What Other People Say

Steven Lubar

Brown University, Professor of American Studies and
Director, John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities

This is narrative of the highest order, a physical and emotional journey for the visitor to take through history, and through the exhibition, an interaction with the past and the present, mediated by objects and experiences.

Richard Rabinowitz is one of our best exhibition curators, and his two-part “Slavery in New York” at the New-York Historical Society is among the most successful exhibitions of recent years. His essay on how he created that exhibit is valuable as a case study. It is also worth reading as a how-to-guide, a master class in curation. Students of museum studies and curators and other museum staff can benefit from Rabinowitz’s thoughtful step-by-step analysis of his work on this exhibit.

..he believes that the developer of an exhibition is an auteur, a creative mastermind. Although there’s collaboration here, and Rabinowitz is careful to give historians, collections curators, designers and other staff credit for their work, the exhibit curator is in charge, the author and the architect.

Robert Gross

University of Connecticut, Draper Professor of Early American History

Rabinowitz shows us that history exhibits constitute a genre of their own, with a distinct set of requirements very different from what is done in art museums (whose tired, outworn approach he exposes very deftly), at once demanding innovative ways of researching the past and equally inventive modes of presentation. As he argues, the exhibit is a dramatic and performative medium and not a textbook on the walls.

Edward Rothstein

The New York Times

While ‘Slavery in New York’ is marred by its tendency to slight the broader context and by its earnest attempts to pull in all age groups, its virtues are so considerable, and the information and objects on display so potent, that they are bound to transform the way any visitor thinks about slavery in New York City’s past.” – October 7, 2005, Slavery in New York

But it is also clear just how immense and remarkable this long conflict against slavery and its heritage has been: a singular enterprise, quashing an ancient evil in its singularly modern form. To feel the weight of such forces and begin to sense the complications that gave them shape in a city like New York, is to begin to feel the pulse of history itself, which is precisely what a historical society might well set as its goal and which is, here, handsomely achieved.” – November 17, 2006 New-York Divided