Tag Archives: Albany County

State Museum, Library, Archives Closed Saturday


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The New York State Museum, State Library and State Archives will be closed to the public on Saturday, September 24 due to semi-annual routine maintenance of electrical systems in the Cultural Education Center.

The Cultural Education Center is closed on Sundays. The State Museum, Library and Archives will reopen on Monday, September 26.

The State Museum, Archives and Library are part of the Office of Cultural Education (OCE) and are programs of the New York State Education Department. They are located on Madison Avenue in Albany. Admission is free. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the OCE website.

Meet New Netherland Center’s Resident Scholar


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Dr. Eric Ruijssenaars, the New Netherland Research Center’s first Senior Scholar in Residence and founder of Dutch Archives, a historical research firm in Leiden, will discuss his research at a luncheon on Wednesday, October 5 at the National Register-listed University Club of Albany, 141 Washington Avenue at Dove Street. The buffet lunch will begin at 12:00 noon, with the presentation commencing at 12:30 p.m., followed by a question and answer period.

Although a specialist in the history of Russia and the Netherlands, he is also a scholar of the Brontë sisters’ time in Brussels and has published two books on the subject.

He is currently researching the life of Abraham Staats. In 1642, Staats arrived in the Dutch colony of New Netherland to serve as a surgeon on patroon Kiliaen van Rensselaer’s vast estate, Rensselaerswijck, which is now part of Albany and Rensselaer counties. Over the course of his life, Staats became a magistrate of the court, a captain of the burgher guard, the owner of a sloop that made regular trips to New Amsterdam (New York City), and an Indian language translator. Something of an oddity in rough-and-tumble New Netherland, he remained a very respectable man and was, for that reason, regularly called on to mediate disputes between his less respectable and more litigious neighbors.

The New Netherland Research Center is a partnership of the New Netherland Institute and the New York State Office of Cultural Education. It continues and extends the work of the New York State Library’s New Netherland Project, which since 1974 has preserved, transcribed, translated, and published 17th century documents in order to make the history of the Dutch colonial presence in North America more broadly accessible for study.

The University Club of Albany Foundation, Inc. is presenting this event, and one need not be a member of the University Club to attend. The cost for the luncheon and lecture is $25. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the University Club at 518-463-1151.

Photo: The Abraham Staats House, one of the finest surviving buildings from the Dutch Settlement of the Raritan Valley in New Jersey.

Albany: Got Class? Status and Power in Early America


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Historic Cherry Hill and Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site present the first of six events in a special series funded by the New York Council for the Humanities called: Got Class? Status and Power in Early America. Dr. Tamara Plakins Thornton, history professor at the State University of New York, Buffalo, will explore the nuances of class in 18th century America in her lecture, Status and Power in Early America, the opening program of the Got Class? series. The lecture takes place on Saturday, September 17th at 2pm at the Carole F. Huxley Theater at the New York State Museum. A reception will follow the lecture.

In early America, wealthy southern planters, northern merchants and Hudson River families like the Schuylers and Van Rensselaers liked to think of themselves as American aristocrats even though they lived in a land with no real dukes and earls. Dr. Thornton’s talk will explore the many ways in which America’s upper classes strove to distinguish themselves from common folk, imitate Old World aristocrats, and establish themselves as an elite. Dr. Thornton is the author of the book Cultivating Gentlemen: The Meaning of Country Life among the Boston Elite, 1785-1860.

This is a ticket-only event and tickets must be purchased prior to September 17th. The registration deadline for the lecture is September 10th, 2011. The cost of tickets are $10.00 per person which includes the lecture and reception following. To register please call Mary at Historic Cherry Hill at 518-434-4791 or email mary@historiccherryhill.org.

Historic Cherry Hill, located at 523 ½ South Pearl Street in Albany, NY, is a non-profit historic house museum built in 1787 and was lived in continuously by five generations of the same family until the death of the last family member in 1963. The museum is currently undergoing a large restoration project and offers a Behind-the-Scenes Restoration tour from April through December, on Wednesday afternoons at 1, 2 and 3pm and Saturday afternoons at 2 and 3pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and college students and $2 for children between the ages of 12 and 18. An Architecture Hunt for Families is also offered on Saturdays between 1 and 2pm at the admission price of $2 for adults and $1 for children ages 6-11. Visit Historic Cherry Hill’s website at www.historiccherryhill.org for more information.

Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, located at 32 Catherine Street in Albany, NY, was once the home of Philip J. Schuyler, the renowned Revolutionary War General, US Senator and business entrepreneur. He and his wife Catharine Van Rensselaer descended from affluent and powerful Dutch families. Together they raised eight children in this home. Throughout the Schuyler family occupancy from 1763-1804, the mansion was the site of military strategizing, political hobnobbing, elegant social affairs, and an active family life. Guided tours are available mid-May through October 31st, and are offered on the hour, Wednesday through Sunday, 11:00am to 4:00pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and college students. Children under 12 are free. Visit www.schuylerfriends.org for more information about Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site.

Albany in the Civil War Exhibit Opens Saturday


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The Albany Institute of History & Art will be opening Albany and the Civil War: Medicine on the Home and Battle Fronts on Saturday, September 3, 2011, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the war. The exhibition will focus on the medical concerns and necessities of the Civil War by examining the role of the 1864 Albany Relief Bazaar and the letters, field notes, and photographs of Albany brothers Garrett Vander Veer and Dr. Albert Vander Veer, who served as dean of Albany Medical College from 1895 and 1904. Also featured will be silver loving cup presented to Dr. Vander Veer by his students in 1907.



On the 1861 home front, President Abraham Lincoln authorized the formation of the United States Sanitary Commission to raise private funds for the medical care of the Union Troops wounded in Civil War battles. In February 1864, a group of Albany women organized the Albany Relief Bazaar and raised $17,189. This three-week event included ethnic booths, art exhibitions, tableaux, souvenir shops, and lotteries, all well-documented with detailed photographs.

