The games that entertained families from the 1840s to the 1920s offer a fascinating window on the values, beliefs, and aspirations of middle-class Americans. The appeal of the games lies both in their extensive designs, vivid colors and aesthetic impression, as well as their reflection of American history and popular culture. Then, like now, the games that best captured players’ imaginations mimicked, and sometimes poked fun at, the culture that produced them. Organized around themes such as courtship, commerce, travel, sports and city life, The Games We Played brings together over 100 eye-catching examples of America’s rare and popular board games, such as The Game of Playing Department Store, which encourage players to accumulate the greatest quantity of goods while spending their money as economically as possible, and Bulls and Bears: The Great Wall St. Game, in which players try their hand as speculators, bankers and brokers, yelling each other down as if in a trading pit.
This playful visual survey of its thematic essays will cause board and table game aficionados to share in the revelry of togetherness. Ellen Liman generously donated more than 500 American board and table games to the New-York Historical Society in 2000.
Panoramas: The Big Picture (on view August 16--December 8, 2019) explores the history and continued impact of panoramas from the 17th to the 21st century, as they were used to create spatial illusions, map places, and tell stories. The exhibition examines and reveals the impact that these and other panoramas had on everything from mass entertainment to nationalism to imperial expansion.