The New School was founded in 1919. Or 1896, when the Chase School of Art began, which eventually evolved into Parsons School of Design. Or 1933, on the occasion of the University-in-Exile, which became the Graduate Faculty in Political and Social Science. Or 1970, when Parsons School of Design merged with The New School. Or 1989, when Mannes College of Music, first established in 1916, became a part of the school. Which beginning makes best sense of The New School today?

The questions that arise just in establishing the school’s founding exemplify much of the intriguing and complicated history of this storied institution. The beginning is an unsettled matter. So, too, is much of what follows.