Meanwhile, on the battle front, Dr. Albert and Garrett Vander Veer kept detailed accounts of their experiences on Civil War battlefields. Albert, a doctor who served as a surgeon for the Sixty-Sixth at Gettysburg, kept detailed records of each of the soldiers he treated. He also used his battlefield experiences to advance the quality of medical practices when he returned to Albany. He would later go on to become an influential professor and internationally known surgeon at Albany Medical College and Hospital – an association that lasted for more than 60 years. Garret Vander Veer, who was killed in action, wrote numerous poignant letters home describing his battlefield experiences.

The exhibition, supported by Albany Medical Center, will be open through February 26, 2011 and will be displayed in the Albany Institute’s entry gallery.



Photo: Garrett Vander Veer, Vander Veer Family Photographs, Albany Institute of History & Art Library.

George Washington Exhibit Headed to Albany


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The Albany Institute of History & Art will be opening First in the Hearts of His Countrymen: George Washington on Saturday, August 27, 2011. This exhibition features objects from the collections of the Albany Institute and private collectors that memorialize and commemorate the country’s first president. It showcases objects ranging from the 18th century to the present day.

By some, Washington is thought to be the greatest American hero and his picture inspired patriotism even during his lifetime. When George Washington died of a throat infection on December 14, 1799, the nation wept and mourned as it never had before. When the news spread abroad Napoleon ordered a week of mourning for the deceased leader, and flags throughout Europe were lowered to half-mast.



Such was the impact of America’s iconic first president, whose likeness both during life and since his death has adorned and inspired thousands of artists, sculptors, and craftspeople. First in the Hearts of His Countrymen: George Washington will showcase an eclectic array of items from the Albany Institute’s own collection, including teapots, plates, busts, documents, personal correspondence, lithographs, paintings, and even a walking stick cut from a tree near his Mount Vernon grave site, all paying tribute to this purely American hero.

The exhibition pays tribute to the most famous face in American history, and to the man who was first in the hearts of his countrymen. It will remain on display until May 20, 2012, fittingly located at 125 Washington Avenue (and just a few blocks from Washington Park).

The institute is no taking reservations for school groups; contact education@albanyinstitute.org for more information.

Illustration: George Washington (1732-1799), Ezra Ames (1768-1836), 1826, Oil on canvas, Albany Institute of History & Art, gift of Albany Gallery of Fine Arts.

New Director of Albany Institute Named


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The Albany Institute of History & Art has announced that David Carroll has been selected as its next Director, succeeding Christine Miles who announced in January her intention to resign from the Institute once a new Director is in place.

“I am honored to have been selected to serve the Albany Institute of History and Art as its next Director,” says Carroll. “The Institute has an impressive history of bringing exciting and relevant programs to this region and I look forward to working with the Board and talented staff to advance this important work.”



David Carroll has held the position of Executive Director for the Western Museum of Mining and Industry in Colorado Springs, Colorado since 2005. Prior to that, Carroll held positions of Director of Membership at the Art Institute of Chicago, Director of Development at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago and Associate Director of Administration at the Indiana University Art Museum, which provides him a range of valuable experience.

Most recently as the Executive Director of the Western Museum of Mining & Industry, Carroll has dramatically increased membership and attendance as well as transformed donor relationships which greatly increased grant support and annual giving. Under his leadership, this museum has expanded its educational programming and become a significant partner in the tourism of the Pike’s Peak region. He has served on numerous state and local commissions and committees involving heritage tourism, art, and history throughout his career. Carroll received his B.S. in Management Information Systems from Colorado State University in 1988, followed by a M.A. in Arts Administration from Indiana University in 1997.

“What really set Carroll apart beyond his energy was his passion for storytelling,” tells George R. Hearst III, Chair of the Albany Institute Board of Trustees. “In line with the Albany Institute’s own mission, Carroll understands how to integrate objects and exhibitions into the context of the local environment, which he has done successfully at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry. As his skills complement areas where the Institute already has strength, there will be a very solid team in place under Carroll’s leadership.”

The process of recruiting a new Director commenced in January with the appointment of a Search Committee, comprised of Trustees and members of the community, and the hiring of a national recruitment firm. Ultimately, the Albany Institute Search Committee selected Carroll from a field of 38 candidates from across the country including Hawaii, Maine, Connecticut, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Colorado. Carroll impressed the Search Committee with his appreciation for the relationship between history and art, which is essential to the Institute’s mission. Additionally, he recognized the importance between an institution and its role in the community.

“We were very fortunate to have such a group of high-quality candidates from all over the country,” says Rosemarie V. Rosen, Chair of the Search Committee and Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees. “David is very special and brings us a unique mix of technical and creative skills. In addition, he has a real enthusiasm and excitement and will be a tremendous asset as we build the future of the Institute.”

“Speaking for myself and our entire staff, I am delighted and excited about the Albany Institute’s choice of David Carroll as the next Director of the Albany Institute,” says current Director Christine Miles. “David brings with him a refreshing approach and vision, great people-skills, and the invaluable experience of knowing how to engage the many publics that this museum serves every day.”

The Search Committee, which was formed in January 2011 to begin the process of selecting a new Director for the Albany Institute of History & Art following the announcement by Christine Miles of her upcoming resignation, included: Phoebe Powell Bender, Michael Conforti, Denise Gorman, Barbara K. Hoehn, Robert Krackeler, David Allen Miller, Victor Oberting III, Rosemarie V. Rosen (Committee Chair), I. David Swawite, Christine Ward, and Judith White.

Albany Institute: Exhibits Closing and Those Opening


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The following is a listing of soon to be closed and upcoming exhibitions appearing at the Albany Institute of History & Art. Dates, times, and details are subject to change. Call (518) 463-4478 or visit www.albanyinstitute.org for more information.

