On the corner of Boerum Place and Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn is what looks like a regular subway entrance. But upon further inspection, it becomes clear that there’s no uptown and downtown platforms here. This is the New York Transit Museum, the largest museum dedicated to urban public transportation in the country. It’s fittingly located inside a decommissioned–but still working–subway station. And over the last 40 years, it has told one of New York’s most important stories–how mass transit and city development are intricately connected and how public transportation is one of the city’s crowning achievements, in spite of its delays and crowded rides.
Gabrielle Shubert has served as the museum’s director for the past 24 years. She transformed a young institution into a go-to destination for learning about and engaging with urban history. From vintage cars to subway fares, Gabrielle has offered visitors a chance to go behind the scenes and marvel at the wonders of New York City’s incredible public transportation system.
On the eve of her retirement, we sat down with Gabrielle in one of the museum’s vintage cars and found out about her early days as director, the range of exhibits and programming she has overseen, and the institution’s bright future.