Exhibits & Education

The agency hosts rotating exhibits. Past exhibits include "Women Make History," "In the Shadow of the Highway: Robert Moses and the Battle for Downtown," and "Little Syria". View treasures from the archives and learn about the history of New York City.

DORIS offers programs, tours and activities related to our holdings. Students can work directly with primary sources to build a greater understanding of research and history.

Please visit Archives.NYC to view digital galleries and a sampling of our past exhibitions.

Join our mailing list to be the first to know about exhibition openings, upcoming events, recent blog posts and much more.

Note: If you require an auxiliary aid or service in order to attend a DORIS event, please contact our Disability Service Facilitator.

To request language interpretation services, please contact the Language Access Coordinator at least three (3) business days before an event.


Messages To Those We’ve Lost: 9/11 Memorial Railings 
September 18 - December 1, 2021; Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier #3

In the early years after 9/11, family members gathered at the base of the World Trade Center site on the anniversaries of the terrorist attack. They left tributes and inscribed messages of love and loss on the wooden supports for the temporary reflecting pools constructed on the footprints of the two World Trade Center towers. Municipal Archives staff collected many of the items and wooden supports after the commemorative ceremonies from 2002 through 2009. In recognition of the 20th anniversary year, a banner showing images of the supports with transcribed messages in the background will be on display at Photoville (Brooklyn Bridge Park – Pier 3). Click here to learn more. 


Documenting the 9/11 World Trade Center Attacks
Tuesday, October 26, 2021; 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM; Online


Join us to explore the Municipal Archives' collections in connection to the Sept. 11th World Trade Center attacks, including the 9/11 Risers project. Michael Lorenzini and Kenneth Cobb will discuss documentation held by the Municipal Archives of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and its aftermath. Mr. Lorenzini will display photographs he took on 9/11 and in subsequent days and weeks as City archivists collected ephemera left by the families of the victims at Pier 94 (the temporary family service center), and at the 9/11 memorial sites on the footprint of the towers; materials placed in City parks and other public places; artifacts of the World Trade Center buildings; and correspondence sent to the Mayor's office and rescue workers. The program will also include the story of the flag recovered at the site that has become an iconic symbol of New York City’s resiliency.

Author Talk: Diane Galusha on the History of Water Access in NYC
Thursday, October 28, 2021; 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM; Online


Join us to explore the story of New York City's water system - a tale of daring, sacrifice and tragedy. The program will feature the stories of the engineers, politicians, contractors, and laborers (many of whom were immigrants) who built the vast network of tunnels and dams and explore the extraordinary price paid by thousands of upstate residents who were displaced by the Croton, Catskill, and Delaware reservoirs.

1940s NYC: Inside the Municipal Archives' Tax Photograph Collections
Tuesday, November 16, 2021; 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM; Online


Join us to explore New York City during the 1940s through the Municipal Archives collections. In November, Kelli O’Toole will take the audience on a visual journey of New York City - as seen through the Municipal Archives' collection of "tax photos." Taken between 1939 and 1941 by the Works Progress Administration and Department of Taxation, these images offer unique views of every block and lot across the five boroughs. Discover the historical significance of this collection and learn how you can explore the old neighborhood virtually.

On Hart Island: Past, Present & Future
Thursday, November 18, 2021; 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM; Online


Please join Melinda Hunt - interdisciplinary artist, filmmaker, and founding director of The Hart Island Project - to discover the historical significance of one of the most mysterious and beautiful places in New York City, Hart Island. During this interactive presentation, Melinda will share historical documents, videos, and testimonies to engage us with the municipal burial place's rich history - intrinsically connected in one way or another with all New Yorkers.

Author Talk: Claire Jimenez on Staten Island Stories

Tuesday, December 14, 2021; 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM; Online 


join Claire Jimenez for our Lunch and Learn for an intimate talk about the creative process behind her award-winning literary project, “Staten Island Stories” - a fresh, fun, and compelling book about the defining moments in the island’s rich multicultural history. From the 2003 Staten Island Ferry crash and the New York City blackout to the growing opioid and heroin crisis and the unique political identity of New York City’s lesser known borough Staten Island.

Virtual Exhibits

Ebb & Flow: Tapping into the History of New York City’s Water

In collaboration with the Museum of American Finance, we launched a new exhibit, titled Ebb & Flow: Tapping into the History of New York City’s WaterEbb & Flow explores the more than 200-year history of the city’s efforts to build one of the world’s finest water supply systems. The exhibit includes the fascinating story of how a private water company, founded by Aaron Burr in 1799, evolved into the largest bank in the United States today.
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Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives - A Pictorial History of Working People in New York City

The extraordinary efforts of ordinary people are visible during this pandemic as never before. Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives tells the stories of the men and women who built the City—of towering structures and the beam walkers who assembled them; of immigrant youths in factories and women in sweatshops; of longshoremen and typewriter girls; of dock workers and captains of industry. It provides a glimpse in to the traditions they carried with them to this country and how they helped create new ones, in the form of labor organizations that provided recent immigrants, often overwhelmed by the intensity of New York life, with a sense of solidarity and security.
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Public Record – Julia Weist

Julia Weist worked with the Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS) as part of the Public Artists in Residence (PAIR), a municipal residency program that embeds artists in New York City government. During her residency at DORIS, Julia Weist researched the municipal government’s relationship to art and artists as documented in the City’s Archives, looking particularly at records featuring criteria for evaluating art, surveillance of individual artists, and notes on artists’ role in civic life. Weist used these findings as the foundation for a series of eleven photographic prints that comprise Public Record and then leveraged the City’s records retention procedures by transferring artwork created onsite to Pauline Toole, Commissioner of DORIS. As a result, the artwork became subject to the NYC Agency Head General Subject Files Retention and Disposition Series which required they be kept, processed, and made public according to regulations.
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Healthcare Workers in History

From the days of horse-drawn ambulance carriages and handwritten medical records, through the introduction of modern vaccines and medical technologies, the collections of the Municipal Archives document the history of healthcare in the City.  Our collections from the Department of Public Charities and Hospitals, Department of Health, Department of Public Charities and Correction’s Almshouse Ledger Collection, and others document the activities and methods of New York City’s doctors, nurses, and healthcare heroes as they confronted the many challenges a vibrant city presents.  By continuously adopting the latest tools and methods, the City’s medical staff has worked tirelessly to keep the public health.
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Department of Buildings - Architectural Plans and Drawings

The history of building regulation in New York City dates almost as far back as the city itself.  In 1625, the Dutch West India Company imposed rules regarding the types of structures that could be built and where they could be located.  In succeeding years, additional regulations were enacted that addressed fire hazards, as well as sanitary and public safety needs, but enforcement was inconsistent.  The Municipal Archives staff have recently worked to improve the conditions of the plans through conservation treatments and preservation housing.  The selections in the gallery here present a unique view of the varied types of plans in this collection.
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