The Museum of the City of New York fosters understanding of the distinctive nature of urban life in the world’s most influential metropolis. It engages visitors by celebrating, documenting, and interpreting the city’s past, present, and future.
The Museum of the City of New York was founded in 1923 by Henry Collins Brown, a Scottish-born writer with a vision for a populist approach to the city. The Museum was originally housed in Gracie Mansion, the future residence of the Mayor of New York. Hardinge Scholle succeeded Henry Brown in 1926 and began planning a new home for the Museum. The City offered land on Fifth Avenue on 103rd-104th Streets and construction for Joseph H. Freedlander’s Georgian Colonial-Revival design for the building started in 1929 and was completed in 1932. During the next few decades, the Museum amassed a considerable collection of exceptional items, including several of Eugene O’Neill’s handwritten manuscripts, a complete room of Duncan Phyfe furniture, 412 glass negatives taken by Jacob Riis and donated by his son, a man’s suit worn to George Washington’s Inaugural Ball, and the Carrie Walter Stettheimer dollhouse, which contains a miniature work by Marcel Duchamp. Today the Museum’s collection contains approximately 750,000 objects, including prints, photographs, decorative arts, costumes, paintings, sculpture, toys, and theatrical memorabilia.