Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, has announced that the institution will expand its building on Central Park West, adding more than 70,000 square feet of program space for itself and for The American LGBTQ+ Museum, New York’s first museum dedicated to LGBTQ+ history and culture, which will make its permanent home at New-York Historical. The design by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, which was unanimously approved and highly praised by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for its respect for the past and solicitation of community input, will provide New-York Historical with additional classrooms, galleries, collections study areas, and a state-of-the-art compact storage facility for the institution’s renowned Patricia D. Klingenstein Library.
“With great foresight, our Trustees acted in 1937 to purchase the lot adjacent to New-York Historical’s building, knowing that our growing collections and evolving programs for scholars, students, educators, and the public would someday need room to expand,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, New-York Historical’s president and CEO. “Now that day has arrived—and how gratifying it is to realize the dream of telling the American story in all its complexity in state-of-the-art educational spaces and a brand-new gallery dedicated to the struggle for civil rights of the American LGBTQ+ community. Thanks to a generous gift by our longest-serving trustee, Patricia D. Klingenstein, our priceless Library collection will now be housed in optimal conditions within the new building’s foundation. We are extremely grateful to the New York City Council, the Mayor’s Office, New York State, and I LOVE NY for their encouragement and the generous capital funding that will enable us to move forward with construction expeditiously, and to Robert A. M. Stern Architects for the firm’s extraordinary skill and sensitivity.”
“We’re delighted to partner with New York’s foremost museum of history to build a new museum dedicated to an exploration and celebration of the richness and diversity of LGBTQ+ history and culture in America,” said Richard Burns, chair, board of directors, The American LGBTQ+ Museum. “The respect and rigor with which New-York Historical has approached this process, including their consultation with local communities, mirrors our own commitment to building a thoughtful, welcoming, queer, and inclusive experience for our visitors and partners. We look forward to bringing a dynamic new museum to life within this cherished, deeply-respected, and growing New York City landmark.”
“It’s been a privilege to work with the New-York Historical Society to design an expansion of its landmark building, enabling it to extend its broad and vital mission to a growing audience that ranges from local schoolchildren to international visitors,” said Robert A.M. Stern, founder and senior partner of Robert A.M. Stern Architects. “With input from engaged and supportive neighbors and in response to the historic neighboring townhouses, the design of the expansion is sympathetic to the palette and rhythm of the 1908 building and its 1938 additions.” Leading the design team along with Mr. Stern are RAMSA Partners Graham S. Wyatt and Preston J. Gumberich and Senior Associate Kim S. Yap.
While the new building is under construction, The American LGBTQ+ Museum will partner with New-York Historical to develop programming in the Museum’s existing building and outdoor spaces, bringing the voices, perspectives, actions, and achievements of this community to the foreground for hundreds of thousands of annual visitors and New York City schoolchildren. Upon completion, The American LGBTQ+ Museum will occupy the entirety of the expansion’s fourth floor and encompass two galleries, access to the roof garden, and areas for offices and storage.
The addition of onsite classrooms will enable a dramatic expansion of New-York Historical’s service to tens of thousands of New York City public school students. These classrooms will serve the Academy for American Democracy program, an educational initiative for New York’s sixth-grade students that is transforming the way history and civics are taught in middle school.
New galleries and collections study areas will host the graduate students from New-York Historical’s Master of Arts in Museum Studies program, launched in 2019 through a partnership with CUNY’s School of Professional Studies. The program aims to diversify New York City’s cultural workforce, providing students with the knowledge, skills, and preparation to excel as professionals in the museum community.
The collections of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library include many unique items available at no other library in the world, among them rare copies of our nation’s foundational documents. The Library’s two original storage stacks, dating from 1904 and 1937, are outmoded, and the majority of the collection has been moved offsite as a precaution. Construction of new, state-of-the-art compact storage will allow for the rehousing of a substantial part of the collection at New-York Historical’s Central Park West home, making materials readily accessible to Library users.
New-York Historical expects to undertake the expansion as a phased project. The first phase will begin in summer 2022 and will focus on the below-grade library stacks. A second phase will construct galleries, classrooms, and other spaces once target funding is achieved.
This capital project is made possible by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, by Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, and by lead support from the New-York Historical Society’s Board of Trustees. Additional support is provided by Market New York through I LOVE NY/New York State’s Division of Tourism as part of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.
About the New-York Historical Society
New York City’s oldest museum, the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library was founded in 1804. The Patricia D. Klingenstein Library—one of the most distinguished in the nation—fosters research through its outstanding collections, which include more than 10 million items. The Museum presents groundbreaking history and art exhibitions as well as public programs that convey the stories of New York and the nation’s diverse populations to the broadest possible public.
The New-York Historical Society is located at 170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024. Information: (212) 873-3400. Website: nyhistory.org. Follow the museum on social media at @nyhistory on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr.
About The American LGBTQ+ Museum
The American LGBTQ+ Museum preserves, investigates, and celebrates the dynamic histories and cultures of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, as well as those of the emergent and adjacent identities among our communities. Using exhibitions and programs, we seek to advance LGBTQ+ equality through the lens of social justice movements, including, but not limited to, race, gender, class, immigration, and disability. We envision a world in which all people work toward and experience the joy of liberation. We believe the time has come to tell the story of LGBTQ+ people, commemorate and celebrate our journey, and inspire pride. Our mission is to preserve, investigate, and celebrate the dynamic histories and cultures of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, and to advance LGBTQ+ equality through our exhibitions and programming. To learn more, visit thelgbtqplusmuseum.org.