NYS Museum Exhibit Features Decorative, Fine Arts

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higbie-chest02The New York State Museum has opened a new exhibit featuring a selection of important New York State decorative and fine arts artifacts that were recently donated to the Museum by Peter Wunsch, President of the Wunsch Americana Foundation.

The exhibit, Building a Collection: E. Martin Wunsch and His Passion for Collecting New York State Decorative Arts, will be on display through March 5, 2014. The Museum’s Wunsch Collection consists of furniture, paintings, silver, ceramics and folk art crafted primarily between 1700 and 1900. The objects have labels indicating they were made by New York craftsmen or have a documented New York history. The Wunsch Collection illustrates changing stylistic trends in decorative arts and provides insight into how New Yorkers once lived.

“The Wunsch Collection is probably the most important collection of New York State furniture and decorative arts in the nation,” said State Museum Director Mark Schaming in a statement to the press. “Donating to the Museum allowed Eric Martin Wunsch the opportunity to collect antiques and preserve them for the public to enjoy. The Board of Regents and the State Museum are grateful to the Wunsch family for helping us preserve this important collection for future generations.”

Eric Martin Wunsch passed away in March 2013 and his son, Peter, generously donated the remaining pieces that were on long-term loan to the Museum’s collections. In addition to the exhibit, the Museum is hosting a lecture series to honor the spirit of Wunsch and his life-long passion for collecting American decorative arts.

All lectures listed below are free and open to the public.

Sunday, November 17 | 2 pm | Huxley Theater
From Frontier to Metropolis: New York Furniture 1650-1790, presented by Dean Failey, Senior Vice President and Senior Director of the American Furniture and Decorative Arts Department at Christie’s in New York.

Sunday, November 24 | 2 pm | Huxley Theater
Duncan Phyfe and the Rise of the New York School of Cabinetmaking, presented by Peter Kenny, Curator of American Decorative Arts and Administrator of the American Wing, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sunday, December 1 | 2 pm | Huxley Theater
Treasures from the Wunsch Americana Foundation: New York Decorative Arts 1700-1900, presented by John Scherer, Senior Historian Emeritus and Curator of Decorative Arts, New York State Museum.

Sunday, December 15 | 2 pm | Huxley Theater
Hidden Treasures: Searching for Masterpieces of American Furniture, presented by Leigh and Leslie Keno, PBS Antiques Roadshow and FOX Buried Treasure. Leigh is the proprietor of Keno Auctions in NYC and Leslie is the Senior International Specialist, Business Development at Sotheby’s in New York.

Illustration: Tiger maple chest of drawers, 1842, Gravesville, New York, signed “P. Higbie, 1842”

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