Nationwide Initiative Celebrates the Country’s Complex History
with Exhibitions, Displays, and Programs

New York, NY, May 26, 2021 – The New-York Historical Society, the oldest museum in New York, announces Civic Season, a new initiative that invites visitors to commemorate the rich, complex history of the American experiment through a wide range of exhibition displays and programs. From Juneteenth through July 4, the offerings explore all facets of U.S. political and civic life—from slavery and emancipation to depictions of the American flag to ongoing struggles for voting and civil rights. Civic Season joins a nationwide effort led by the collaboration of America’s history institutions, Made By Us, and the organization Civics Unplugged to create a new tradition that aims to mobilize Americans to engage with the past, take action in the present, and shape the future through activations in neighborhoods, cities, and social spaces. 

“We are proud to be a part of Civic Season, a nationwide effort to bring attention to important, but sometimes little-known history,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical. “Spearheaded by Made By Us, a collaborative group of history and civics organizations, Civic Season exhibitions and programs at New-York Historical range from portraits of the Toussaints, an enslaved family from Haiti that succeeded in purchasing their freedom in New York, to a major exhibition on the legendary performer Bob Hope’ unique role in entertaining troops overseas during World War II.”

Exhibitions and Installations

Marker, Emblem, Symbol, Signal: Artists Reflect on the Flag | June 11–September 26
In this moment of polarization, Americans have used flags to publicly stake their positions, rally around causes, and declare allegiances. To explore the symbolic possibilities and perils of flags, the New York-based project Art for Artists asked 13 artists to contribute works to an exchange portfolio. 

Lady Pink’s “Vote” Mural | June 11–ongoing
In 2014, when the League of Women Voters of the City of New York organized a voter registration drive outside of City Hall, they commissioned legendary New York graffiti artist Lady Pink to do a live painting session. The result was an exuberant, 8 foot by 12 foot canvas that says “Vote” in richly illustrated letters. This recent addition to New-York Historical’s collection is now on view. 

The Toussaint Family | June 11–July 11
These exquisite miniature portraits from the 1820s are rarely displayed due to their fragility. Having transcended their beginnings under French slavery in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), this remarkable family became well known and respected in 19th-century New York City. 

Meet the Presidents and the Oval Office  | Ongoing
Step into presidential history with our expansive exhibition that showcases a detailed re-creation of the Oval Office and the Meet the Presidents Gallery, which traces the evolution of the executive branch.

Fourth of July | Ongoing
A glorious sea of American flags, crowded streets, and Fifth Avenue skyscrapers, The Fourth of July, 1916 (The Greatest Display of the American Flag Ever Seen in New York, Climax of the Preparedness Parade in May) by Childe Hassam (1859-1935) is a beloved work of American Impressionism and a 2016 gift to New-York Historical from our late Chairman Emeritus Richard Gilder. 

History Responds: A Shot at Hope | Ongoing
On December 14, 2020, Sandra Lindsay, the director of critical care nursing at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, became the first person in the United States to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. New-York Historical was ready to preserve objects related to that historic moment, including Lindsay’s vaccination card, her hospital ID badge, and empty vials of some of the first Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

Cover Story: Katharine Graham, CEO | Now through October 3
Katharine Meyer Graham never expected to become the president, publisher, and CEO of the Washington Post, but she thrived in that position—and even helped end a war and a corrupt U.S. presidency. On view in the Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, this exhibition examines a transformative period in Graham’s life.

Safe/Haven: Gay Life in 1950s Cherry Grove | Now through October 11
In the years before Stonewall, the secluded beach enclave of Cherry Grove on Fire Island was a respite for gay men and women and a safe place for both sexual exploration and self-expression. Explore this fascinating and forgotten history through our free outdoor exhibition showcasing nearly 70 photographs.

So Ready for Laughter: Bob Hope and World War II | Now through September 5
Celebrate legendary performer Bob Hope’s unique role entertaining troops overseas during World War II and the 80th anniversary of the founding of the United Service Organizations (USO).

Dreaming Together | Now through July 25
Explore the possibilities that are unleashed when people, cultures, and institutions dream in tandem in our new exhibition, which interweaves historical American and contemporary Asian and Asian diasporic art. 

Live and On-Demand Programs

Gay Like Me: A Father Writes to His Son  | On-demand starting Thursday, June 3
In a special, intimate conversation with Chelsea Clinton, award-winning Broadway, TV, and film producer Richie Jackson reflects on his experiences as a gay man in America and the progress and setbacks of the LGBTQ community over the last 50 years.