CLOSING SOON

ART AND NATURE: THE HUDSON RIVER SCHOOL PAINTINGS

CLOSING AUGUST 14, 2011

The term “Hudson River School” is used to describe paintings made by two generations of artists beginning in 1825 with Thomas Cole and flourishing for about 50 years. These artists are best known for their large panoramic views of landscapes throughout North and South America, Europe, and the Middle East. Their subject matter ranges from the sublime views of the wilderness, to beautiful pastoral scenes influenced by man, to allegorical pictures with moral messages. The Albany Institute of History & Art has been collecting materials related to the Hudson River School artists for more than 150 years. The museum’s collection includes 60 paintings, sketchbooks, photographs, paint boxes, and manuscript materials related to all of the major artists associated with this movement, recognized as the first school of American painting. This exhibition includes 25 paintings and complements an additional 20 works in the adjacent Lansing Gallery.
Square, Round and Lansing galleries

HAJO: AN ARTIST’S JOURNEY
CLOSING AUGUST 14, 2011
Hans-Joachim Richard Christoph (1903–1992), known familiarly as Hajo, lived through most of the 20th century and witnessed firsthand its high points and low moments. Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1903, he trained at the Reimann Schule following World War I, a time of artistic experiment and expression. When he immigrated to the United States in 1925, he brought training and skill that served him well as a graphic designer, first at the New York office of Lucien Bernhard and later at the Fort Orange Paper Company in Castleton, New York. Hajo created fresh, bold designs for Kenwood Mills, the Embossing Company, and other manufacturers, all meant to captivate and entice modern American consumers. In his spare time Hajo painted quiet landscapes that reflect the peaceful, small-town charms of the upper Hudson Valley. Hajo: An Artist’s Journey, tells the story of an immigrant artist, his journey from Europe to the Hudson Valley, and his artistic explorations. Sketchbooks, drawings, paintings, graphic designs, and photographs span the breadth of Hajo’s world and the art he created to capture it.
Jabbur Gallery

FROM THE PAGE’S EDGE: WATER IN LITERATURE AND ART

CLOSING AUGUST 28, 2011

Earth’s most abundant substance is the subject of this cross-disciplinary exhibition of literature and art. Featuring 19 paintings, hung adjacent to literary excerpts and accompanied by statements from the artists, From the Page’s Edge looks at written depictions of water in visual terms. Exhibition curated by Virginia Creighton. Catalogue available for sale in the Museum Shop. Sponsored by the New York Foundation for the Arts.
Rice House Drawing Room

CURATOR’S CHOICE: RECENT ACQUISITIONS

CLOSING AUGUST 28, 2011

The Albany Institute of History & Art presents an assortment of its latest acquisitions in the museum’s Entry Gallery. Items on display include a spectacular 12-piece silver serving set presented to Thomas Schuyler (1811–1866) in January 1859. The well-known Albany philanthropist, business leader, ship captain, and owner of the Schuyler Tow Boat Company, received the silver presentation set from a group of friends and business associates. The large tray, engraved with a large image of the towboat, America, owned by Schuyler’s company. The engraving is taken directly from a painting of the towboat painted by James Bard (1815–1897) in 1852, which is in the museum’s collection. The silver, painting, and other manuscript materials will be on view, along with a history of the towboat company started by Thomas’s father, Captain Samuel Schuyler (1781–1842), who was one of Albany’s most successful businessmen of African heritage.
Entry Gallery

2011 EXHIBITION BY ARTISTS OF THE MOHAWK-HUDSON REGION
CLOSING SEPTEMBER 4, 2011

This annual juried exhibition is open to artists living within a 100-mile radius of the Albany and Glens Falls. Founded in 1936, the regional exhibition is among the longest running regionals in the country and occupies a major role in the history of 20th and 21st century art in the Upper Hudson Valley. Jurors over the years have included artists, poets, curators and gallery owners. The museum hosts this exhibition every three years; other partners include the University Art Museum, State University of New York and the Hyde Museum. This year’s juror is Holly Hughes, a painter, curator and professor in the Painting Department at the Rhode Island School of Design. Hughes has worked as a visiting artist and critic for more than a dozen colleges including Bennington College, Brandeis University, Middlebury College, Parson School of Design, Kansas City Art Institute and Sarah Lawrence College. This year’s exhibition includes 160 works by 85 artists.

OPENINGS/UPCOMING EXHIBITIONS

PARKER C. DUNN: THE DUNN MEMORIAL BRIDGE

AUGUST 6–NOVEMBER 13, 2011

Now under extensive reconstructive work, the Dunn Memorial Bridge linking Albany to Rensselaer is named for Parker S. Dunn, a hero of World War I. Dunn was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for his bravery in delivering a message to a besieged company in a battle in France. Featuring photographs, letters, postcards, scrapbooks and the Medal of Honor, the exhibition highlights the life of Parker Dunn and the history and construction of the bridge.

