The Hart Island Project assists families and individuals with limited resources in accessing the history and public information concerning burials on Hart Island, and increases public awareness, through engaged storytelling and creative projects.


The Hart Island Project is a public charity incorporated in 2011. The project maintains an on-line database of people buried between 1980 and present as well as maps of their grave locations.

This database is the foundation for a system of storytelling and visualization called the Traveling Cloud Museum in an attempt to preserve the histories of who is buried for present and future generations. The Hart Island Project advocates for increased transparency of New York City burial procedures and assists individuals in gaining access to actual graves and information.

The charity supports creative projects about Hart Island which serve to restore the identities of the buried or invent new artistic forms inspired by submissions to the Traveling Cloud Museum or other creative works concerning Hart Island.

Inmates pause during a burial
Inmates pause during a burial ©1992 Joel Sternfeld


As a direct result of efforts by The Hart Island Project, the New York City Council ended penal control in 2021 on Hart Island and allocated $52 million dollars to remove the buildings and make Hart Island safe for visitors. In 2023, NYC Parks will begin a new masterplan for Hart Island.

The organization received NEH funding in 2022 to develop navigation tools and an interpretive guide for mobile devices. This software is available for use on public tours in 2023. Augumented reality (AR) software provides a more personal commemorative experience on site.

Hart Island is the only green cemetery in New York and the only affordable natural burial option for most residents. We seek to preserve Hart Island as a sustain able alternative to cremation and designate the island a National Monument to alleviate stigma of city burials.

The Hart Island Project is a 501-(c)-3 Charitable Organization registered in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Potter's Field infant burial
Potter's Field infant burial ©1990 Claire Yaffa
Infants in Plot 51
Infants in Plot 51 ©1990 Claire Yaffa
Adult mass burial on Hart Island
Adult mass burial on Hart Island ©1990 Claire Yaffa

The Hart Island Project © 2024
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