The Gay Revolution: The Story of Struggle | On-demand starting Thursday, June 10
Lillian Faderman joins David Rubenstein to discuss the early days of the gay and lesbian civil rights movement in the 1950s, the revolutionary changes of the 1960s, the AIDS epidemic that left the community decimated but united, and recent setbacks and strides forward for equality.

Queer History of Greenwich Village Virtual Tour  | Saturday, June 12, 8 pm ET
Journey to the heart of the West Village on this virtual tour and experience the neighborhood’s vital place in the queer history of New York City. 

Radical Tenderness: Trans for Trans Portraiture | Monday, June 24, 6 pm ET
Radical Tenderness: Trans for Trans Portraiture, on view at the Alice Austen House Museum, highlights photographic work from four trans and non-binary artists whose portrait photography exudes tender intimacy and calls for a radical shift in visibility politics. Join guest curator, Dr. Eliza Steinbock and participating artist Zackary Drucker for a dialogue about the ways that trans and queer people use artwork to connect with one another, historically and today.

Family Programs

Living History @ Home: What is Juneteenth? | Wednesday, June 2, 3 pm ET
Discover Juneteenth, the annual celebration of the end of American chattel slavery on June 19, 1865. Explore its origins, how it has changed over time, and the many local traditions connected with the holiday. Learn how to make a Juneteenth flag and other festive decorations! All ages

Reading into History @ Home: Troublemaker for Justice | Sunday, June 6, 2 pm ET
Explore the life and impact of Bayard Rustin, a civil rights leader and openly gay man. Talk to one of the co-authors of Troublemaker for Justice, Michael G. Long, and dig into Rustin’s adherence to non-violence and civil disobedience, and his belief in the value of community organizing. Ages 9–12

Living History @ Home: Celebrating Juneteenth | Wednesday, June 9, 3 pm ET
What did a historical Juneteenth celebration look like? Find out how people across the country celebrated Juneteenth and Freedom Day in the late 19th century. Then, settle in to learn songs traditionally sung at Juneteenth celebrations! All ages

Living History @ Home: Cooking for Juneteenth | Wednesday, June 16, 3pm ET
Take a virtual field trip to Genesee Country Village & Museum—the largest and most comprehensive living history museum in New York State—to explore how some African American New Yorkers would have celebrated the end of slavery. Living History Coordinator Cheyney McKnight, along with Historical Helper Millen Shiffer, prepare a celebration feast on a wood burning stove in one of the historic buildings. All ages

Major support for Cover Story: Katharine Graham, CEO is generously provided by Joyce B. Cowin and Roger and Susan Hertog. Additional support is provided by Dana Cowin and Barclay Palmer, Helen and Kenneth A. Cowin, Mary and Kenneth Edlow, and Craig and Dorothy Stapleton. Major support for Safe/Haven: Gay Life in 1950s Cherry Grove is provided by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. So Ready for Laughter: Bob Hope and World War II  is organized by the National WWII Museum, New Orleans, and made possible by the support of the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. Lead support for the installation of the Oval Office provided by Ira Lipman with generous support from Richard Gilder and Leonard Lauder & Judy Lauder. The Meet the Presidents Gallery is made possible by a generous gift from Suzanne Peck and Brian Friedman. Construction of the Oval Office installation is supported, in part, by public funds from Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council as part of our Citizenship Project. 

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.

Civic Season is made possible thanks to the generous support of Marcia Carlucci and AMERICAN HERITAGE® Chocolate.

About 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: Follow the museum on social media at @nyhistory on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr.

About Made By Us 
Made By Us is an unparalleled collaboration between over 100 of the nation’s history museums to better engage Millennials and Gen-Z with American history to inspire, inform, and empower civic participation. Led collectively by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Monticello, the National Archives Foundation, the First Americans Museum, Atlanta History Center, HistoryMiami Museum, Heinz History Center, New-York Historical Society, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, and Missouri Historical Society, Made By Us creates programs and digital platforms to connect young people in every corner of the nation with our shared past, present, and future. For more information, visit or follow @historymadebyus on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

About Civics Unplugged
Civics Unplugged is a nonpartisan, nonprofit social enterprise whose mission is to empower the leaders of Generation Z to build the future of democracy. Civics Unplugged exists to cultivate and grow a digital-first community of young leaders empowered to build the future of American democracy. CU is powered by a community of thousands of Gen Z leaders committed to strengthening democracy through civic entrepreneurship across the U.S. and around the world. For more information, visit or follow @civicsunplugged on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Ines Aslan,
Marybeth Ihle,

Image credits: 1) Civic Season banner. Courtesy of New-York Historical Society. 2) The Oval Office gallery. Courtesy of Glenn Castellano, New-York Historical Society. 3) Living History Coordinator Cheyney Courtesy of Jessica Craig.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Creative: Tronvig Group