New-York Historical Society Acquires Personal Effects of Bill Cunningham

Bill Cunningham's jacket, camera, and bicycle.COURTESY NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Bill Cunningham’s jacket, camera, and bicycle.


After decades of whipping through the streets of Manhattan from one society affair to another, Bill Cunningham’s bicycle has found a permanent home at 170 Central Park West.

The New-York Historical Society announced today that it would acquire all of the personal effects of longtime New York Times fashion and style photographer Bill Cunningham, including his books, his Nikon camera, his trademark blue jacket, and his bike, a Biria. The items were donated by two of his lifelong friends and assistants.

Cunningham, who died last year after suffering a stroke, had previously given his photographs to the society, which staged exhibitions of them in 1976 and 2014.

“The New-York Historical Society enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Bill Cunningham, dating back to his first donation of 88 gelatin silver photographs representing his ‘Facades’ series and continuing to the end of his life,” Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, said in a statement. “In 2014, we were thrilled to host a very special surprise party for Bill’s 85th birthday, which coincided with a brand new ‘Facades’ exhibition. His death was deeply felt by all of us who knew him and respected his work, so it is with great pride that the New-York Historical Society becomes the new home for his earthly belongings.”

Bill Cunningham wrote the columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” for the Times, chronicling changing social mores and shifts in contemporary fashion. Always a figure in Manhattan society, Cunningham became nationally known following the release of the documentary Bill Cunningham New York in 2010. (The photographer, who was adverse to attention and unfailingly modest, claimed he never saw the film.) Last August, following his death in June, the corner of 57th Street and Fifth Avenue was renamed in his honor.

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