Current Exhibitions

All exhibitions are included with General Admission.

Thursday, February 15, through Monday, April 30
The Changing Silhouette of 19th Century Fashion: The Decade of the 1850s
Day Dress, c. 1858, MHM 2002.0815
The Tredwell Costume Collection comprises more than 400 articles of clothing. The core of the collection consists of 39 dresses documented to have been owned and worn by the women of the family. The Changing Silhouette of 19th Century Fashion is a changing exhibition featuring Tredwell dresses from the decades of the 19th century. These dresses show the changing silhouette of fashion over 100 years, and tell us about the women who wore them and the society in which they lived.

One of the defining characteristics of ladies fashion in the 1850s is the pagoda sleeve. Pagoda sleeves are wide, bell-shaped sleeves that necessitate the use of detachable undersleeves to complete the look of the dress. The style was first introduced in 1848, and appears to have been a favorite of the Tredwell women – of the 39 dresses in the Tredwell Costume Collection, 20 are constructed with pagoda sleeves.

Fourth in the series is a one-piece, summer day dress of white cotton printed with single flower heads within blue circles and surrounded by pairs of tiny blue dots. The dress is hand sewn, and consists of an attached skirt and bodice with pagoda sleeves. The sleeve hems are finished in ¾” wide embroidered “white work” trim. A pocket is sewn in to the right-hand side of the skirt.

Thursday, January 18, through Monday, April 30
Exhibition: The Tredwell Books Collection and the Changing 19th Century Culture of Books
Over the course of the their almost 100-year residency on East 4th Street, the Tredwells collected 314 books. These volumes, many inscribed, provide a glimpse into the family’s interests, tastes, and intellectual pursuits over the century. It is not surprising that the most common subject/genre of literature is education, including foreign languages, since books in the 19th century were meant to be studied. Religion, biography, poetry, and fiction followed.

Most of the Tredwell books were published in New York City during the early to mid-19th century, a period known as the “emerging mass culture of print.” The availability of booksellers close to the Tredwells’ home and the close proximity of the three largest libraries in New York City all place the family in the center of a rapidly changing 19th century book culture. Based on the amount and the variety of books they owned, and their condition, which shows good use, the Tredwells were active participants.


What’s in the Blue Box?
The Museum’s collection of the Tredwell family’s original possessions comprises almost 3,000 objects: furnishings, decorations, lighting devices, household, personal and sewing accessories, family photographs, books, ephemera, works of art, costumes, and textiles. Taken together, they provide an intimate, authentic look at the domestic life of this 19th century New York merchant-class family.

Smaller objects not on display are stored in archival “blue boxes” in a storage room on the fourth floor. A single box often contains objects spanning the Tredwells’ entire 98-year residency on Fourth Street. On display, the contents of one blue storage box, including items never before displayed.

At the Tredwells’ Table: Highlights from the Collection
On display are china and glassware spanning the Tredwell family’s almost 100 year residence in the house. Included is a partial luncheon service by American silvermaker Wm. Rogers in the “Oval Thread” pattern, dating from 1847-1872. The set, engraved “E.T.,” is believed to have been given to Elizabeth Tredwell, the eldest Tredwell daughter, shortly after her marriage in 1845.
Included with regular admission.

Exhibitions are part of a series of 2017-2018 education programs,
The Women of Fourth Street and A Century of Change: 1835-1933.