The NYPL PCO Anchor The New York Public Library
Mid-Manhattan Library Picture Collection Online
The New York Public Library. Mid-Manhattan Library Picture Collection.
Images from The Collection.
Picture Collection Home About the Picture Collection Browse the Picture Collection Search the the Picture Collection Help My Gallery Contact Us

Quick Search

Advanced Search »

Text size: default | larger

Through Your Eyes
New York in the 1800s

Introduction || Task || Process || Conclusion || Evaluation


You are the curator of a new museum exhibit on the history of New York in the 1800s. That means you need to locate images for the exhibit that you think will best show visitors what life in New York was like during that time period.


In order to select images for the museum you need to determine what aspects of New York City life in the 1800s the exhibit should cover. You need to locate images that depict what you want the display to show and you need to write descriptions of the images you select so that visitors to the museum will know at what they are looking.


Please note, some of the materials linked in the process section of this webquest are in .pdf. These documents require Adobe Acrobat Reader. To download the free Acrobat Reader visit

  1. You've decided the best place to locate images for the exhibit is the New York Public Library's Picture Collection Online. Your first step is to visit the site to get an idea of the types of images available on the topic.
  2. While at the site you determine that the best way to start locating images is to browse through the folder titles and subjects in the Browse section of the site. While browsing through those sections you decide to take notes (File in .pdf) on what's available on the topic.
  3. After you finish browsing you know it's time to look over your notes about the images you found and come up with a list of topics on New York City life in the 1800s that you want the exhibit to cover. You record the topics you are considering on the museum's Official Exhibit Topic worksheet (File in .pdf). At the same time you also decide to write down some thoughts about what you are going to look for in the images you ultimately select for the exhibit. These you also record on the Official Exhibit Topic worksheet.
  4. Once you select the topics for the exhibit you are ready to go back to The Picture Collection Online Website. You again browse through the site but this time you are collecting images for the exhibit in the My Gallery section of the site. You'll then be able to print them out for use when writing the image descriptions. Before you get started you decide to read about how My Gallery works in the Help section of the site.
  5. As you browse through the images on the site you refer to your Official Exhibit Topic worksheet to make decisions about which images to include in the exhibit. When you find an image that you would like to use you add it to your gallery.
  6. When you've selected all of the images you visit your gallery and print out the entire gallery so you can see the selections you have made all together. You use the information from the site and your thoughts about your reasons for including each image in the exhibit to write the image descriptions. You use the museum's Official Artwork Info. Worksheet (File in .pdf) to record the descriptions.
  7. It's time to hang the exhibit. You are very excited about the images you've discovered and think the exhibit is going to be a great success. You know you've done a good job at selecting images for the exhibit. Now it's time to wait and find out what the reviewers and visitors think.


Although you thought the exhibit was good you never expected the kind of response it's received after only the first week. Reviews in all the major news outlets around the country are raving about what you've put together. You are constantly getting phone calls and receiving e-mails from people who want to find out where you located the images in the exhibit. And, to top it off, some of the biggest museums in the country are courting you for their staff. Congratulations!


The following questions give you the chance to evaluate what you learned about The Picture Collection as you worked on this webquest. (Please note: when you submit the form below it will be sent to Picture Collection Online staff. They will use the information you send to evaluate the success of this webquest.)

What grade level do you teach? (Check all that apply)



Other, if checked other, please specify below.

What subjects do you teach? (Check all that apply)

English Language Arts

Social Studies/History

Other, if checked other, please specify below.

Have you ever used a webquest before?

After completing this webquest on your next visit will you feel confident in your abilities to use the site's browse function ?

If you answered no, what would you like to see added to the webquest in order to make your use of this feature more successfully?

After completing this webquest on your next visit will you feel confident in your abilities to use the site's My Gallery feature?

If you answered no, what would you like to see added to the webquest in order to make your use of the My Gallery feature more successful?

What suggestions do you have for Picture Collection Online staff related to this webquest or The Picture Collection Online?

Name (Optional)

E-mail (Optional)