Exhibitions “at Home”

The Index of American Design

The Index of American Design (IAD) was a New Deal arts undertaking conceived during the Great Depression to identify and document the country’s design heritage, i.e., what was distinctly “American” in the decorative, folk, and applied arts. Comprising more than 18,000 illustrations of objects from a wide variety of public and private collections, the IAD is a stunning and invaluable visual archive of American material culture from the colonial period to the early 20th century.

The Index of American Design, now housed at the National Gallery of Art, contains 18 illustrations of 15 objects in the Merchant’s House Museum’s collection: 3 pieces of furniture, 7 dresses, 3 clothing accessories, and 2 men’s garments. In our newest virtual exhibition, you’re invited to explore the Merchant’s House collection through the eyes of IAD artists who visited the house in the late-1930s.

Click here to view The Index of American Design.


Sylvia: A 19th Century Life Unveiled

In 2002, a small, timeworn leather trunk discarded on a sidewalk in Lower Manhattan was found replete with the cherished keepsakes of a 19th century woman. Thus began visual artist Stacy Renee Morrison’s self-proclaimed love affair with Sylvia DeWolf Ostrander, whose early life parallels that of Gertrude Tredwell, who lived at 29 East 4th Street.

For almost two decades, Ms. Morrison has been on an obsessive quest to weave together Sylvia’s life in the 19th century through the personal belongings she left behind — and to re-imagine it in today’s world through art and fashion.

Click here to view Sylvia: A 19th Century Life Unveiled.


Our Stuff, Ourselves

The Tredwell family lived at 29 East Fourth Street for almost 100 years. The house became a museum in 1936, its period rooms brimming with the family’s furnishings and personal belongings — the Tredwell Collection comprises almost 4,500 items.

The family’s personal possessions provide a doorway into their private lives, revealing the tastes, interests, and values of a prosperous merchant family in mid-19th century New York.

Click here to view Our Stuff, Ourselves.


Behind Closed Doors & Drawers

The Tredwell family lived at the Merchant’s House for almost 100 years. When Gertrude, the Tredwells’ eighth and final child, died in an upstairs bedroom in 1933, she left her home brimming with the family’s possessions from the 19th century. The Merchant’s House Museum’s collection comprises approximately 4,500 Tredwell objects.

Some of the pieces of furniture and household objects may not be familiar to you. What were they used for? What do they look like on the inside? What do they tell us about how the Tredwells lived?

You are invited Behind Closed Doors & Drawers for an intimate glimpse of 19th century domestic life in New York City.

Click here to view Behind Closed Doors & Drawers.


Icons in Ash

Contemporary fine artist Heide Hatry creates memorial portraits using cremated remains. She invented a labor-intensive mosaic technique in which she placed the individual ash particles into a surface of beeswax through several applications until a likeness has been achieved. Her discovery revealed the possibility of a life-altering silent communion that Hatry knew she wanted to share with others who were suffering their own loss.

Click here to view Icons in Ash.


The museum has been closed since March 13 and during this unprecedented period we’ve been offering an expanding roster of “at home” programs.

Each dollar we receive will help keep us thriving through this crisis and beyond, ensuring that the museum remains a pillar of education of 19th century New York.

Please Donate to Our Future!

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