The New-York Historical Society was established in 1804 as New York’s first museum. Its eleven founders all lived through the turbulent years of the American Revolution and the British occupation of New York. These men believed that New York’s citizens needed to take decisive action to preserve eyewitness evidence of their own historical moment, which they recognized as important, fearing “dust and obscurity” would be the inevitable fate of accounts and artifacts if left in the hands of private individuals. “Without the aid of original records and authentic documents,” they declared, “history will be nothing more than a well-combined series of ingenious conjectures and amusing fables.”
It is in this tradition that New-York Historical has moved forward into the 21st century, offering to visitors a vast collection of art, objects, artifacts and documents to show history’s enduring importance and its usefulness in finding explanations, causes, and insights.