New York Historical Society Museum

Abraham Lincoln at the New York Historical Society Museum

One of the greatest benefits of living in NJ is our proximity to the greatest city in the world. I recently discovered a jewel of a place in New York City during my travels to visit family and keep up with the literary world. The New York Historical Museum, next to the Museum of Natural History, offers a variety of exhibits, gallery tours, lectures, and presentations that keep me going back for more. Visitors are greeted by a life-size statue of Abe Lincoln as they enter the museum from Central Park West while another sculpture of Frederick Douglas welcomes you to the museum’s restaurant entrance on 78th St.

In January, I visited the museum for a presentation by author, Lisa See. Perhaps best known for her book, "Snowflower and the Secret Fan", See’s writing reflects meticulous research of her ancestors and family’s culture which serves to create realistic portrayals of people, times, and places past. After reading several of her books over the years, I was thrilled for the chance to see and hear her in person. She regaled the audience with riveting accounts of her ancestors’ remarkable journeys between China and America or Gold Mountain as it was known by Chinese immigrants in the 1800s.

Right now, a popular exhibit, Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion explores the centuries-long history of trade and immigration between China and the US. The exhibit includes little-known stories of the lives, achievements, culture, and rich diversity of Chinese Americans. Visitors view photographs, listen to actual immigration interrogations, and sit in a recreated Angel Island barracks where immigrants were held for months and sometimes years. The exhibit continues through April 19, 2015, and can be toured independently or with a guide. Related programs for children include hands-on activities for calligraphy, Chinese food, and literature.

Another popular exhibit open until July 12, 2015, The Freedom Journey 1965, depicts a significant chapter of the journey of the Civil Rights Movement through photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March. Visitors revisit the struggle that paved the way for bringing equality to a country entrenched in the law of "separate but equal".

The four story museum also offers a Children’s History Museum, along with rotating exhibits. As a bonus, the museum’s restaurant Café Storico serves brunch, lunch and dinner and is frequented by locals in the neighborhood.

Visit the New York Historical Society Museum web site for additional information and a calendar of events.

See our complete list of recommended Places To Go & Things To Do.