Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO comes to Empire Stores

The Brooklyn Historical Society is jumping on the DUMBO bandwagon opening its second location, Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO, on May 19, 2017

Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO comes to Empire Stores


The Brooklyn Historical Society is jumping on the DUMBO bandwagon opening its second location, Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO, in the Empire Stores complex, a 19th century warehouse that has recently been renovated on Water Street on May 19, 2017.

The inaugural exhibition in the new space, Shifting Perspectives: Photographs of Brooklyn's Waterfront, features the work of twenty-five photographers, including Berenice Abbott, Rudy Burckhardt, Bruce Davidson, Chester Higgins, and Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao. In December 2017, the major, long-term exhibition, Waterfront, will explore the interwoven stories of workers, artists, industries, activists, innovators, families, neighborhoods, and ecosystems to tell the global and local history of Brooklyn's waterfront.

Given the rich history of its location, BHS DUMBO has an unparalleled opportunity to share with visitors Brooklyn's past and present through an exploration of the waterfront's significance. In the eighteenth century the half-mile span of East River was an insurmountable border between the agricultural hamlet of Brooklyn and the budding metropolis of Manhattan, until the advent of the steam ferry. In the nineteenth century Brooklyn grew rapidly, its coast -- from DUMBO to Red Hook -- lined with warehouses filled with countless tons of goods – from coffee to cotton to sugar – transported from port cities around the globe.

At that bustling time the Empire Stores warehouse was built, but since the mid-20th century it stood empty and shuttered, a symbol of Brooklyn's deindustrialization. In 2013, Brooklyn Bridge Park and Midtown Equities announced plans for an adaptive reuse of the former warehouse, which included BHS's new satellite museum, the only interpretive space in the complex.

Empire Stores in 2006 prior to renovation. Photo by Mark D Phillips

On the occasion of its 150th anniversary four years ago, BHS set out to reimagine the meaning of its mission to connect Brooklyn's past to its present. Since then, the institution has undergone considerable programmatic growth through exhibitions, education programs, and public evening programs at its Pierrepont St. location in Brooklyn Heights.

The momentum of this growth now extends to the opening of BHS DUMBO, where the millions of tourists and visitors who walk through Brooklyn Bridge Park each year will be exposed to installations and exhibitions that inform them of the site's rich history.

In addition to the inaugural exhibition at BHS DUMBO, in coming months BHS will host two related public programs at its Pierrepont St. location, part of the robust series of weekly affordable evening programs that have become a signature of BHS. The programs connected to the new DUMBO site highlight the queer history of Brooklyn's working waterfront (June 8th), and the many artists and writers who have taken inspiration from the water's edge over the years, including author Jennifer Egan, whose forthcoming novel, Manhattan Beach, was researched in BHS's Othmer Library (June 21st).

BHS DUMBO's normal hours will be Monday – Friday, 12 pm – 6 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 7 pm. "Summer Fridays" during which BHS DUMBO stays open until 9 pm on summer Friday nights, begin on June 30th and continue through September 1st. Finally, on Saturdays from May 20th through August 19th, BHS DUMBO will offer drop-in family programs from 11 am – 3 pm.

About Brooklyn Historical Society

Founded in 1863, Brooklyn Historical Society is a nationally recognized urban history center dedicated to preserving and encouraging the study of Brooklyn's extraordinary 400-year history. Located in Brooklyn Heights and housed in a magnificent landmark building designed by George Post and opened in 1881, today's BHS is a cultural hub for civic dialogue, thoughtful engagement and community outreach.

Can you name the Historical Figures that adorn the BHS headquarters in Brooklyn Heights?

Can you name the Historical Figures that adorn the BHS headquarters in Brooklyn Heights?

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