Expanded Hours

We're now open Wednesdays through Sundays! Proof of vaccination is required. Learn more >


Meditations in an Emergency



On view December 21, 2018 – April 28, 2019


Photographer Bettina von Zwehl, New-York Historical Society’s first artist-in-residence, presents a new series of 17 silhouette portrait photographs.

The series draws inspiration from teen protests following the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine’s Day 2018, and from the collection of American portrait miniatures and silhouettes at the New-York Historical Society. Von Zwehl’s portraits feature New York City teenagers in the historical form of the silhouetted profile, described by the artist as “death masks sculpted from life.” One of her historical sources—a profile drawing by Benjamin Tappan (1773–1857)—will also be on view.

Based in London, von Zwehl is a fine art photographer whose work explores the form and practice of portraiture by drawing upon historical iconography as well as the traditions of painted portrait miniatures and cut-paper silhouettes. Her powerful and intimate photographs honor the past while expanding the boundaries of portraiture. 

This project received generous support from Laura and James Duncan, Lynne and Myron Hofer, and the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Special thanks to Elle Shushan. Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Seymour Neuman Endowed Fund, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.


170 Central Park West (at 77th Street)


The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.


Ines Aslan: (212) 485-9263 / ines.aslan@nyhistory.org
Julia Esposito: (212) 715-1643 / julia.esposito@finnpartners.com

IMAGE CAPTION: Bettina von Zwehl, Meditations in an Emergency, #11, 2018. From a series of 17 photographs. Gelatin silver print, handprinted. Courtesy of the artist.

Thursday, November 15, 2018
Creative: Tronvig Group