pm
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Join us for a behind-the-curtains looks at Theatre for a New Audience’s upcoming production of Soho Rep’s AN OCTOROON, winner of the 2014 Obie Award for Best American Play. Playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins and director Sarah Benson discuss the lives and portrayals of mixed-race individuals in 19th century America with artist and historian Nell Painter (Princeton) and Ann Morning (NYU). Professor Ayanna Thompson (George Washington University, TFANA Council of Scholars) moderates.

Part Two: 21st Century Artists/19th Century America
Location: Polonsky Shakespeare Center
Sun, Mar 1, 4:30pm
Learn more about this conversation here.

Temple, K'wan, ProdigyTold It First Hand: Conversations with Hip-Hop's "Do-ers"

Wed, Feb 25, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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Brooklyn Bodega’s Wes Jackson sits down with Albert Johnson, a.k.a. Prodigy of Mobb Deep, best-selling author K’wan, and Johnny Temple of Akashic Books to talk about Hip-Hop’s next frontier: the literary world.

Hidden Brooklyn: African Art Collection

Thu, Feb 26, 6:30pm
$15 General Admission / $10 for BHS and G-W Members
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Over 40-plus years, Brooklynite Eric Edwards has amassed one of America’s largest private collections of African art and artifacts, with approximately 1600 works spanning four thousand years displayed in his Clinton Hill loft. Join us for a rare and exciting opportunity to view a collection with incredible depth and breadth, and meet a collector with extraordinary focus, dedication, passion, and expertise. Artist and African art collector Danny Simmons will moderate our conversation with Mr. Edwards.


Chronicle of a SummerMovie Mondays: “Making Waves in Film, Then and Now” with Chronicle of a Summer

Mon, Mar 2, 6:30pm
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Join us for the first in a series of screenings and discussions that connects Brooklyn filmmakers today with innovators of the past. Filmmakers Alex Mallis and Keith Miller of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective share their original nonfiction shorts that take a candid look at issues of race in Brooklyn, and introduce a film they selected as inspiration—the groundbreaking 1961 film Chronicle of a Summer, a pioneer in the cinéma vérité movement.

“Chronicle of a Summer” courtesy of Janus Films

Zephyr TeachoutBook Talk: Zephyr Teachout, Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United

Tue, Mar 3, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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While the term "corruption" seems simple enough, it has held wildly different definitions for our nation’s courts throughout history. Author, legal scholar, and former gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout explores how the Supreme Court’s interpretation of political corruption has evolved over the centuries and argues that recent decisions pose vital threats to the integrity of our democracy.

A Path AppearsBook Talk and Signing: Nicholas D. Kristof, A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity

Thu, Mar 5, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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New York Times op-ed columnist and Pulitzer Prize-winner Nicholas D. Kristof takes an expansive look at the ways organizations and individuals tackle social injustice around the world, and explores how we all can become more engaged and effective global citizens.  Book signing follows.

Women and PowerWomen and Power: Catherine Beecher, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Shirley Chisholm, and Angela Davis

Wed, Mar 11, 6:30pm
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Catherine Beecher (1800-1878) promoted girls’ education and popularized the domestic ideal. Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (1890-1964) advocated socialism as the solution to women’s oppression and fought for the right of free speech. Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005), an African-American activist from Brooklyn, served in Congress, and ran for President of the U.S. in 1972. Best known for her advocacy of black power, Angela Davis (b. 1944), became an important theorist of the intersections between race and class.

Departing from familiar stories of first ladies and women winning the vote, a dynamic panel of biographers will consider how their subjects exercised power in an often hostile environment and advocated changes in American society. Our panelists include Cindy Lobel (Catherine Beecher), Lara Vapnek (Elizabeth Gurley Flynn), Barbara Winslow (Shirley Chisholm), and Robyn Spencer (Angela Davis).

Martha HodesBook Talk: Martha Hodes, Mourning Lincoln

Thu, Mar 12, 6:30pm
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Public responses to Lincoln’s assassination have been well chronicled, but prize-winning historian Martha Hodes is the first to delve into personal and private responses—of African Americans and whites, Yankees and Confederates, soldiers and civilians—investigating the story of the nation’s first presidential assassination on a human scale. Black freedom, the fate of former Confederates, and the future of the nation were at stake for everyone, whether they grieved or rejoiced when they heard the news. 

