Last updated: 11/14/2011
Brooklyn, New York
Street Address
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Mailing Address
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
phone: 718-222-4111
fax: 718-222-3794
$6 adults/$4 students and seniors.
Cristina Garza, Visitor Services & Coordinator
Emma Mutino, Visitor Services Assistant

The Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) is a museum, library and educational center dedicated to encouraging the exploration and appreciation of Brooklyn's rich heritage. BHS fulfills this mission by collecting, preserving and making available important materials representative of Brooklyn's diverse peoples and cultures both past and present. The Brooklyn Historical Society places the materials it collects in a meaningful context by presenting innovative exhibitions and public programs.
Founded in 1863, the Brooklyn Historical Society is a nationally renowned urban history center dedicated to the exploration and preservation of documents, artwork and artifacts representative of Brooklyn's diverse cultures past and present. BHS provides access to its unparalleled collection through extensive educational programs, exhibits, neighborhood history guides, community outreach and its distinctive Brooklyn Walks and Talks series. Brooklyn's young and old develop pride in their own cultural traditions while fostering an appreciation for their neighbors' differences and similarities.
Throughout the year a full calendar of special events, presentations, workshops and programs offers families wonderful opportunities for learning and getting involved. The Society is also an important research tool, and features the Donald F. and Mildred Topp Othmer Library, which features the largest collection of Brooklyn-related books, graphic images, and newspaper clippings in existence.

The Brooklyn Historical Society presents the following exhibitions:

Brooklyn Works: 400 Years of Making a Living in Brooklyn is New York City's first major exhibition spanning the metropolitan area's history from its beginnings to the present day. Brooklyn Works is about the working people of Brooklyn - the industries in which they worked, the many challenges they faced, and how this work shaped their daily lives over Brooklyn's 400-year history. The exhibition takes you on a journey from Brooklyn's rural beginnings - where its earliest workers, the Lenape Indians, farmed and hunted - to its metropolis of today, where most people work in offices, schools, and hospitals. It uses re-created theatrical environments to transport you back in time. Enter environments of tenement buildings and sugar refineries, see original advertisements and artifacts from products manufactured in Brooklyn, and hear the stories of workers from enslaved Africans to modern restaurant owners. In these immersive environments that represent the changing economic landscape of Brooklyn, encounter real individuals from the past and present who together tell the story of working in Brooklyn.

Visit our website to learn about the additional changing exhibits that are on view.


BHS was founded in 1863 as the Long Island Historical Society, when the city of Brooklyn was the commercial and cultural center of Long Island. The Brooklyn Historical Society's four-story Queen Anne style building was completed in 1881 and was designed by architect George B. Post. Post's bold use of extensive terra cotta ornamentation on the fa├žade, and innovative truss system to support the ceiling of the central library, has long been revered by architectural historians. In July, 1991, the building was recognized as a National Historic Landmark and included on the National Register of Historic Places. Portions of the interior, including the Othmer library, were designated as an Interior Landmark by the City of New York, one of the few interior landmarked buildings in Brooklyn. During World War I, BHS contributed to the war effort by transforming its 600-seat auditorium into a Red Cross Headquarters by building a flat floor over the original sloping floor. For a long period afterword, BHS operated only as a library, although it continued to add to its collections. In the 1980's, new leadership reestablished the organization as a museum and education center, which continues to serve and reach out to the community today.

Artifact Collections

Over 9,000 treasured objects in The Brooklyn Historical Society's collection date from Brooklyn's earliest history to the present. Native American tools, drawings from the 17th century, Colonial furnishings, slave deeds, and an 18th century milestone from Kings Highway share space with 19th century love letters, a cable-carrier wheel from the Brooklyn Bridge, oil paintings, and a world-renowned collection of 3,000 Brooklyn-related prints. Dodgers and Coney Island memorabilia, tool boxes, pushcarts, West-Indian carnival costumes, a giglio, a piragua cart and many other artifacts from our industrial and recreational past and present are preserved in the BHS museum. These collections remind us that our community is continually being enriched by old and new cultures as people live, work, and make history in Brooklyn.

Research Collections

Operating since 1863, the Brooklyn Historical Society Library was one of only a handful of cultural organizations in Brooklyn in the mid-19th century. Since its founding, the library has assembled the premier collection of research materials on the history of Brooklyn. The collection includes 155,000 bound volumes, 100,000 graphic images, 2,000 linear feet of manuscripts, and over 2,000 maps and atlases. The library also holds genealogies, rare books, newspapers, periodicals, serials, journals, personal papers, institutional records, and oral histories that document Brooklyn's many different ethnic groups and neighborhoods. The collection was designated a major resource library by the Department of Education and has been used by countless students, teachers, researchers and scholars.

Highlights of the collection include an original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation; the papers of the famous abolitionist minister Henry Ward Beecher (PDF or SGML format); the Pierrepont Papers (PDF or SGML format); an important collection of pamphlets dealing with slavery and abolition; and a major collection of Brooklyn and Long Island newspapers.

Educational Programs

The Brooklyn Historical Society offers a wide range of educational programs for children, families, and adults. These include walking tours, lectures, Brooklyn author readings, a movie series, family arts programs, and gallery tours.


Access: General Public, Students, Scholars

Appointment required: Yes


The Brooklyn Historical Society publishes a quarterly newsletter for its members.


Wheelchair Accessible

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