A fascinating look at New York City's battle against infectious disease.

Man and microbes have always co-habited, and their relationship has had a profound influence on human history—especially in cities, the crossroads of the movements of people, goods, and germs. Germ City: Microbes and the Metropolis explores the complex story of New York’s long battle against infectious disease—a fight involving government, urban planners, medical professionals, businesses, and activists. It reveals how our understanding of disease has changed us physically, socially, and culturally, and the surprising interplay between people and pathogens in an urban context.

This exhibition is organized by the Museum of the City of New York in collaboration with The New York Academy of Medicine, and supported by Wellcome as part of Contagious Cities. Wellcome’s international project Contagious Cities explores the interplay of people and pathogens in urban contexts. The exhibition is located at the Museum of the City of New York at 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, open daily 10am – 6pm. Germ City runs through Spring 2019.

Explore our events with scholars, journalists, scientists, writers, activists, and artists that illuminate the role of urban areas in causing and controlling infectious disease as well as telling stories of human fear, innovation, and compassion around contagion.

Unless otherwise noted, Germ City events take place at the Academy, 1216 5th Avenue at 103rd Street.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Remembering the Dead

Over 20,600 New Yorkers died in just two months in the fall of 1918 from influenza. Today, memorials to those who died from infectious disease or artworks commemorating those living with disease are rare. Join us for a conversation about the experiences of those affected by infectious disease, the role of stigma in social and institutional responses to illness, and who is remembered, forgotten, and commemorated.

Saturday, March 23, 2019
The Hospital Zone at Ellis Island: A Walking Tour

Location: Meet at Castle Clinton at Battery Park in Lower Manhattan
The hospital complex at Ellis Island was once the gold standard of medical care in the United States. As the country's first public health hospital, it served the millions of immigrants who passed through its doors open entering the country. Join us for a private hard hat tour of the hospital zone including the infectious and contagious disease wards, the kitchen, staff housing, the autopsy room, and the laundry room with guides from Save Ellis Island.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Facing the Future: Predicting and Preparing for Disease Outbreaks

Location: The Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street, New York, NY 10029
The question is not whether there will there be another infectious outbreak. Experts expect a disruptive and deadly epidemic sometime in the next two generations. The question is: how can we best predict and prepare for that outbreak? Our panel of experts will address this question in a discussion moderated by investigative journalist and author Sonia Shah.

Sunday, April 14, 2019
The Forgotten History of Roosevelt Island: A Walking Tour

Location: Meet at the Roosevelt Island Visitor Center Kiosk at Tram Plaza on the island
Join a tour guide from the Roosevelt Island Historical Society to explore the abandoned hospitals and laboratories on Roosevelt Island and the stories they tell of New York City’s historic approach to public health.

Featured Event Video

The World’s Deadliest Pandemic: A Century Later
Thursday, September 27, 2018

Image courtesy of Isometric Studio