Society of Illustrators Museum
128 East 63rd Street
New York, NY 10065
Open: Sunday-Tuesday Closed/Wednesday-Saturday 11:00am-5:00pm
Admission: Adults $15.00/Seniors and Students $10.00/Members and Children under 10 free/US Veterans with Disability Free
My review on TripAdvisor:
The entrance to the Society of Illustrators
It is always nice when you discover a new museum. In all my years of walking around the Upper East Side, I had never noticed the Society of Illustrators, nor had I heard of it, but I am glad I have now. The museum is home in a stylish brownstone on a residential block away from the traditional “Museum Row” on Fifth Avenue.
The exhibits were on the main and lower floors of the main building with the special exhibitions on the third and fourth floors. The museum also had a very nice restaurant with an open terrace when it got warmer on the fourth floor. The restaurant has been closed since COVID closed the museum, but the bar is open for a drink.
On the first floor and lower level, the exhibition “Illustrators 64: Advertising, Institutional, Uncommissioned, Surface/Product Design categories”. The exhibition is a presentation of outstanding works of the year by leading contemporary illustrators worldwide. This exhibit had all sorts of interesting pieces ranging from advertising art to pastels and drawings of all sorts of subject matter. There was everything from animals skateboarding to commercial portraits. There were also unique works based on national brand companies and New York City themed works.
The second floor was the “Eric Godal: A Cartoonist’s Fight for Human Rights” exhibition that had cartoons that are still prevalent to today. As I read and admired the works by the illustrator, I can safely say that his works are just as contemporary now as they were then dealing with antisemitism during WWII in Europe. His works ridiculed the party and the Third Reich’s power over people who they deem “unsatisfactory”. He also showed the rise of the labor movement and big businesses reaction to it.
Artist Eric Godal’s works on social justice
In the fourth-floor restaurant, was the “Kent State: 4 Dead in Ohio” exhibition on the May 4th, 1970, incident on the Kent State campus. The college students there like college students all over the country were protesting the war and there had been many incidents over the months leading to the shooting.
The illustrated story boards tell the whole story of the four people who had been killed and how the whole incident had happened. It was fascinating to see how each of the people involved how their lives came about during that time and how it led them to that horrible day.
The “128 Bar & Bistro” is currently only open at certain hours and the bistro part of the restaurant is currently closed and according to the bartender being revamped. It has not been that busy before the pandemic, so they have the bar section open only.
The outdoor terrace with its breathtaking views and planted edges will make for a nice place for a cocktail in the warmer months. The space is a nice place to relax after a long afternoon of touring the museum.
This is one of those rare museums in New York City that is fun to find and explore.
The Dining Room/Lounge that is a bar area for now
The History of the Society of Illustrators:
(From the Museum Website)
The Society of Illustrators’ mission is to promote the art of illustration, to appreciate its history and evolving nature through exhibitions, lectures and education and to contribute the service of its members to the welfare of the community at large.
The Society of Illustrators is the oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to the art of illustration in America. Notable Society members have been N.C. Wyeth, Rube Goldberg and Norman Rockwell among many others.
On February 1st, 1901, nine artists and one businessman founded the Society of Illustrators with the following credo: “The object of the Society shall be to promote generally the art of illustration and to hold exhibitions from time to time.” This simple dictum has held true for over a century.
At the time when illustration was in what has been called its Golden Age, the first monthly dinners were attended by prominent artists including Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parish, N.C. Wyeth, Charles Dana Gibson, Frederic Remington, James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy and special guests such as Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie.
Our museum of Illustration was established in 1981 under the stewardship of them president John Witt. We offer year round themed exhibitions, art education programs and annual juried competitions. Our Permanent Collection houses 2,500 pieces that are cataloged for scholarly use and displayed periodically. In 2012, we created the MoCCA Gallery with a focus on curated exhibitions of comic and cartoon art.
The Society of Illustrators is an organization of many layers, one which provides illustrators a center to discuss, demonstrate and exhibit their work, contributes to future artists and to the community at large, honors its preeminent practitioners, takes a stand on legal and ethical issues affecting the profession-and has a great dining room to boot!
As it faces the challenges of a swiftly changing future, the Society will continue to “promote generally the art of illustration,” as its founders dictated.