January 19, 2012

field trip: new york historical society

Shame on me. No, seriously, shame on me. Here I am, a history major, and not just a history major but someone who reads history for fun, living in New York for eight months now, totally avoiding the Historical Society.
As much as I love history, Historical Societies can be a little...dry. I'm good with wandering around halls reading plaques and looking at aged and ancient things big and small, but my children, and, ok, my husband too, they don't really love it. It's really not fun being the one who wants to read all those little plaques when everyone grows more and more bored and more and more impatient. And also, we visited the Museum of the City of New York in the fall and, to be honest, it was kind of a dud. Mostly because about 80% of it was under construction, but still.
The New York Historical Society, however, is one humdinger of a museum. It might be my new favorite museum here, although my old favorite, the Jewish Museum, is pretty awesome, hard to decide.
Briton and I spent the morning there. We're currently making the transition in our history studies from the Post Revolutionary Era (Continental Congresses and new monetary systems and the War of 1812 oh my) to 1800's New York and it seemed like a good place to go. The history highlight of the trip was seeing the original Stamp Act and looking at the various coins issued by the new states after the war. They also had a great exhibit on how the Haitian, French and American Revolutions were tied together, an excellent children's history museum and children's history library in the basement and an outstanding movie about the history of the city. I took notes for the rest of our history year.

So if you're in the city, and you happen to be bumming around the west side, go. It's not your average dry old Historical Society. It's worth it to see the movie alone but is also just the right size for an easy afternoon of museuming.