Library Cases in Atrium

FIRST IN THE HEARTS OF HIS COUNTRYMEN: GEORGE WASHINGTON

AUGUST 27, 2011–MAY 20, 2012

George Washington—farmer, military hero, founding father of the United States. He is our best known president and doubtless our most pictured president. In life, Washington gained the respect and admiration of his countrymen. Following his death in December 1799 Washington transcended mortal existence to become a symbol for America that endures to this day. Drawn from the collections of the Institute and private collectors, First in the Hearts of his Countrymen features a variety of materials that depict Washington or have personal connections to the revered figure. From paintings and prints by Alex Katz and Currier and Ives to glass flasks and cast-iron stoves, this diverse range of objects reveals our infatuation with this national hero, our memorialization of his deeds and personal character, and the inevitable marketability of Washington’s image from the late eighteenth century to the present.
Square, Round, and Jabbur Galleries

ALBANY AND THE CIVIL WAR: MEDICINE ON THE HOME AND BATTLE FRONTS

SEPTEMBER 3, 2011–FEBRUARY 26, 2012

On the Civil War home front and on the battlefields, Albany residents played key roles in providing for the medical care of the sick and wounded. This exhibition examines the medical concerns and necessities of the war through objects, photographs, broadsides, and letters. Featured are materials related to the 1864 Albany Relief Bazaar held in support of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, created and sanctioned by the U.S. War Department to raise funds for medical supplies and to improve camp conditions for Union troops. The exhibition compares the home front efforts of the Relief Bazaar with the field notes and correspondence of Albert Vander Veer, an Albany physician and surgeon, and his brother Garrett, a soldier who sent home revealing letters about battles, camp life, and the mental stress caused by the war. Images of Abraham Lincoln, national leader and inspirational force throughout the conflict will accompany the exhibition. This exhibition is supported by Albany Medical Center.
Entry Gallery

KID STUFF: GREAT TOYS FROM OUR CHILDHOOD

OCTOBER 1, 2011–March 4, 2012

Slinkys, Wooly Willys, Whee-los, Magic Eight Balls, Magic Yo-Yo’s, Etch A Sketch®, Spirographs, Colorforms, Matchbox® Cars, PEZ Dispensers, LEGO®s, Erector sets, Lionel Trains, Tonkas, Hot Wheels, Frisbee®s, G.I. Joes, BarbieTM Dolls, Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs, and Mr. Potato Head brought hours of fun and entertainment to kids throughout the 1950s and 60s. Many of these toys from the past still appear on store shelves today, holding their own against the onslaught of computerized games and robotic pets. Kid Stuff, an interactive exhibition based on the book by David Hoffman, takes us back to the age of tailfins and vinyl records with more than 40 vintage toys, which reveal a fascinating look at invention and innovation, social history and industrial growth, play and entertainment. Visitors of all ages will be able to see vintage toys with original packaging and promotional material and have the opportunity to play and interact with contemporary versions. Additional materials such as photos of toy factory interiors, images of children at play, video presentations, and interpretive texts explore the toys’ invention and evolution, how they work, and their significance in American culture. The exhibition was designed by Amy Reichert Architecture+Design with graphic design and art direction by Winstanley Associates. Kid Stuff will occupy nearly 5,000 square feet in the second floor galleries at the Albany Institute.
Main Floor Galleries

TEMPLE OF FANCY: PEASE’S GREAT VARIETY STORE

NOVEMBER 19, 2011–MARCH 25, 2012

Before F. W. Woolworths’, or Whitney’s, or even Myer’s department store in Albany, there was Pease Great Variety Store located in the Temple of Fancy at 518 Broadway. From the 1840s to the 1860s Pease’s store was something of an upscale “Five and Dime,” where Albany families could purchase fancy goods, toys, household items, children’s books, and games. The building still stands at the corner of Broadway and Pine Street. Richard H. Pease, and later Harry E. Pease, were proprietors of the store and also noted printers. They printed the first Christmas card in America in 1851 (only one of which exists at the Manchester Metropolitan Museum in England) and they also produced the hand-colored lithographs of fruit for Ebenezer Emmons’ Agriculture of New York published between 1846 and 1854. The exhibit will draw from the collections of the Albany Institute and include photographs, prints, children’s books, card games, and puzzles.

Library Cases in Atrium

Civil War Battle Flag Exhibit Opens at Capitol


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A new exhibit of Civil War battle flags, “1861: Banners for Glory,” has been unveiled at the State Capitol, featuring eight flags significant in the first year of the war – including the storied Marshall House Flag, which prompted one of the first skirmishes of the war.

“As the nation looks back on the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, I encourage New Yorkers to visit this moving exhibit in the State’s Capitol,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The flags are a physical connection to our nation’s history, and I am tremendously grateful to the private individuals and organizations who have partnered with New York State to make this exhibit possible.”

“The collection of New York’s historic battle flags held by the Division of Military and Naval Affairs on behalf of the citizens of New York is a reminder of the courage and sacrifice of the almost 500,000 New Yorkers who fought in the Civil War,” said Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York. “I’m pleased that this exhibit will allow more New Yorkers to share in that history.”

The exhibition will run in the New York State Capitol’s eastern entrance area through June 2012. The exhibit is taking place thanks to a combination of a $30,000 grant from the Coby Foundation, a New York City organization that funds projects in the textile and needle arts, and approximately $13,000 in donations from private citizens.

The exhibit features the massive 14- by 24-foot Marshall House Flag, which Colonel Elmer Ellsworth of the 11th New York Volunteers, attempted to remove from the Marshall House hotel in Alexandria, Virginia – a flag visible across the Potomac in Washington, D.C. With a small party, Ellsworth climbed to the roof and cut down the flag prompting an exchange of gunfire with hotel owner James Jackson, in which both Ellsworth and Jackson were killed.

The Marshall House incident became national news and plunged the entire country into mourning – the North for Ellsworth, the South for Jackson. President Abraham Lincoln, ordered an honor guard to deliver Ellsworth’s body to the White House for a funeral service. Ellsworth, the first Union officer to be killed in the conflict was then laid in state at City Hall in New York City and the State Capitol in Albany respectively before being buried in Mechanicville, New York. The Marshall House flag accompanied Ellsworth’s body home to New York State.

Since 2000, the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project, a collaboration between the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, has conserved and properly stored over 500 of the state’s 2,000 flags carried into battle by New York State regiments.

Photo: Marshall House Inn, circa 1861-1869. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Albany Institute’s Free, Discount Admission Days


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The Albany Institute of History & Art has announced that it will offer a special discount admission program on Fridays and Saturdays in July and August 2011 as part of an ongoing effort to reach out to members of the Capital District community.

