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Empire Stores New Museum Space Awarded $300K for 'Waterfront' Exhibit

By Nikhita Venugopal | December 21, 2015 2:06pm | Updated on December 21, 2015 2:34pm
 A rendering of the redeveloped Empire Stores in DUMBO.
A rendering of the redeveloped Empire Stores in DUMBO.
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Midtown Equities/empirestoresdumbo.com

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — A $300,000 grant will help support a future exhibit at Brooklyn Historical Society's new satellite location slated to open next year in the redeveloped Empire Stores, the center announced Monday.

The funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities will go toward "Waterfront," a display that will be curated by BHS within the historic warehouse complex in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

According to Empire Stores's website, "Waterfront" is a project that will "showcase the legacy of Brooklyn's waterfront, history of the building and recent Brooklyn Bridge Park development."

While the museum space is expected to open next fall, the exhibit not open until the winter of 2017, said BHS president Deborah Schwartz.

In the meantime however, a temporary exhibit is being planned until "Waterfront" is ready for the public, she said.

The 3,000 square-foot new exhibition space in Empire Stores, which hosts views of the water and the bridges connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan, is the first dedicated satellite location of Brooklyn Historical Society that the center will curate and run.  

"It gives us more opportunities to reach a broader public," Schwartz said Monday afternoon.

"Waterfront" will be a long-term exhibit with multimedia and interactive components that will tell a variety of stories about envirionmental, economical, labor, immigration, arts and commercial issues that have touched the waterfront's history. 

The NEH money will specifically advance two digital components of the exhibit — "Water Log," a floor-to-ceiling storytelling interactive and "Visitor Vistas," a touch-screen interative with hundreds of images from the BHS collection.

"Waterfront embodies NEH's mission to preserve cultural heritage, promote scholarship, and make the best of America's humatinies ideas available to all citizens," Karen Mittelman, NEH's director of the division for pubic programs.

The former Empire Stores that once served as a warehouse for coffee and dry-goods is undergoing a redevelopment by Midtown Equities. It will be converted into a space for restaurants, offices and retail.

Furniture brand West Elm said in 2013 it will take over a chunk of the complex for its headquarters and BHS will use a part of the second floor for its museum space. 

A rooftop beer garden and restaurant is also being planned for the complex.