Recommended for ages 6 and up; this gallery guide is for use at the New-York Historical Society
There are stops on the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Floors. We recommend starting on the 4th floor and working your way down, but you and your family may choose to go any order. Boo to you from our crew!
All Hallows Eve—today known as Halloween—marks the beginning of a three-day celebration of the dead that originated as a pagan Celtic celebration and then a Christian holiday. Over time, costumes, candy, and pumpkins became common holiday traditions. Today, Halloween is celebrated throughout the Western world and still marked by dressing in costume and trick-or-treating!
Head to the 4th floor: Begin across from the elevator
Are you feeling athletic this Halloween? Get ready to serve in these tennis whites. Read the label to find out more.
—Who wore it?
—What is this person known for?
Now, ace that serve and strike a pose as this ground-breaking tennis great. Share your photo on social media and make sure to tag us! @nyhistory
Stay on the 4th floor: Find the Women March exhibition
2020 marks the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage (the right to vote). Women March celebrates this landmark Supreme Court decision, as well as the activism that came before and after 1920.
Women activists have dressed up and worn costumes or special accessories over the past 200 years to get recognized and have their voices heard. Find one of these examples (or all three!)
Discuss with your family!
—How did the costumes or accessories help prove the activists’ point?
—Why do you think activists wear costumes or special accessories?
Extra! If you have paper and pencil with you, go ahead and sketch yourself wearing one of these convincing costumes. (Or snap a photo, and draw at home!)
Head to the 2nd floor: Find the exhibition In Profile: A Look at Silhouettes
In the 1800s, silhouettes (dark shape outlines of someone or something visible against a lighter background – sort of like a shadow!) were sometimes used to commemorate people who had passed away.
Look around this gallery with your family. Choose one silhouette to focus on.
—What do you notice about it? Are there any special details?
—Read the label. What new information did you learn?
In the final gallery of this exhibition, have a seat in the “Silhouette Yourself” interactive and have fun creating your own image!
Stay on the 2nd floor: Find the exhibition Life Cut Short near the elevator
Life Cut Short honors and remembers those who have passed on. Find this large wreath.
What is it made out of? (Hint: Look closely at the object or read the label if you are stumped.) Why do you think someone would chose this material to create a memorial?
Stay in the 2nd floor hallway: Find the five large black and white silhouette murals hanging across from the colorful birds
Each silhouette mural represents one part of New York City. What are these parts called? Can you identify all five?
Skeleton’s aren’t always creepy! In the Manhattan mural, find the very old, but not so scary bones of these extinct beasts. (Hint: If you wanted to see them in real life, you could head next door to the American Museum of Natural History.)
What kind of skeletons are they?
Extra! If you have paper and pencil with you, sketch your favorite part of one of the murals. (Or snap a photo and when you get home, be inspired to create a paper-cut citiscape of your block.)
Head to the 1st floor: Find the Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution exhibition
Big sounds, big personalities, and loud clothes are on display in this exhibition. Many of rock & roll’s greats liked to wear wild and attention-grabbing outfits. Choose one photograph of someone wearing something totally farout. Discuss with your family. What do you like about it? What makes the outfit special?
Extra! If you have paper and pencil with you, sketch yourself wearing an outfit inspired by what you see in the photograph. (Or snap a photo and create it when you get home.)
Find this “timeless” New Year’s Eve costume.
Look closely. Describe the costume in detail with your family. What stands out to you about the costume? What colors do you see? What are the different objects that Bill Graham held while wearing this costume?
Now, read the label. What does the costume represent? Why do you think Bill Graham dressed up as this on New Year’s Eve, not Halloween?
Keep exploring the galleries with more themes with our digital family guides.
And join us for online Halloween family programs!