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

Check out the latest "Told It First Hand", the bi-monthly conversation with the “do-ers” in Brooklyn and Hip-Hop produced by Brooklyn Bodega, Brooklyn Historical Society and The Hip-Hop Institute. On November 3rd, Wes Jackson sat down with filmmakers One-9 and Erik Parker to discuss their critically-acclaimed documentary Nas: Time Is Illmatic.

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

Calendar of Programs

DECEMBER | JANUARY | FEBRUARY | MARCH | APRIL | FAMILY PROGRAMS


December

The Moth

Mon, Dec 22, 7pm
SOLD OUT!
The Moth StorySLAM returns to BHS! In honor of the street scenes in the exhibit, She said, She said, the theme will be "Streets!" What better inspiration for storytelling than the eclectic mix of raw emotion and impromptu interaction on urban streets?

January

Nell Painter and Sarah Lewis in Conversation Painter & Lewis

Tue, Jan 6, 6:30pm
Free
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In conjunction with BHS' exhibition She said, She said: Art and inspiration in the work of Nell Painter and Lucille Fornasieri Gold, historian-turned-artist Nell Painter sits down with author and cultural historian Sarah Lewis for an intimate discussion about what inspires her work and why she chose to shift her focus to the world of visual art.

Left: Nell Painter, Photo by Robin Holland; Right: Sarah Lewis, Photo by Annie Leibovitz

Many Rivers to CrossScreening: The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, Making a Way Out of No Way (1867-1940)

Tue, Jan 13, 6:30pm
Free
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View Episode Four of the Peabody Award-winning PBS series. This hour explores the Jim Crow era and the Great Migration of eight million African Americans North and West in search of a better life. Making a Way Out of No Way (1897-1940) also spotlights the stories of Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and the Harlem Renaissance.

On the following evening (Wednesday, January 14th), Isabel Wilkerson will be at BHS to reflect, among other things, on the themes in this episode.

                                                                       Photo by Peter Simon


Isabel Wilkerson on the Great Migration Isabel Wilkerson

Wed, Jan 14, 6:30pm
$20 General Admission / $15 for BHS and G-W Members
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Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns speaks about the epic story of The Great Migration. Isabel Wilkerson devoted 15 years to the research and writing of the book and interviewed more than 1,200 people to tell the story of this watershed moment in American history. The Warmth of Other Suns was named to more than 30 Best of the Year lists and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Wilkerson is the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Photo by Joe Henson


Henry Louis Gates, Jr.Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Five Centuries of African American History

*ANNOUNCING NEW DATE*
Thu, Jan 22, 6:30pm
$20 General Admission / $15 for BHS and G-W Members
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Noted Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr., explores the complex history of African Americans, highlighting the vast social, political, and cultural legacies that have emerged from this complicated chapter in American history. Professor Gates' appearance serves as an introduction to the upcoming series of screenings and talkbacks from his Peabody Award-winning PBS series The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.



Book Talk: Eric Foner, Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad Eric Foner

Tue, Jan 27, 6:30pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Eric Foner sits down with BHS Public Historian Julie Golia to discuss his new book, which exposes the little-known stories of the inspiring and courageous figures who, through networks of antislavery resistance that would become known as the underground railroad, helped to usher more than 3,000 fugitive slaves to freedom between 1830 and 1860.


Ai-jen PooThe Future of Elder Care: What We Need for a Changing America

Thu, Jan 29, 6:30pm
$5 General Admission / Free for BHS and G-W Members
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We live in a rapidly changing country – every 8 seconds, someone turns 65 and soon, there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 15. This elder boom is shaping our country in ways we have only begun to define and experience, from our economy to our homes to our understanding of aging itself.

Ai-jen Poo, a 2014 MacArthur “Genius” award winner for her advocacy work championing the rights of home care workers, will lead a panel exploring the changes in culture and policy needed for people to age with dignity, independence, and self-determination. The program will be moderated by Paula Span, who writes the The New York Times' New Old Age blog, and will include individuals on the front lines of elder care: a care worker, a private employer of caregivers in a home setting, and an administrator at a leading senior services agency who oversees a large caregiver workforce. This panel will shine a candid light on the “Careforce” — the millions of caregivers, both family and professional, who care for our nation’s aging seniors.

February

William GreavesMovie Mondays: Remembering Williams Greaves

Mon, Feb 2, 6:30pm
Free
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Award-winning actor Steve Buscemi introduces this groundbreaking 1968 film, for which filmmaker William Greaves blended fiction and documentary to create an experimental landmark that remains one of the most unique and insightful deconstructions of the filmmaking process. A post-screening discussion will follow with Richard Brody of The New Yorker and Shola Lynch, Curator of the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Su Friedrich moderates.

“Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One” courtesy of Janus Films

Screening and Discussion with Jelani Cobb: The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross Jelani Cobb

Thu, Feb 5, 6:30pm
Free
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View the last of our screenings of the Peabody Award-winning PBS series. Episode 6: A More Perfect Union (1968-2013) focuses on recent decades, moving from the civil rights movement and the economic and political forces that isolated the black urban poor, to Reagan’s War on Drugs, Rodney King, Hurricane Katrina, and the election of President Barack Obama. Jelani Cobb, whose writings about race frequently appear in The New Yorker and The New York Times, leads the talkback. Professor Cobb is the director of Africana studies at the University of Connecticut.

Person, Place, Thing with Randy Cohen and Lev Grossman

Wed, Feb 18, 6:30pm
$5 General Admission / Free for BHS and G-W Members
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Emmy Award-winning writer Randy Cohen brings his popular podcast and public radio show back to BHS! This time, he is joined by Lev Grossman, award-winning author of The Magicians and book critic and lead technology writer for TIME.

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

Fri, Feb 20, 7:30pm
$20 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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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 kwilliams@brooklynhistory.org.




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.

March

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

Mon, Mar 2, 6:30pm
Free
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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.


The Gentrification of Brooklyn
... 5 Years Later

Tue, Mar 17, 6:30pm
Free
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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


Exit 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!

Forum: 50th Anniversary of the Landmarks Law with Greg Pasquarelli, SHoP Architect

Mon, Mar 30, 6:00pm
$10 General Admission / $5 for BHS and G-W Members
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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 to follow.


April

Tales from the Vault! Wish You Were Here!

Thu, Apr 2, 6:30pm
Free
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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
Free
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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
Free
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
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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.




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 January 3rd!

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 December 20th!
Click here to reserve tickets for January 10th!

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!

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 December 27th!

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