More than 120,000 images from the Museum of the City of New York's Prints, Drawings, Photographs, Maps, and Ephemera collections are currently available on the Collections Portal.
The Photography collection at the Museum consists of more than 300,000 prints and negatives that document New York City and its inhabitants from the mid-19th century to the present. Some of New York's earliest photographic views are represented in the waxed-paper negatives of Victor Prevost, and the proliferation of the medium is exemplified by the Byron Collection of more than 24,000 images chronicling New York life from 1892 through 1942.
The collection is a major repository of the work of several noted photographers, including Jacob Riis, whose collection reveals the Lower East Side's poverty and squalor in the late 19th century; Jessie Tarbox Beals's depictions of turn-of-the century bohemian life in Greenwich Village; and Berenice Abbott's stunning Changing New York, a WPA photographic project, which documents New York City in the 1930s. Additionally, the Museum's voluminous holdings incorporate the LOOK Magazine photographic archives of the magazines New York stories, including photographs by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur Rothstein. Available as of Fall, 2012 is the Alexander Alland collection of images made by Alland documenting ethnic communities throughout New York City in the 1930s and 40s. Many of the images were reproduced in the Alland's books Portrait of New York (1939) and American Counterpoint (1940). Alland, himself known as a socially concerned photographer, was instrumental in the mid-20th century rediscovery of Jacob Riis photography with the Museum of the City of New York's first Curator of Photography, Grace Mayer. For descriptions of additional HIGHLIGHTS OF THE COLLECTION, CLICK HERE.
The Prints and Drawings collection encompasses architectural drawings, cartoons, portraits, mural studies, engravings, lithographs, maps, and fine art prints, and together with the Photography collection comprises one of the most comprehensive assemblies of urban iconography in the world. Its cornerstone is the extraordinary J. Clarence Davies Collection of images of New York City from the 17th through the 19th centuries, starting from the earliest known view of New Amsterdam, depicted in 1625-26. Another major component of the collection is the definitive Harry T. Peters Collection of 2,885 lithographs - many hand-colored - by the 19th-century New York firm of Currier & Ives. Also included in the Prints and Drawings collections is the Martin Wong Collection of New York City Graffiti. This collection was donated to the Museum of the City of New York in 1994 by pioneering graffiti art collector (and painter in his own right), Martin Wong. The collection includes more than 300 objects: some 60 artists black books along with more than 100 canvases and over 150 works on paper. The group documents New Yorks graffiti movement in the 1970s and 1980s; it includes rare works by women artists, along with the earliest surviving examples of work by artists who went on to have important gallery careers, including Lady Pink and Crash. There are currently 272 images available on the Portal; more will become available as we continue to clear the rights to put work online.
The Museum's map collection traces the physical development of the city through early colonial maps of New Amsterdam, important Revolutionary era maps, 19th century real estate maps, and topical late 19th century and early 20th century maps illustrating such subjects as transportation, water supply, population, and the five boroughs of New York City. As of the fall of 2012, the Museum of the City of New York has added nearly 200 maps to the existing collection of maps available online, including larger format maps whose image capture is now possible with the Museum’'s acquisition of a wide angle lens. These include Thomas H. Poppleton's 1817 Plan of New York. The latest addition to the online map collection also includes a selection of maps relating to the real estate trade and real estate auction broadsides.
Additionally, the Museum has begun to digitize its Ephemera collections, including a large collection of postcards offering views of New York and its environs from the late 19th century into the 21st century. In Fall, 2012, more than 700 political and civic badges were added to the online collection. This collection includes various types of ribbons, badges, and pins, depicting a broad variety of events and affiliations. Amongst these items are political buttons and pins, intramural sports association ribbons, literary society ribbons, badges worn at ceremonies such as the celebration of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, and funerary ribbons worn for individuals such as Mayor John Purroy Mitchel. Additionally, the collection includes excellent examples of ornate badges; these include Tammany Sachem badges and fire badges with hanging charms such as lanterns and buckets. While the collection is strongest in the mid- to late-19th and early 20th centuries, it also includes some more contemporary content, including a selection of counterculture pins from the 1960s and 1970s, and political buttons dating up through the late 20th century.
The Theater collection is now well represented on the Portal, with around 3,000 photographs by the studios Lucas-Monroe and Lucas-Pritchard. In 1936, photographer George W. Lucas and former White Studio business manager Irving Pritchard set up a studio to capitalize on and capture New Yorks thriving theatrical scene. Joined by photographer Edward Thayer Monroe, the Lucas-Prichard Studio (later Lucas-Monroe) shot thousands of theater stills and studio portraits capturing nearly 300 different productions from 1936 to the early 1950s. The studios archive of negatives and prints was given to the Museum in 1980 by John Bennewitz. Images now available represent a cross section of the studios various subjects. Portrait sitters include a wide range of entertainers from Ethel Merman to Paul Robeson, Orson Welles, and Vincent Price. Production stills document the lighter fare of Gilbert and Sullivans work as performed on the New York stage, as well as dramatic heavy weights such as Clifford Odetss original production of The Country Girl and Tennessee Williamss The Glass Menagerie. The studio also took candid shots capturing musical recording sessions, cast parties, and other show-related events documenting some of the back-stage life of theatrical celebrity.