Take an Early 20th Century Tour of the Brooklyn Museum (Photos)

The dome room at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences, now Brooklyn Museum, circa 1905. Photo by Detroit Publishing Co. via Library of Congress


    While you wait for the Brooklyn Museum to reopen later this summer you can take a virtual tour through the past with a series of historic interior images.

    The black and white photos all date to the early 20th century, when the building at 200 Eastern Parkway was newly finished after years of phased construction and the organization was known as the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. For a deep dive into the the early 19th century origins of the Brooklyn Museum, check out this three part series by Brownstoner columnist Suzanne Spellen.

    brooklyn museum

    The exterior circa 1905-1915

    While the photographer is not identified, the images in the collection of the Library of Congress were all produced by the Detroit Publishing Company. Established in the late 1890s, the photo publishing firm produced postcards, prints and albums for the mass market. It folded in the 1930s.

    To get a sense of where in the museum each of the photographs would have been taken, the 1911 Annual Report for the Museums of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences has a handy gallery guide.

    brooklyn museum

    Sculpture Gallery

    The photo publisher labelled this image as the Egyptian Gallery and it is likely a view one of the first floor gallery spaces, which included everything from modern sculpture to Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities.

    brooklyn museum historic

    Gallery of Natural History

    The second floor was filled with natural history exhibits, including mammals and birds of Long Island, insects, local geology, reptiles and fish.

    brooklyn museum

    The Sargent Gallery

    Located on the third floor, the Sargent Gallery contained a collection of watercolors by John Singer Sargent purchased by the institute in 1909.

    brooklyn museum

    The Old Master Gallery

    The spacious Old Master Gallery on the third floor included indirect lighting from a skylight and benches from which to admire the collection.

    brooklyn museum

    The Modern American Gallery

    Another third floor space was dedicated to more modern works, with galleries for both modern European and modern American art.

    [All photographs by the Detroit Publishing Company via Library of Congress]

    Related Stories

    Sign up for amNY’s COVID-19 newsletter to stay up to date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York City. Email tips@brownstoner.com with further comments, questions or tips. Follow Brownstoner on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

    Brooklyn in Your Inbox

    * indicates required

    What's Happening