The Museum of the City of New York is celebrating its 100th anniversary with an exhibit called “This Is New York,” which captures the city’s pop culture from the past century. The exhibit includes everything from paintings and photography to fashion and books, and showcases the messy and complicated nature of New York City. Visitors can step on an illuminated outline of one of the five boroughs and hear a song from that borough, or take a book off the shelf and listen to Lea DeLaria reading “Harriet The Spy.” The exhibit brings together the fictional and factual elements that make New York both loved and hated.
As detailed in NPR’s Jennifer Vanasco, the Museum of the City of New York’s exhibition “This Is New York” celebrates pop culture’s depiction of the city and explores everything that makes it a place people both love and love to hate. The exhibit captures a century of pop culture, from silent films and early phonographs to CGI and streaming everything, as well as paintings, photography, fashion, and books.
New York City is one of the most iconic cities in the world, known for its crowded streets, glamorous lifestyle, and everything in between. Lilly Tuttle, one of the curators of the exhibit, describes the city as “the most American and least American city.” She says how people see New York City is messy, with its mix of crowded, dirty, smelly, rude, cacophonous places, and glamorous, wonderful, glitzy, fabulous, elegant, and cool places all at once.
The exhibit blends the fictional and factual elements of New York City, just as they tend to do in real life. Visitors can see a lamppost from “Sesame Street,” an Edward Hopper painting set in a lonely movie theater, a photo of boys jumping into the East River, or a 1953 film of an elevated train racing through the sky set to Duke Ellington’s “Daybreak.” Visitors can also step on an illuminated outline of one of the five boroughs and hear a song from that borough, such as Jennifer Lopez’s “Jenny from the Block” from the Bronx or Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” from Staten Island.
In another room, visitors can pick up a book off the shelf, place it on a scanner, and hear Lea DeLaria reading “Harriet The Spy.” The exhibit captures the city’s grit and style, its diversity and contradictions, and the way pop culture has both shaped and been shaped by New York City.
The Museum of the City of New York is celebrating its hundredth anniversary, and “This Is New York” is a fitting tribute to the city’s rich cultural history. The exhibit showcases the city’s enduring appeal and its ability to capture the imagination of people around the world through movies, TV shows, songs, books, and more. Whether you’re a New Yorker or someone who feels like you’ve lived there because you’ve seen it on a screen so often, this exhibit is a must-see celebration of everything that makes New York City unique and unforgettable.