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Municipal Art Society celebrates 125 years in new exhibit

“Toward a Livable City” traces the organization’s years of advocacy and the impact it’s had on New York City

Center for Architecture

For more than a century, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) has advocated for thoughtful planning and urban design that focuses on issues that affect New York City and to celebrate its 125th anniversary, the nonprofit organization is collaborating with the Museum of the City to present Toward a Livable City: New York and the Municipal Art Society (1893-Present).

The exhibit traces MAS’s 125 years of advocacy and explores the impacts that it has made on the city we live in today, focusing on everything from transportation to historic preservation. It is also a tribute to the “formidable leaders,” both past and present within the organization, as well as to the city itself.

“[MAS] has conceived with, promoted alongside, and sometimes fought against the actors who shape the city: powerful government leaders, important institutions, and colorful individuals,” says the Center for Architecture, which is hosting Toward a Livable City.

MAS was established on March 22, 1893 by Richard Morris Hunt, along with other activists who wanted to “beautify New York with public art.” Over the course of its many years of existence, that mission expanded to include public spaces, city buildings, and giving New Yorkers a voice on issues that impacted them. The organization launched its first major campaign to beautify New York in 1902, called the “Block Beautiful” movement, and has supported or helmed countless movements since. Zoning, public housing, walking tours, design, and preservation are just some of the many agendas MAS has and continues to advance.

Toward a Livable City will be on display at the Center for Architecture in Greenwich Village from October 4 through December 31.