November 2011 Issue
October 27, 2011

New-York Historical Society reopens after major renovation

Source: NYSUT United

After a three-year, $65 million renovation of its Central Park West building, the New-York Historical Society will welcome visitors once again on Nov. 11, Veteran's Day.

The institution will offer free admission from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. to veterans and active service members and to children younger than 13. All visitors will be admitted free after 6 p.m.

Visitors will experience:

  • a welcoming admissions area;
  • a multi-media installation that introduces major themes of American history;
  • a new facility — the DiMenna Children's History Museum and the Barbara K. Lipman Children's History Library — designed to engage young visitors as history detectives;
  • a major special exhibition — "Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn" — an exploration of the interconnections among the American, French and Haitian revolutions;
  • an art exhibition drawn from works in the Society's collection; and
  • an Italian-themed dining facility.

"I believe 11-11-11 — Nov. 11, 2011 — will be marked as the most important date for our Society since its founding 207 years ago," said Roger Hertog, chairman of the New-York Historical Society board.

The building was designed and constructed from 1903-08, and two new wings were completed in 1938. The current renovation is the most ambitious construction project at the historical society since the expansion 73 years ago.

The New-York Historical Society was founded in 1804 in the aftermath of revolutions in America, France and Haiti. The exhibit "Revolution! The Atlantic World Reborn," is the first exhibition to relate the American, French and Haitian struggles as a single global narrative.

Spanning decades of enormous political and cultural changes, from the triumph of British imperial power in 1763 to the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815, "Revolution!" traces how an ideal of popular sovereignty, introduced through the American fight for independence, soon sparked more radical calls for a recognition of universal human rights and set off attacks on both sides of the Atlantic against hereditary privilege and slavery.

Among the astonishing, unforeseen outcomes was an insurrection on the French possession of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), leading to the world's only successful slave revolt and the establishment in 1804 of the first nation founded on the principles of full freedom and equality for all, regardless of color.

The exhibit will travel to venues in the United Kingdom, France and elsewhere in the United States next spring. Educational materials and programs will be distributed internationally, including in Haiti.