For most of its history, New York has been the largest, most diverse, and most economically ambitious city in the nation. No place on earth has welcomed human enterprise more warmly. New York was also, paradoxically, the capital of American slavery for more than two centuries. In October, 2005, The New-York Historical Society begins an unprecedented two-year exploration of this largely unknown chapter of the city's story.

Slavery in New York, the first of two exhibitions, spans the period from the 1600s to 1827, when slavery was legally abolished in New York State. With the display of treasures from The New-York Historical Society, as well as other great repositories, it focuses on the rediscovery of the collective and personal experiences of Africans and African-Americans in New York City.

Educational programs will bring new curricular materials to hundreds of schools in the metropolitan area and welcome school visitors to specially designed tours of the exhibition.

Public programs, lectures, debates, films, performances, and walking tours of the city will extend the reach of the exhibitions.

Why an exhibition about slavery in New York?

Why do most New Yorkers know so little of this history?

But won't this show be too painful for many visitors? Isn't this a depressing chapter of American history best put behind us?