Dexter WimberlyThe Gentrification of Brooklyn... 5 Years Later

Tue, Mar 17, 6:30pm
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Dexter Wimberly, curator of the 2010 MoCADA exhibition, The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks, moderates a discussion about gentrification and what it means to be a working artist in Brooklyn today. Several of the exhibiting artists will discuss how they've survived (or thrived) in the years since the exhibition, and share how their art has been influenced by the rapid changes in the borough. Panelists include artists, Oasa Sun DuVerney, Nathan Kensinger, Sarah Nelson Wright, and MoCADA's Executive Director, James Bartlett.

Mark Chiusano & Yelena AkhtiorskayaLiterary Debuts from the Deep South (of Brooklyn)

Wed, Mar 18, 6:30pm
$5 General Admission / Free for BHS and G-W Members
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Mark Chiusano’s stories in Marine Park, and Yelena Akhtiorskaya’s novel, Panic in a Suitcase, explore community and family life in two Brooklyn neighborhoods that haven’t received as much ink as their northern neighbors: Marine Park and Brighton Beach.  These young, Brooklyn-bred authors will read from their recently published books and discuss their literary and geographic influences. Brooklyn-born author Tim McLoughlin moderates.

Left: Mark Chiusano, Photo by Charlotte Alter; Right: Yelena Akhtiorskaya, Photo by Sarah Shatz

Screening and Discussion with Mary Dore: She's Beautiful When She's Angry  Lavender Menace

Thu, Mar 19, 6:30pm
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Join us for a screening of She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry and a talkback with director/producer Mary Dore. She’s Beautiful resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971, and takes us from the founding of NOW, with ladies in hats and gloves, to the emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation.

Photo by Diana Davies

Lehman, Hopkins, SchwartzExit Interview: Karen Brooks Hopkins and Arnold Lehman

Tue, Mar 24, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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Together, they have provided over 50 years of arts leadership in Brooklyn, and were instrumental in transforming local venues into pacesetting and internationally respected institutions. On the eve of their coincidentally concurrent retirements in June, Karen Brooks Hopkins and Arnold Lehman will reflect on their years leading the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Brooklyn Museum, respectively, and how their institutions catalyzed—and responded to—a rapidly changing Brooklyn.  BHS President Deborah Schwartz moderates.

Hidden Brooklyn: UrbanGlass  UrbanGlass

Thu, Mar 26, 6:30pm
$15 General Admission / $10 for BHS and G-W Members
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Founded in 1977, UrbanGlass is the largest open-access studio for artists creating with glass in the United States. In addition to touring their state-of-the-art facility in Fort Greene, which is not normally open to the public, tour-goers will meet a local glass artist who will demonstrate glassblowing and discuss his/her creative process. Oh…and we’ll also receive a 10% discount for any purchases at the facility’s onsite exhibition/retail space!

A Landmark in Transition: SHoP Architect Gregg Pasquarelli

Mon, Mar 30, 6:00pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
Reserve tickets>>
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of NYC’s Landmarks Law, BHS and the New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation are co-sponsoring this forum. Reception precedes the program.


Tales from the Vault! Wish You Were Here!

Thu, Apr 2, 6:30pm
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Take a trip to a Brooklyn of the past! BHS Map Cataloger Lisa Miller will conduct a tour through maps and guides for 19th century Brooklyn, as the city experienced rapid expansion and a steady influx of new Brooklynites. This expansion and prosperity coincided with a rise in leisure travel, so there will be an excursion via guides and maps to see what destinations a prosperous Brooklynite might have chosen for a summer’s outing.

Movie Mondays: “Making Waves in Film, Then and Now” with The 400 Blows

The 400 BlowsMon, Apr 6, 6:30pm
Reserve tickets>>

Join us as we continue our series of screenings and discussions that connect Brooklyn filmmakers today with innovators of the past. Filmmaker Jeremy Engle of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective shares his NYC coming of age story Mosquito, and introduces one of his inspirations—François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, a strikingly honest portrayal of childhood and one of the founding films of the French New Wave.

“The 400 Blows” courtesy of Janus Films

Dutch Colonial Brooklyn: An Intimate Glimpse

Wed, Apr 8, 6:30pm
$5 General Admission / Free for BHS and G-W Members
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BHS and the Brooklyn Museum join forces to explore the lives of Brooklyn’s founding families. Kevin Stayton, the Museum’s Chief Curator, will discuss several rare items from the Brooklyn Museum Library’s Special Collections, including an 1812 diary written by Jane Schenck, an 1891 travel diary by William Edward Schenck, and a recent acquisition of an 1872 genealogy documenting the Schenck Family in Europe and America. Then, examining handwritten recipe books, seventeenth-century Dutch bibles, and other rich materials from the Lefferts family papers, BHS Director of Public History Julie Golia will reveal how the collections of one Brooklyn family can teach us important lessons about Brooklyn’s agrarian past.