On each Friday in July and August, the Albany Institute will offer free admission to all visitors during regular museum hours, from 10 am to 5 pm. There will be no charge for any visitors to enter the museum and see the galleries on the following dates: July 22, 29, and August 5, 12, 19, and 26.

Additionally, the Institute will offer buy-one-get-one-free admission on Saturdays throughout July and August during regular museum hours from 10 am to 5 pm. Any adult or child visitor purchasing one admission will be entitled to one free admission of equal or lesser value. Buy-one-get-one-free Saturday dates are: July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 and August 6, 13, 20, and 27.

This program is not available in combination with any other discount or coupon offers and does not apply to group tours, facilities rentals, or special events. For more information about the summer discount admission program, please call (518) 463-4478. To learn more about current exhibitions and events, visit www.albanyinstitute.org.

Free admission to the Albany Institute of History & Art is funded in part with a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency.

Exhibition Celebrates 175 Yrs of State Museum


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The New York State Museum traces its origins to an 1836 survey of the state’s geology, plants, and animals. To celebrate 175 years of adding to the scientific and historical knowledge of New York, the State Museum presents an exhibition that showcases many of its important collections in anthropology, history, and natural science. The exhibition highlights some of the people who, through their work, built these invaluable collections, and presents examples of continuing research based on the collections. Together, the stories of the collectors, the artifacts and specimens in the collections, and the continuing research illuminate the history of the oldest and largest state museum in the nation.

The exhibition “From the Collections” will run through April 2012 in the Exhibition Hall.

Photo: The coyote collection includes skins and skulls that document the expansion of coyotes into New York. Shown here is the skull of a coyote-wolf-dog hybrid from New York state. Scientists at the State Museum recently evaluated skulls and genetic samples of New York coyotes and found they have larger and wider skulls because of hybridization
with wolves. The coyote collection is included in From the Collections, an exhibition highlighting some of the State Museum’s important collections and related research.

Mohawk-Hudson Exhibit Breaks Records


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The 75th Annual Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region is currently being hosted by the Albany Institute of History & Art through September 4, 2011. According to Tammis Groft, Deputy Director for Collections and Exhibitions at the Institute, this year’s exhibition is, “One of the largest Mohawk-Hudson Regional exhibits in recent history.” Submissions for the show, Groft said, reached an all-time high of 1,000 works from 235 artists. The final selection is comprised of 160 works by 85 artists, representing a wide-range of media, including paintings, drawings and sculptures, and videos.

Additionally, this year’s Regional raised a record amount of funding, with more than $5,000 in cash prizes and gift certificates for the featured artists. The names of prize winners will be announced at a later date.

This year’s entries were selected by exhibit juror Holly Hughes, who also curated the exhibition. Hughes is a nationally and internationally showcased artist whose work has been displayed across the United States, and in China, Finland, Germany, and France. Hughes is a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she heads the painting program.

One of the longest-running regional exhibitions in the nation, the Mohawk-Hudson Regional was founded by the Albany Institute in 1936, and now rotates annually between the Institute, the University Art Museum of the University at Albany, and The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls.

An awards ceremony and reception will take place Thursday, July 21, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, with the awards presentation beginning at 6:30. A special preview for Albany Institute members will be held on Saturday, July 9, at 10:00 am. Two free 1st Friday artists’ talks will be held on August 5 and September 2. Call (518) 463-4478 or visit albanyinstitute.org for information.

1911 Capitol Fire Exhibit Extended


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The 1911 Capitol Fire exhibit in lobby of Cultural Education Center has been extended through October 22, 2011. In the early morning hours of March 29, 1911, a fire broke out in the
northwest corner of the New York State Capitol. Many Albany residents awoke in the early morning hours to see the entire western side of the presumed fireproof building was engulfed in flames shooting 200 feet high. The fast-moving flames destroyed much of the State Library, the fifth largest in the U.S., which was housed in the Capitol.

More than 8,000 Museum objects stored in the Capitol were also destroyed or lost. The fire caused the unprecedented destruction of the state’s intellectual, cultural and historic property and also claimed the life of the lone night watchman.

The exhibition commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Capitol Fire through dramatic photographs, eyewitness accounts, and artifacts that survived the blaze.

Photo: Amateur photographer Harry Roy Sweney captured the Capitol inferno at 3:30 a.m. on March 29, 1911. The New York American paid $25.00 for the first print of this dramatic photograph. Courtesy New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections.

New-York Historical Aquires Lansing Papers


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At an auction held in May at Sotheby’s the Chairman of the New-York Historical Society, Roger Hertog, purchased the Constitutional Convention notebooks of John Lansing, Jr., a New York delegate to the 1787 Philadelphia Convention. Mr. Hertog has announced that he will donate the exceptionally rare documents to the Library of the Historical Society.

The New-York Historical Society plans to digitize the Lansing papers in their original format to share with scholars everywhere. The documents will also be displayed in an exhibit when the Historical Society’s galleries re-open in November 2011.

“With this magnificent gift, Roger Hertog has secured the New-York Historical Society’s place of privilege as one of the most important repositories in the world for scholarship and teaching around constitutional history,” said Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the Historical Society. “Together with the notes on the Convention written by South Carolinian Pierce Butler—part of the Gilder Lehrman Collection on deposit at the Historical Society—and other extraordinary original resources of both Gilder Lehrman and Historical Society collections, Lansing’s Constitutional Convention Notebooks establish our institution as a principal site for understanding that the Constitution was a product of compromise, negotiation and brilliant thinking, an accomplishment nearly without parallel in modern history.”

“If you love American history, ask yourself how often (if ever) you get the chance to see a first-hand account of one of the most important events in that history,” Roger Hertog stated. “John Lansing’s notebooks from the Constitutional Convention are a rare such account: an eye-witness report of what went into the creation of the U.S. Constitution.”

