Moments and mementos from New York City’s indelible tapestry are currently on display at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit, Collecting New York’s Stories: Stuyvesant to Sid Vicious, opened in January and includes hundreds of photos and items such as drawings, clothing and posters from the museum’s permanent collection.
Pieces from more than a dozen women photographers are part of the show. Among the featured photographs are ethereal chromogenic development prints from Gail Thacker, moody night scenes from Sally Davies, Ruth Orkin’s patriotic parade goers pictured in 1947 and tiny silver gelatin prints from Helen Levitt, who has been described as “the most celebrated and least known photographer of her time.” Levitt’s street photography spanned a better part of the 20th century.
Several pieces from Madoka Takagi – showing beachgoers in Coney Island, Roosevelt Island and Long Island City – are also on display. A native of Japan, Takagi became known for her contact platinum prints made with an 8" x 10" view camera. In a 1993 New York Times review of her work. Charles Hagen wrote that “her quiet, matter-of-fact style and her careful craft invest these commonplace scenes with a surprising dignity.”
Visitors to the museum can also see Barbara Mensch’s dreamy sepia-toned bridge series, Janette Beckman’s environmental portraits including a candid group shot of Run DMC, Peggy Anderson’s serene Subway Readers, Susan Kuklin’s work depicting police officers in the late 1970s, and images of levity from former New York Post photojournalist Martha Cooper.
The city’s poorest neighborhoods had the richest street life and my favorite location was Alphabet City. To an adult’s eye the area was ugly and forbidding, but to a child, the abandoned buildings and rubble-strewn lots made perfect playgrounds.”
The Museum of the City of New York began acquiring photography soon after its founding in 1923, and its current collection includes more than 40,000 images of New York City and the people within the city’s boundaries. Collecting New York Stories is scheduled to run through December 31, 2020.