5. New York Crystal Palace 1853 Exhibit at Bard Graduate Center

Birds Eye View of the New York Crystal Palace and EnvironsJohn Bachman, Birds Eye View of the New York Crystal Palace and Environs, 1853. Hand-colored lithograph. Image via The Museum of the City of New York via Bard Graduate Center

The New York Crystal Palace opened in 1853, located between 40th and 42nd Streets, facing Sixth Avenue on what is now Bryant Park. This cast-iron structure housed the first World’s Fair, and became our city’s first tourist attraction, as well as a showcase for a vast array of consumer goods. This month, Bard Graduate Center will take viewers inside this piece of New York history, with the exhibit New York Crystal Palace 1853.

The exhibit will bring to life the experience of going to the fair through digital interactives, audio tours, images, and objects offering an approximation of the fair itself. On view will be the latest technological advancements at that time, which included advances in printing and photography, and salt prints by John Adams Whipple and Victor Prevost. Souvenirs, guidebooks, early printed pictorial newspapers, carved furniture, decorative tableware, and one of the earliest Singer sewing machines will be on display. The Crystal Palace was short-lived, being destroyed by fire just five years after its dedication.

New York Crystal Palace 1853 is curated by David Jaffee, Professor and Head of New Media Research, until his passing this past January 20th. Associated programming includes digital publications and audio tours. The exhibit, New York Crystal Palace 1853 will be on view to July 30, 2017. Bard Graduate Center is located at 18 West 86th Street.