If These Walls Could Talk If These Walls Could Talk

Sun, Apr 12, 2 pm
$50 General Admission / $35 for BHS and G-W Members
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Elizabeth Call returns to BHS for her immensely popular introduction to Brooklyn house research. In this intensive workshop you’ll gain hands-on experience conducting house research in our library, using archival images, records, and documents, uncovering the secret history of your Brooklyn home or block!

Image citation: [Flushing Avenue, Bushwick}, 1922, V1974.1.192; Eugene L. Armbruster photographs and scrapbooks collection, V1974.1; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The Greening of Brooklyn: Exploring New Parks and Unexpected Spaces

Wed, Apr 15, 6:30pm
$5 General Admission / Free for BHS and G-W Members
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Brooklyn is going from gritty to green. Robin Lynn, co-author of the Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes, moderates a conversation between landscape architect Matthew Urbanski of Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates (the design firm responsible for Brooklyn Bridge Park); Milton Puryear, a founder of Brooklyn Greenway Initiative (the force behind the effort to unite park spaces along the northern Brooklyn waterfront); and others.

Part of the “Nature in Our Midst” program series with Green-Wood Cemetery.

Extreme Brooklyn Trivia: All Star Edition

Thu, Apr 16, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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The result of an unprecedented détente between two trivia titans, the Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection and the BHS Trivia Masters are joining forces to present the mother-lode of Brooklyn-inspired trivia, while raising the bar to the heavens for all future pub trivia competitions. This multi-round, multi-media competition is not for the faint of heart, but should be edifying (and fun!) for nerds of all abilities and Brooklyn lovers of even the most recent vintage.

Brooklyn and the Bees: Talk and Taste with Borough Bees

Thu, Apr 23, 7:00pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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You’ve heard of urban gardening, but have you heard of urban beekeeping? Timothy O’Neal of Borough Bees gives us the history and know-how behind this increasingly popular enterprise that is quickly joining the illustrious ranks of Brooklyn-made gastronomy. Deliciously sweet tastings included!

Presented in partnership with Brooklyn Brainery.

Zine Fest 2015

Sat, Apr 25 & Sun, Apr 26
11 am – 6 pm
The Brooklyn Zine Fest returns to BHS for a second year, showcasing self-published magazines by independent writers, artists, and publishers from the five boroughs and beyond. Featuring a different line-up of 75 exhibitors, workshops and panel talks each day.

Roses: Tracing the American Beauty’s Roots in NYC with Stephen Scanniello  Stephen Scaniello

Tue, Apr 28, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
Reserve tickets>>
The earliest gardens and conservatories of old New York from Harlem to Brooklyn Heights overflowed with roses. As a result of the efforts of rose preservationists, these same roses are once again filling our neighborhoods with intoxicating fragrances. Learn all about the little-known lore and deep-rooted history of these American beauties from Stephen Scanniello, Curator for the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden and the President of the Heritage Rose Foundation.

Part of the “Nature in Our Midst” program series with Green-Wood Cemetery.

Brooklyn Historical Society requires 24 hours notice before the date of the event to refund a ticket. No refunds are provided after that point. This means no refunds are provided on the day of the event and all subsequent days.

Family Programs

Sing Back, Brooklyn! With Lloyd H. Miller

1st Saturday of the month, 11am-12pm
October through May  
Ages 5-10, Free, BHS Great Hall
Click here to reserve tickets for March 7th!

A monthly sing-a-long event for the whole family featuring songs, stories, skits, movies, and more. Join Lloyd H. Miller in singing and dancing about Brooklyn's fun and sometimes quirky history!

Handmade History!

2nd & 3rd Saturday of the month, 11am-12pm
October through May
Ages 5-10, Free, BHS Classroom
Click here to reserve tickets for February 14th!
Click here to reserve tickets for February 21st!

Get inspired! After visiting one of BHS' galleries, participants can let their creativity run wild with a fun art making project that they can take home with them!

*Please note that space is limited for this program, so make sure to reserve your spot as soon as possible! We also ask that you arrive a few minutes before the program starts to settle in.  Reservations will be released to the wait-list at 11:00am.*

Brooklyn Family Boogie!
With Together in Dance

4th Saturday of the month, 11am-12pm
October through May
Ages 5-10, Free, BHS  Great Hall
Click here to reserve tickets for February 28th!

Now the whole family can move and groove in tune with Brooklyn history! This unique workshop will use our borough's diverse past to inspire creative movement in children and parents alike.

Together in Dance

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