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Coney Island Museum
Photograph by Brad Paris
Please Note: The Museum is currently closed for renovations.
Spectacle in Coney Island
Coney Island is where the history of the spectacle began; and Coney Island USA is making sure that history continues to be relevant. The Coney Island Museum is Coney Island USA's visual art program and it creates and celebrates that history in a playful way through creative art and scholarship. A unique space for the intersection of contemporary art and history, it exists to preserve and display Coney Island artifacts from 1829 to the present along with other artifacts and art related to American popular culture.
With a wonderful and expansive collection of photographs, antiques, memorabilia, and relics of the past, the museum is a space to experience history Coney-Island-style.What better place than Coney Island for a theatrically-minded exhibition space rooted in the traditions of PT Barnum, Amusement Parks and late 19th century American culture? By creating unique visual arts exhibitions using a remarkable collection of historic materials as a medium, the Coney Island Museum is a venue for promoting spectacular imaginings and wondrous displays.
Each year Museum Director, Aaron Beebe, invites an artist to create an exhibition using the permanent collection as a medium for exploring themes related to the history of American popular culture. The collection features artifacts and photographs from Coney Island, Worlds Fairs, the history of museums and cultural display writ large so exhibitions are immersive theatrical events in themselves, and the museum strives to work with artists whose playful, scholarly style can make an installation function as both educational exhibition and funhouse.
In the Coney Island Museum, the visual arts and the performing arts are as important as curatorial and museological display.
Lectures and Performances
The Coney Island Museum has a formal lecture series called Ask the Experts, which takes place throughout the summer season. Occasional lectures and performances are also held throughout the year. See here for details.
The museum has an internship program that works with students of library science to build and sustain a museum collection of over 6,000 artifacts, postcards, and photographs about the history of Coney Island and an archive of the history of Coney Island USA. Interns work with Coney Island USA staff on individual projects related to collection management and curatorial practice. We also maintain a tumblr feed!
Artists/Businesses in Residence
Coney Island USA has several artists-in-residence, who work in a studio on-premises creating props, banners, and works of art related to Coney Island USA’s productions and practices. Current artists-in-residence are Marie Roberts, Huckster Fabrications, and the Coney Island Brewery.
Support for the Coney Island Museum comes from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts, the New York Council for the Humanities, the New York Council on the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Dedalaus Foundation, and from contributions from Members and Friends.