The lower level of the New York Historical Society was lively last Friday morning at the ribbon cutting for the new DiMenna Children’s History Museum and the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library. Young New Yorkers were trying out a number of new, interactive activities in the vibrant 4,000 square-foot vaulted space.
Pavilions divide the space into various programs including biographical information on figures such as Alexander Hamilton and James McCune Smith, viewing changing New York sites throughout history. In the library, children will also have access to rare books and maps from the Society’s collection.
The Children’s History Museum has been in the works for three to four years as part of the Historical Society’s $65 million renovation. Architects from Lee H. Skolnick Architecture and Design Partnership worked closely with museum curators to design a permanent exhibit dedicated to educating children on history. Lee Skolnick, the principal architect of the firm, has extensive design experience, spanning thirty years, on children’s museums. But here, Peter Hyde, associate and senior exhibit designer, distinguished, “We have done history museums and children’s museums, but never a children’s history museum.”
The overall concept of the exhibit presented various challenges for curators as well as the architects: how to convey historical events to children in an exciting and engaging way. The design of the space along with its content intends to relate New York kids to history by exploring famous as well as everyday historical figures as children.