Tag Archives: New York State Museum

New Contributor: State Historian Robert Weible


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Please welcome our newest contributor here at the online journal New York History, State Historian of New York and Chief Curator of the New York State Museum Robert Weible

Before taking on the role of State Historian Weible served as Director of Public History for the State Museum of Pennsylvania, Acting Director of the Pennsylvania State Archives, Chief of the Division of History for the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission, and Historian of Lowell National Park in Massachusetts. Continue reading

Vietnam War Graffiti Exhibit Opens Veterans Day


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The personal thoughts and feelings of American soldiers and Marines going to war in Southeast Asia come to life in the “Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam” exhibition opening Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) at the New York State Museum.

The stories of these soldiers and Marines are told through the graffiti they left behind on the bunk canvases they slept on, aboard a ship that brought them to Vietnam in 1966-67. Eight canvases inscribed by soldiers from New York state are included in the traveling exhibition, open until Feb. 26, 2012. Uncertain about their future, the young troop passengers inscribed personal thoughts about families, hometowns, patriotism, love, anxiety, discomfort and humor.

Their canvases, bunks and personal items were discovered in 1997 onboard the General Nelson M. Walker. The transport ship was being scrapped after seeing service during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars. In between it was in reserve status in a Hudson River berthing area, near New York City, for six years. Military historian Art Beltrone discovered the historic graffiti and other artifacts during a trip to Virginia’s James River Reserve Fleet, where the ship had been relocated from New York.

When discovered, the Walker was a veritable floating time capsule, filled with hundreds of historical artifacts relating to the Vietnam War, the 1960s, and the men who went to war. Many of those artifacts will be on display. Included is an original eight-man rack of sleeping bunks, complete with the original mattresses, sheets, pillows, blankets and life vests. The rack shows how confining living space was during the uncomfortable 18-23 day, over 5,000-mile voyage to Vietnam. There also is clothing, shoes, comic books, magazines and copies of The Walker Report, the ship’s official newspaper written, printed and distributed by troop passengers. Other personal objects left behind, such as playing cards, empty cigarette and candy wrappers, liquor bottles, religious tracts and rosary beads, were found hidden under the sheets.

The multi-dimensional exhibition also includes two short films, “Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam” and “Discovery of a Forgotten Troopship,” which can also be viewed online.

The exhibition is curated by Beltrone and his wife, Lee of Keswick, Va. Together they founded the Vietnam Graffiti Project (VGP) which, assisted by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, is dedicated to finding the graffiti writers and Walker voyage passengers to tell and preserve their stories. VGP is still trying to identify many of the writers, including many of those from New York state. Among those who have been found are Harmon Adams of Kenmore, near Buffalo, and Dave Dubreck of Churchville, near Rochester.

State Museum Exhibits Burns Archives Photos


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A new exhibition – Shadow and Substance: African American Images from The Burns Archive – has opened at the New York State Museum, showcasing rarely-seen photographs from one of the largest private photography collections in the world.

Open through March 31, 2012 in the Photography Gallery, the exhibition allows the viewer to perceive how African-Americans were seen by others and how they wished to be seen. These images do not tell a complete story of the past, but their eloquent shadows provide unique glimpses into the lives of African-Americans over the past 160 years.

The 113 images in Shadow and Substance include portraits, snapshots and photographs of celebration, tragedy and quiet joy, work and family, strength and perseverance. From early images of slaves and Civil War soldiers to new voters and political activists, the exhibition is filled with illustrations of achievement and shocking evidence of intolerance. Some images may not be suitable for young children.

The images were culled from the comprehensive Burns Archive of Historic Vintage Photographs that include specializations in medical and health care, death and dying, sports and recreation, in addition to images of African-Americans. The collection was amassed by Dr. Stanley B. Burns, an ophthalmologist, collector and curator in New York City who was the founding donor for several photography collections, including those of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Burns has authored several books including “A Morning’s Work: Medical Photographs from the Burns Archive & Collection, 1843-1939”; “Sleeping Beauty: Memorial Photography in America” and “Forgotten Marriage: The Painted Tintype and Decorative Frame, 1860-1910.”

The traveling exhibition is organized by the Indiana State Museum and curated by Dr. Modupe Labode, assistant professor of history and public scholar of African-American History and Museum Studies at Indiana University.