John Lansing, Jr. (1754-1829) was born in Albany, took up the legal profession and served as a New York delegate to the Constitutional Convention. His detailed notes of the Convention join those of Rufus King, which are already in the Historical Society’s collection, and enrich our knowledge of the debates and compromises that helped forge the foundational document of the United States. Lansing was also a major figure in the New York State ratification convention in 1788 in Poughkeepsie, where his insistence that the new Constitution be enlarged by a Bill of Rights helped to secure the protections that citizens enjoy today.

The delegates’ vow of secrecy, which banned the taking of notes for publication, limited the amount of material created documenting the Convention proceedings. Although notes by a number of other delegates, including James Madison, survive, Lansing’s are among the purest and most detailed, providing a unique and unedited first-hand account of the period of Lansing’s attendance at the Convention.

“Reading through the Lansing notebooks is a thrilling experience,” Jean Ashton, Executive Vice President of the New-York Historical Society and Director of the Library Division said in a prepared statement. “Lansing recorded speeches and discussions, assigning names and identifying positions, as the delegates participated in the give-and-take of debate. Lansing became distressed that the meeting was seeking to establish an entirely new government rather than simply amending the Articles of Confederation, as charged. Lansing and his fellow New Yorker Richard Yates left the Convention early, but not before he had participated actively and created this illuminating and highly significant record.”

Illustration: Engraving of John Lansing (1754–1829) from the New-York Historical Society Library, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, Gift of Albert Rosenthal.

Lecture: Albany County Just Before The Civil War


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By way of honoring the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, Robert Arnold III will offer a talk entitled “Leaning into the Storm: Albany County in the Years before the Civil War” on May 19, 2011, at 10:00 AM at the Albany County Hall of Records (95 Tivoli Street, Albany). Exhibits and a tour of the Hall of Records will follow.

Arnold, a career public historian, is retired from the New York State Archives. He is a historical archaeologist, is as a member of the Historic Resources Commission for the City of Albany, and served as Albany County Historian. He has taught Colonial America, Revolutionary America, American Civil War, New York State and U.S. Immigration and Ethnic History at the College of Saint Rose and Excelsior College.

Further information about the Albany County Hall of Records and directions to the facility can be found online.

Seating is limited; if you are interested in attending, please RSVP: Deputy Director
Craig Carlson at 436-3663 ext. 204 or ccarlson@albanycounty.com

Irish Heritage Museum Moving to Albany


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The Irish American Heritage Museum has announced that it is moving into a new home at 370 Broadway in downtown Albany, NY. The Museum is completely modernizing the ground floor of the historic 19th century Meginniss Building in what has been a gutted century-old space to transform it into a state-of-the art, year-round exhibit and educational facility that also will house its O’Dwyer Research Library.

“In celebration of our 25th year of meeting our educational goals and the vision of our late founding Chair of the Board of Trustees Joseph J. Dolan, Jr., the Museum is moving into a new year-round, multi-faceted and expansive exhibit facility that will allow us to host large numbers of visitors as well as school and public groups for exhibit viewing, lectures, and other presentations throughout the year,” stated Edward Collins, Chair of the Museum’s Board of Trustees. “Further, our new Museum facility will be more accessible to the general public and provide downtown Albany with new vitality.”

Collins said of the Museum’s decision to move into downtown Albany from its part-time, summer seasonal exhibit facility in East Durham, Greene County: “The Irish have played such a central role in the history of this great city and region, from literally building Albany – and surrounding cities, villages and towns – from the earth up to protecting these areas and their people, to leading the people in every aspect of life in Albany and the surrounding region. Name a profession, occupation, leadership position or community service, and the Irish have had a central role in Albany’s life and the lives of those throughout the great northeast. The Museum’s Trustees, especially the late Joe Dolan, value greatly this rich legacy and seek to pass it forward to new generations of New Yorkers and Americans.”

The Museum expects to formally open its new, renovated facility at 370 Broadway, Albany, in September. It will move from The Michael J. Quill Irish Cultural and Sports Centre in East Durham, Greene County, which owns the summer seasonal exhibit facility previously leased by the Museum on Rt. 145 in that hamlet; the Quill Center will assume residency in that facility. The Museum will continue to partner with the Quill Center through loans of its exhibits to the Quill Center.

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings joined in lauding the Irish American Heritage Museum’s move to the city. In a statement, Mayor Jennings said, “This museum is an important part of our community, inspiring countless residents and visitors to discover the story and may contributions of the Irish people and their culture in America, and even learn a bit about their own heritage along the way.”

Museum to Launch New Fundraising Campaign

The Museum will be launching a new fundraising campaign to help it sustain its mission and to provide future Capital Region generations a sense of the importance of their own heritage compass – whatever their heritage legacy might be – to help guide them in their lives. “In an age when we are all connected to each other through the internet, cell phones and so many other electronic devices, we would serve younger generations well by helping them stay connected to their heritage,” Collins explained. “The Museum is committed to the basic tenet that preserving one’s heritage is vital to providing a cultural and historical foundation to future generations of Americans. To paraphrase the Pulitzer Prize winning historian David McCullough, ‘Our heritage is who we are, and why we are who we are.’“

Excellence in Preservation Awards Announced


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The Preservation League of New York State has selected the interior restoration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany to receive an award for Excellence in Historic Preservation.

The League’s statewide awards program honors notable achievements in retaining, promoting and reusing New York State’s irreplaceable architectural heritage.

“As the lengthy exterior restoration project continues on this Patrick Keely-designed Cathedral, the Awards Jury felt that it was fitting to recognize the completion of the interior restoration effort,” said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League. “After a century and a half of continuous use, the ornate interior has been returned to its former glory.”

