Originally built in 1951, the bar was housed in what is now our fourth floor Library. Closed to the public, the lounge area was only open to members and was a place for illustrators and art directors to discuss business. In the 1960s the bar was relocated to the third floor within the Hall of Fame Gallery and welcomed all visitors to the Society, a tradition that continues today.
In 1939, Norman Rockwell gifted the Society with his painting “The Dover Coach”, a large-scale oil painting featuring Christmas travelers created for The Saturday Evening Post, and this famous painting now lives permanently above the bar.
History of the bar and restaurant at the Society of Illustrators
In August 1939, the Society purchased the building and renovations began, converting what was once a stable area into a private club for illustrators and art directors.
By 1952, renovations were made to the Third Floor, creating a private gathering space for members and their guests. A bar was added that sported carvings that once graced Charles Dana Gibson’s dining room sideboard, and was completed with an original Norman Rockwell, gifted to the Society by the artist himself.
Today, visitors to The 128 Bar & Bistro will find a perfect pairing of new and old, with modern touches to classic New York favorites. More recently, the Society has converted the space to display artwork, balancing historic pieces alongside today’s talented newcomers.
Now open to the public, guests are invited to view cutting edge shows featuring the best in illustration, comic, and cartoon art while enjoying our seasonal eats, sweets and sips! And the glorious outdoor patio offers visitors an experience where the space is as fantastic as the art!