The Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures has opened at the iconic Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Photo courtesy of New York Public Library

October 14, 2021

FJC Donors Celebrate Opening of New York Public Library “Treasures”

On September 24, FJC donors Leonard Polonsky CBE and Georgette Bennett joined New York City’s civic community to celebrate the opening of The Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library’s Treasures.  

A significant portion of the $12 million grant that made the exhibition possible was generated from the sale of Dr. Polonsky’s and Dr. Bennett’s vacation home in Aspen, CO.  The family fund donated the property to FJC in 2018, which then sold the real estate, generating the proceeds that covered a portion of the grant.  (See our previous story, “Private Home Transforms Public Library”).

“The New York Public Library is an iconic institution with a trove of buried treasures. I’m delighted to help bring them to the surface so that the public can forever share in them.”

Leonard Polonsky, FJC Donor

This permanent exhibition at the iconic 42nd Street branch library showcases over 250 rare items from the Library’s renowned research collections, giving visitors a unique opportunity to see and explore objects and stories that have helped shape our world. 

The objects—spanning 4,000 years of history—represent key moments, movements, and stories. They continue to inspire curiosity, conversation, and a stronger understanding of the past to inform a better future. The exhibition draws exclusively from the Library’s research collections, which contain over 45 million objects including rare books, manuscripts, photographs, prints, maps, ephemera, audio and moving image, and more, collected over the institution’s 126 years.

A significant portion of the grant that made the exhibition possible was generated from the sale of Dr. Polonsky’s and Dr. Bennett’s vacation home, which had been donated to FJC.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence
  • Manuscript page of Maya Angelou’s poem I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
  • The set model for the Off Broadway production of In The Heights
  • The stuffed animals that belonged to the real-life Christopher Robin and inspired the Winnie-the-Pooh stories

Admission to the exhibition is free, and timed tickets are available at the New York Public Library web site.

“The New York Public Library is an iconic institution with a trove of buried treasures,” said Dr. Polonsky. “I’m delighted to help bring them to the surface so that the public can forever share in them.”