Contributing to the success of this project were Reverend William H. Pape, Rector, Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; Elizabeth Simcoe, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany; Laurence F. Wilson, Lynn Webster, Robert N. Pierpont and Katherine Onufer, Mesick Cohen Wilson Baker Architects; Richard Zandri, Geoff Miles, and Ed Kaczynski, Zandri Construction Corporation, A. Curtis Wilsey, P.E., Quantum Engineering Co. PC; Dennis Fleischer, Ph.D., MuSonics; Naomi Miller, FIESNA, FIALD, LC, Naomi Miller Lighting Design; and Jack C. Healy, P.E., Ryan-Biggs Associates, PC.

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, completed in 1852, is an excellent example of Gothic Revival architecture. The building’s grand interior features a ribbed vaulted ceiling with ornate cast plaster bosses and robust clustered columns creating a series of archways throughout the space. Last painted in 1946, the interior was a monochrome brown. Close inspection revealed that much of the plasterwork was in need of repair, and water-damaged walls, ceilings, and cracked and gouged moldings were visible throughout the structure. The interior restoration is part of a decades-long effort to restore and rejuvenate the Cathedral to ensure that it continues to serve as a landmark of architectural excellence for the city of Albany.

According to William H. Pape, Rector of the Cathedral, “The restoration brings to life many of the architectural details that were hidden by the last painting of the interior more than 60 years ago. The color palette was painstakingly researched, and is based on the completed interior of 1892. The historic terra-cotta colored faux-stone scheme is frequently perceived by visitors as real stone. The base color and hand-applied glazing is warm, welcoming and maintains a sense of awe. “

The award will be presented at the Preservation League’s Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony in New York City at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 12th at the historic New York Yacht Club, 37 West 44th Street.

The complete list of award winners is: The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Interior, Albany County; The Franklin Building, Jefferson County; The Knox Building, the New York Public Library Exterior, and Pierpont Morgan’s 1906 Library Interior, all in New York County; 1844 Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct, Onondaga County; and Montour House, Schuyler County. Uncovering the Underground Railroad, Abolitionism and African American Life in Wayne County, New York: 1820-1880 by Judith Wellman and Marjory Allen Perez will be honored as an outstanding publication. CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity in Syracuse will be honored for organizational excellence. Howard Kirschenbaum will be honored for individual excellence for his contribution to historic preservation in the Adirondack Park.

“In New York State, the preservation and reuse of our historic buildings is fundamental to the economic revitalization of our cities, towns, and villages. The League’s annual Awards program allows us to share preservation success stories that may one day serve as inspiration to others,” said DiLorenzo. “Each year, we are impressed by the number and variety of laudable nominations, and this year was no exception. We are delighted to present this award for the interior restoration of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and to give the effort the statewide recognition it deserves.”

The Preservation League’s Excellence in Historic Preservation awards program is funded by a generous grant from the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Foundation of Miami, Florida.

Photo: Interior of Albany’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, courtesy MCWB Architects.

Albany County Hall of Records Open House


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In honor of the Albany County Hall of Records (ACHOR) 10th Anniversary at 95 Tivoli Street, Albany County Clerk Thomas G. Clingan has announced that there will be an open house at the Hall of Records on April 27, 2011 from 2-4 PM. This current location is the third home of the Hall of Records; the first was the Albany High School Annex at 27 Western Avenue from 1982 -1986, followed by 250 South Pearl Street from 1986-2001.

Exhibits and tours of the Hall of Records will be available, including areas normally off-limits to visitors. ACHOR presently holds 12,890 cubic feet of archival records and 75,025 cubic feet of inactive records, all stored in a secure warehouse setting that is significantly more cost-effective for records storage than regular office space. A 992 square-foot concrete vault located within the building stores the most rare and valuable records, including the original 1686 Dongan Charter of the City of Albany.

ACHOR is a joint program of the County and City of Albany, making records available to the public in a state-of-the-art facility. Among the items on special display on April 27 will be: Albany County Sheriff’s Department Bertillon Mug Shots, 1896; Civil War Allotments and Bounty Records, 1862-1864; Register of Manumitted Slaves, 1800-1828 and the Court of Fort Orange and Beverwijck Minutes, 1652-1656.

Further information about the Albany County Hall of Records and directions to the facility can be found online.

If you are interested in attending the open house or a tour of the Hall of Records, please contact Deputy Director Craig Carlson at 436-3663 ext. 204 or ccarlson@albanycounty.com

Mohawk-Hudson Artist Call for Entries


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The Albany Institute of History & Art has issued a call for entries for the 2011 Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region, which the museum will host from July 9 through September 4. Entries are due by April 25, 2011. Established in 1936 and celebrating its 75th year, the Mohawk-Hudson Regional is one of the longest-running regional exhibitions in the country. This annual, juried exhibition occupies a major role in the history of contemporary art activity in the Upper Hudson Valley.

Highlighting the work of artists working within a 100-mile radius of Albany and Glens Falls, The Regional rotates every three years among the Albany Institute, the University Art Museum at the University at Albany, and The Hyde Collection. The Regional has become a barometer of contemporary art, as well as a means of support for emerging and established artists in the Capital District. Local arts patrons and businesses provide cash prizes and gift certificates that the juror awards to selected artists.

The juror for the exhibition is Holly Hughes, an artist, working in painting, printmaking, and ceramics, with studios in New York City and Columbia County. Hughes is a Professor at the Rhode Island School of Design and has extensive visiting-artist experience at other institutions, and as a teacher, lecturer, critic, juror, and curator. Her work––represented in numerous public collections––has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and reviewed in publications such as ARTnews, Art Forum, Art in America, and The New York Times.

For more information about the exhibition, call (518) 463-4478 or visit www.albanyinstitute.org. Downloadable entry forms are available on the website.

State Capitol Fire of 1911 Commemoration


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In the early morning hours of March 29, 1911, a fire broke out in the New York State Capitol at Albany. By sunset, the vast collection of the New York State Library, then housed in the Capitol, had been reduced to ashes.

