Abraham Lincoln. Photo: Michele.
The once dimly lit, almost empty lobby is now bright and filled with touch screens displays and items from the society's collection. The seemingly hodgepodge of items on view include lantern slides from the 1920s and 30s (hello John Barrymore, Jean Harlow), busts of Washington and Napoleon, Keith Haring's Pop Shop ceiling, a twisted FDNY engine door from 9/11, and a horrifying pair of slave shackles made for a child. New York Story, a film narrated by Liev Schreiber (it's hard not to think you're watching an HBO special) plays in the auditorium on the largest screen in New York (73 feet wide). There is also a children's museum and restaurant, all of which should help attract more visitors.
As a history geek I didn't mind the place before all the high tech changes so I was quite pleased to enter the fourth floor and find a reminder of the former place—masses of silver, glass, ceramics, Tiffany lamps, and other objects on display in long rows of cases. A clip from King Vidor's The Crowd playing on a small screen near the entrance was a nice touch as well.
Maude Adams. The New York Historical Society.
I don't know if I like all of the changes to the place but I'm all for more people getting introduced to history so hopefully the renovations will draw the crowds and keep the New York Historical Society in business. For more info on the new look, check out their website here.