Though Pride 2021 has come to a close, celebrating LGBTQ+ history remains crucial, as do the community’s struggles for equal rights under the law and diverse cultural recognition. In support of these aims, the New-York Historical Society (N-YHS) announced plans for a 70,000-square-foot expansion to its building on Central Park West, adding program space that will include a permanent home for the American LGBTQ+ Museum.
This will be New York’s first museum dedicated to LGBTQ+ history and culture. Its purpose includes the intention to illuminate LGBTQ+ history as integral to human history and preserve artifacts, personal stories, and intangible heritage that are being lost every day. The institution also aims to educate communities on the evolving, complex, and sometimes internally contentious narratives of LGBTQ+ history; provide a physical space for LGBTQ+ people that fosters individual dignity and unifies across generations and differences; and support a new generation of activists to advance social change. A planning task force was assembled in 2017 to ideate plans for the museum — efforts that are now coming to fruition at the N-YHS.
Cross-section of the New-York Historical Society’s expansion project (image by Robert A.M. Stern Architects)
The design for the new wing is by Robert A.M. Stern Architects and was unanimously approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for “its respect for the past and solicitation of community input.” The expansion will provide N-YHS with additional classrooms, galleries, collections study areas, and a state-of-the-art compact storage facility for the institution’s existing Patricia D. Klingenstein Library.
Rendering of the New-York Historical Society’s expansion project, as seen from West 76th Street (image by Alden Studios for Robert A.M. Stern Architects)
In 1937, the N-YHS trustees purchased an adjacent lot to its Upper West Side building, “knowing that our growing collections and evolving programs for scholars, students, educators, and the public would someday need room to expand,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, N-YHS’s president and CEO.
“Now that day has arrived — and how gratifying it is to realize the dream of telling the American story in all its complexity in state-of-the-art educational spaces and a brand-new gallery dedicated to the struggle for civil rights of the American LGBTQ+ community,” she added.