Renovated home for Brooklyn Historical Society
November 1, 2013
To commemmorate their 150th anniversary this year, the Brooklyn Historical Society celebrated last week renovations to their home on Pierrepont Street with a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception. The $5.2 million upgrades include new classroom space with cutting-edge technology, two new gallery spaces, and an updated and revitalized 200-seat auditorium.
The renovations will allow the organization to host even more public programming, while their new 35-seat classroom will help expand education efforts to Brooklynites and beyond.
“We have a long-standing set of relationships with schools and teachers throughout the City. We see thousands of students every year and we have always had to find creative ways to provide them the best experience but we’ve never had a proper classroom. Now we can begin figuring out art making projects or discussions that take place within the classroom,” said Deborah Schwartz, President of the Brooklyn Historical Society. “For the first time we’re launching a set of family classes, along with continuing our classes for K-12, college students, and the general public.”
On top of improving education and services, the renovations created space for a retail shop in the museum, selling goods from Brooklyn artisans, including jewelers, chocolatiers, and photographers. The shop will also feature a collection of books on Brooklyn history, architecture, and other topics relating to current exhibitions in the museum.
“Right now there’s a photography exhibition for the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, and our very rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, is on display,” said Schwartz. “We’ve always had a few spaces in the building that we have used as galleries but they’ve been very small and not enough. With this renovation we’ve been able to open up two new beautiful gallery spaces, and so that’s a very significant change for us.”
The original auditorium in the 1878 George Post building, a 200-seat space featuring wood ceilings and carved columns, was also updated and reclaimed, though its history and beauty remain untouched. The renovations added a stage, overhead projector capabilities, and a new audio system to the auditorium that allow the Society to host films, spoken word, and musical performances with state-of-the-art technology and sound.
To take advantage of their updated auditorium, the Society has launched a new speaking series, Brooklyn on Brooklyn, which brings together two Brooklynites and places them in conversation with one another. The first conversation this week featured Mark Morris Dance Group’s founder paired with fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, and the next event on November 19th will include New York Public Radio CEO Laura Walker with stand-up comic Ophira Eisenberg. For a complete listing of the Brooklyn Historical Society’s new programs and events, visit their calendar here. For more information on current and upcoming exhibitions, click here.