To commemorate the centennial of the fire, coauthors Paul Mercer and Vicki Weiss, both of the New York State Library, have published The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911 (Arcadia Press, 2011) including rare images and documents from the special collections of the modern library, which arose from the ruins of the 1911 fire.

The public is invited join Executive Deputy Chief Warren Abriel of the Albany Fire Department to mark the 100th Anniversary of this historic event on Tuesday, March 29, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the University Club of Albany. The reception will feature light fare and cash bar, and authors Mercer and Weiss will discuss and sign the book. Royalties from book sales benefit the Friends of the New York State Library.

The event will also feature a preview of a documentary set to air on March 31 on WMHT, The New York Capitol Fire. Robert Altman, President and CEO of WMHT Educational Communications, will introduce a clip of the video, which draws on interviews, archival materials and reenactments. This WMHT documentary was created in collaboration with the New York State Museum, the New York State Archives, the Albany Institute, the New York State Library, the City of Albany and the Commission on the Restoration of the Capitol.

The cost for the reception, book signing and video preview is $20 per person. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the University Club at (518) 463-1151.

A portion of the proceeds from this event benefit the University Club Foundation, formed to recognize and maintain the unique historic and architectural significance of the University Club building and property, its historic neighborhood and the city of Albany, where it has been located since its inception in 1901.

Support for educational programming presented by the University Club of Albany Foundation, Inc. is provided by AT&T.

Photo: Fire-destroyed reading room in State Capitol, Albany, NY, 1911. Courtesy New York State Archives.

State Museum 1911 Capitol Fire Exhibit Opening


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The “1911 Capitol Fire” exhibition will open at the New York State Museum on March 19 as part of a series of special events and programs commemorating the 100th anniversary of the devastating fire that struck the New York State Capitol.

Many Albany residents awoke in the early morning hours on March 29, 1911 to see the Capitol on fire. The entire western side of the presumed fireproof building was engulfed in flames shooting 200 feet high. The fast-moving flames destroyed much of the State Library, the fifth largest in the U.S., which was housed in the Capitol.

More than 8,000 Museum objects stored in the Capitol were also destroyed or lost. The fire caused the unprecedented destruction of the state’s intellectual, cultural and historic property and also claimed the life of the lone night watchman.

Special events will include a commemoration ceremony at the Capitol on March 29 at 10 a.m., sponsored by the New York State Commission on the Restoration of the Capitol. The State Museum also will host a preview of a WMHT documentary – “The New York Capitol Fire” – in the Huxley Theater on Monday, March 28 at 12:15 p.m. It will air on WMHT on Thursday, March 31.

Open until June 18 in the lobby of the Office of Cultural Education (OCE), the exhibition is a collaboration between the State Museum, State Library and State Archives and chronicles how the fire affected each of the OCE institutions and their collections. It is based largely on the book, “The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911,” written by Paul Mercer and Vicki Weiss, senior librarians in the State Library’s Manuscripts and Special Collections unit.

The exhibition will include dramatic photographs, eyewitness accounts and artifacts that survived the blaze. One of those is a section of the iron chain link that stretched across the Hudson River between West Point and Constitution Island to prevent British vessels from navigating up the river during the American Revolution. West Point was a strategic site because of the s-curve in the Hudson there that forced large ships to slow down and become an easy target. The links were recovered from the State Library ruins after the fire. Another section of the chain is preserved at the West Point Military Academy.

Also on display are an 1892 fire helmet, lantern and fire nozzle, courtesy of Warren W. Abriel, a deputy chief in the Albany fire department and a fourth-generation Albany firefighter. The helmet was worn by Abriel’s great-grandfather, Reuben H. Abriel, who manned Steamer 2 for the Albany Fire Department when it was a volunteer force.

There also will be several objects showing fire damage that were part of the Museum’s world-famous Lewis Henry Morgan collection. New York state commissioned Morgan to gather objects from the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) communities in the state and from the Six Nations reserve in Canada in 1849-50. All but 50 of some 500 objects were on exhibit.

On the day of the fire Arthur C. Parker, who was Seneca and the state’s first archaeologist, risked his life to save Museum collections and wrote that he was only able to save about 1,500 of the 10,000 objects. The only items in the Morgan collection that survived were in his office. The Parker family assisted Morgan in assembling the collection.

More information on the Morgan collection will be available at one of the programs planned at the Museum to complement the exhibition. The talks are all on Tuesdays at 12:15 p.m. They are:

* March 29 – Talk and Book Signing: “The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911.” Mercer and Weiss will present dramatic stories and images from their new book. The book will be for sale after the talk and also is available in the Museum shop and from the Friends of the New York State Library – http://nyslfriends.org/, which will receive all royalties from the book.
* April 5 – “The Conservation of Burned Documents.” Paper conservator Susan Bove of the State Archives will discuss contemporary preservation methods that were used to repair documents salvaged from the Capitol Fire. She will also talk about the conservation treatment protocol that she developed to meet the needs of these especially fragile items.
* Tuesday, April 12 – “Lessons Learned: Modern Response to Fire Events in Cultural Institutions.”

Paper conservator Michele Phillips of the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s Bureau of Historic Sites will provide an overview of best practices in action to safeguard collections and their impact on salvage and recovery.

Tuesday, April 19 – “A Capitol Loss: The Lewis Henry Morgan Collection.” Dr. Betty J. Duggan, the Museum’s curator of Ethnography and Ethnology, recounts the collection’s history and the experience of its young curator, Arthur C. Parker, during and after the fire.

The State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: Amateur photographer Harry Roy Sweney captured the Capitol inferno at 3:30 a.m. on March 29, 1911. The New York American paid $25.00 for the first print of this dramatic photograph. Courtesy New York State Library, Manuscripts and Special Collections.