The History Detectives pavilion explores a basic question: How do we know what we know about the past? There are two major parts of the pavilion. One is focused on the 1696 estate inventory of Margrieta van Varick (mother of Cornelia, who is the subject of another pavilion). The other explores a cross-section of a recent privy excavation in lower Manhattan, and shows how stories can be teased from old objects.
This pavilion introduces the idea of history as detective work, which is the major theme running through the museum. It also introduces the silhouetted figures of children holding magnifying glasses who signal interesting “history detective” questions at various locations in the gallery.