A Love Letter to NYC in Pop Culture at the MCNY
There’s no place like New York. The city has served as an inspiration to artists and everyday people alike for countless decades.
In honor of its centennial, the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) presents “This is New York, 100 Years of the City in Art and Pop Culture,” an interactive exhibition that explores what New York City has meant to people including artists, writers and other creators.
The exhibition highlights how the city has inspired artists over the years and how their interpretations enrich people’s understanding of the city, even if they’ve never been there.
“Around the world, billions of people have an idea of what New York City is because they have learned about the city through movies, television, music, literature, photography and more,” says Sara M. Henry, chief curator and interim director of the Museum of the City of New York. “The city is an object of perpetual fascination that is interpreted and reinterpreted and continues to inspire creators across different genres.”
Through a variety of media, including visual art, television, film and much more, the exhibit grapples with New York’s complex and multifaceted identities. Any visitor, from tourist to long-time resident, will leave the exhibit in love with New York City.
“This is New York” features several key sections, each of which delves into a different facet of the city.
Visitors start their journey in “Tempo of the City,” which looks at how artists have captured the joys and struggles that are evident on the streets of NYC. The pieces in this section highlight how artists have found the city’s heartbeat through the shared spaces of the streets and subways.
Some notable pieces of this section include Berenice Abbott’s Tempo of the City, a black and white photograph from 1938 capturing New Yorkers rushing around in their daily lives, and Carrie Bradshaw’s iconic tutu from Sex and the City, which underscores the idea of the city of a playground and runway.
Don’t leave this area of the exhibition without checking out Songs of NY. Nothing says “heartbeat of the city” quite like music. This interactive map features music inspired by the city’s streets and subways and includes songs representing all five boroughs.
When you step (literally) into this installation, you’ll hear snippets from and learn about over 100 songs from the past century, like Jennifer Lopez’s “Jenny from the Block,” the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Til Brooklyn,” and the theme from New York, New York by Frank Sinatra.
From the streets and subways, you’ll head to “Destination NYC,” a showcase of how artists have represented where New Yorkers spend their free time.
See pieces that represent and depict entertainment districts like Times Square, public parks, beaches and private corners and oases in the city.
After traveling through the streets and subways and visiting the destinations, you’ll make your way back home. “At Home in New York” offers a cozy enclave to explore depictions of home in NYC, both its comforts and challenges.
The centerpiece of this section of the exhibition is the digital bookshelf. The digital bookshelf includes over 20 iconic TV shows and well-loved books. Select a book and watch as it’s brought to life with readings and narrations by big names like Matthew Broderick, Rosario Dawson, Tessa Thompson and more.
“This is New York” also includes You Are Here, a one-of-a-kind immersive film experience created in partnership with RadicalMedia. Presented across 16 screens, the film features over 400 film scenes from films made in and around New York City. This experience includes films from every decade and every borough.
Whether you’ve lived in New York your whole life or you’re just here for a visit, you’re sure to leave “This is New York” with a newfound love and appreciation for New York City and its place both in the realm of pop culture and the hearts of all who pass through.
The exhibition is just one piece of the Museum of the City of New York’s year-long centennial celebration. Be sure to check out the full lineup of exhibitions and schedule of programming.