Tattooed New York

Exhibition Website

Feb 3 2017 - Apr 30 2017

For more than 300 years, New York has played a central role in the development of modern tattooing, from its origins in Native American body art to tattoo craft by sailors in colonial New York to the three-decade tattoo ban instituted in 1961 and the subsequent underground tattoo culture. Its diverse history is explored in ​​Tattooed New York, an exciting exhibition where history and pop culture converge to tell the complex story of a controversial art form in America’s cultural nucleus.

Among the 250+ elements on view are the New-York Historical Society’s set of 1710 Four Indian Kings prints and one of the earliest recordings (1706) in Western accounts of a pictograph done by a Seneca warrior representing his tattoos and personal signature. Highlights of the exhibition include Thomas Edison’s electric pen and early 20th-century tattoo machinery; ​dramatic ​sideshow banners and cabinet cards; a large selection of designs by the Bowery pioneers of modern tattooing, including Sam O'Reilly, Lew Alberts, Bob Wicks, Ed Smith, and Bill Jones; rare photography documenting the tattoo ban years and artwork by mainstream visual artists who tattooed during the ban; and works by some of the finest New York tattoo artists of today.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

  • American
  • Culture / Lifestyle
  • Tatoos
  • Samuel O’Reilly
  • Lew Alberts
  • Bob Wicks
  • Ed Smith
  • Bill Jones
  • John Simon
  • Charles Eisenmann
  • Ace Harlyn
  • Nicole Reed
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates