This exhibit celebrates 100 years of art and pop culture in NYC

May 25, 2023

Richard Estes. M Train on Route to Manhattan Approaches the Williamsburg Bridge. 1995. Copyright Richard Estes, courtesy Louis K. Meisel Gallery

A new exhibition shares more than a century’s worth of creativity inspired by New York City. The Museum of the City of New York’s “This is New York: 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture” highlights what NYC has meant to generations of artists, musicians, writers, storytellers, and filmmakers who have captured the essence of the five boroughs through their work. The exhibition, which celebrates the museum’s centennial is on view at the museum at 1220 Fifth Avenue from Wednesday, May 26 through June 21, 2024.

Photo courtesy of Brad Farwell for MCNY

Spanning across the museum’s entire third floor, the exhibition is broken up into a few themed sections. The first section, “Tempo of the City,” shows how artists have represented different aspects of the joy and struggles that can be seen on the streets of NYC. Items from this section include Jimi Hendrix’s handwritten notebook, storyboards from Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, and Songs of NY, an interactive map that features music inspired by the city and includes snippets from songs like The Ramone’s Rockaway Beach, Wu-Tang Clan’s C.R.E.A.M., and Jennifer Lopez’s Jenny from the Block.

William Low. Chinatown Apartment Painting. 1997. Copyright 2023 William Low

The next section, “Destination NYC,” shines a light on how artists have represented the places where New Yorkers spend their free time, from the city’s countless bars, and restaurants, to public parks, beaches, and even street corners. Key items in this section include Edward Hopper’s New York Movie, Romare Bearden’s Jammin’ at the Savoy, and Salmon Toor’s Bar Boy.

At Home in Harlem, New York with James Reynolds and Son Jerome Williams, from the series “Father Figure: Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood”. 2011. Copyright Zun Lee. All Rights Reserved.

“At Home in New York” features art that offers a glimpse into the home life of New Yorkers, displaying both its comforts and challenges. This section includes original artwork, photographs, manuscripts, and other items alongside an interactive digital bookshelf featuring shows like The Jeffersons, The Honeymooners, and Living Single, with voice excerpts from celebrities like Matthew Broderick, Rosario Dawson, Tessa Thompson, and more.

Lastly, “You Are Here” offers a unique immersive film experience that features footage from more than 400 film scenes made around the five boroughs. Curated with a committee of film scholars, programmers, and experts, the experience includes scenes from classic movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’sComing to America, Do the Right Thing, The Warriors, Uncut Gems, King Kong, and many more. Located outside the screening room is Scenes from the City, a carefully curated selection of behind-the-scenes shots featuring productions filmed on location in NYC.

Melissa O’Shaughnessy. Sikh Parade. 2018. Courtesy Melissa O’Shaughnessy

Arthur Rothstein, John Vachon, and Michael “Tony” Vaccaro for LOOK magazine. [Woman walking by Bergdorf Goodman]. 1952. Museum of the City of New York. The LOOK Collection. Gift of Cowles Magazines, Inc., X2011.4.11919.103

“Around the world, billions of people have an idea of what New York City is because they have learned about the city through movies, television, music, literature, photography, and more. The city is an object of perpetual fascination that is interpreted and reinterpreted and continues to inspire creators across different genres,” Sarah M. Henry, the Robert A. and Elizabeth Rohn Jeffe Chief Curator and Interim Director at MCNY, said.

“In honor of the Museum of the City of New York’s centennial – and to underscore our role as NYC’s storyteller—we’re thrilled to present This Is New York, an exciting new exhibition celebrating the city’s vibrant art and pop culture scene over the past century and showcasing works from artists, musicians, and other creators who have helped define the city’s cultural identity.”

Charles Addams. Subway Hand. August 1987. ©1987 Charles Addams. With permission Tee & Charles Addams Foundation.

This is New York was curated by Sarah M. Henry, Monxo López, Frances A. Rosenfeld, and Lilly Tuttle, with help from Centennial Research fellow Naomi Fischer.


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