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 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

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.

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.

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.

Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibit Opens


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The Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibition has returned to the New York State Museum in Albany, showcasing the work of SUNY’s top student artists from across the state.

Open through August 6, the exhibition features art works chosen by individual art departments across SUNY’s 64 campuses. It is a juried show featuring 64 works selected from more than 144 artistic pieces submitted for the fall 2010 and spring 2011 SUNY student art exhibition at the State University Plaza. The traditional areas of drawing, ceramics, painting, printmaking, photography and sculpture are enhanced by the addition of digital imaging and mixed media installations.

Three student artists in the Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibition will receive $1,000 scholarships. “Honorable Mention” awards of $500 will be given to four other students. The winners have not been selected.

The SUNY student art shows were started in 2002 so that the work of SUNY’s most talented student artists would be seen by a wider audience. This will be the fourth time since 2006 that the State Museum hosted the exhibition.

The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive university system in the nation, educating more than 467,000 students in 7,500 degree and certificate programs.

Illustration: An untitled oil by Victoria Wrubel, part of the exhibition “Best of SUNY Student Art Exhibition” at the New York State Museum. Photo courtesy of Joe Putrock.

11th Annual Algonquian Peoples Seminar


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The Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and The New York State Museum have announced the program for this year’s 11th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar to be held at the NYS Museum in Albany April 30, 2011.

This year’s featured topics will include: Archaeological Research on First Peoples of Eastern New York and the New England-Maritimes, Life’s Immortal Shell: Wampum as a Light and Life Metaphor, The 150th Anniversay of the Mohican Stockbridge-Munsee in the Civil War, Frank Speck on Penobscot and Iroquois Worldviews in the Cosmological Narratives, Investigation of the Vosburg Archaeological District, Growing up on the Reservation, Lithic reduction & resource use in southern New York State and the Stephentown Mounds


For a complete schedule and registration information email Mariann Mantzouris, Seminar Chairwoman at marimantz@aol.com or call 518-369-8116.

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.

Event: State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911


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On Sunday, March 6, at 2:00 pm, the Albany Institute of History & Art will host a free lecture and book-signing by Paul Mercer and Vicki Weis, authors of the recently published book, The New York State Capitol and the Great Fire of 1911 (Arcadia Publishing, 2011). The lecture will complement a library case display at the Albany Institute of 10 historic photographs documenting the event, including the only known photo in existence of the full view of the building fully consumed by flames.

Weiss and Paul, of the New York State Library’s Manuscripts and Special Collections will discuss their pictorial history of the fire, which occurred on March 29, 1911. The book combines dramatic photographs with eyewitness accounts of the fire, which severely damaged the western portion of the capitol.

Virtually the entire collection of the State Library—as well as significant holdings of the New York State Museum—were destroyed in the blaze, which struck as the Education Department was mere months from relocating to the State Education Building across the street. The book tells not only the story of the fire and its aftermath, but also recounts the history of the construction of the capitol, as well as the pre- and post-fire history of the library.

The Albany Institute of History & Art’s library case display documenting the event includes a selection of 10 rare photos, showing both exterior and interior views taken during and after the actual fire. It also includes images of many of the firemen who responded to the blaze, The display opens on March 4 and closes in June. Viewing is free and open to the public.

The March 6 lecture and book-signing is free and open to the public. Museum admission is not included. Call (518) 463-4478 or visit www.albanyinstitute.org for more information.

State Museum, Library to Close Saturday, Reopen Mon


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The New York State Museum, State Library and State Archives will be closed to the public on Saturday, March 5 due to an annually scheduled power shutdown to test the emergency power system in the Cultural Education Center building.

The Office of Cultural Education (OCE) building is closed on Sundays. The State Museum, Library and Archives will reopen on Monday, March 7.

The State Museum, State Archives and State Library are cultural 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 at www.oce.nysed.gov.

11th Mohican and Algonquin People’s Seminar


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The Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley and The New York State Museum invites you to submit a paper or other presentation to be given at the 11th Mohican/Algonquian Peoples Seminar held at the NYS Museum in Albany on April 30th, 2011. Topics can be any aspect of Northeastern Native American culture from prehistory to present. Presentations are allotted 20 minutes speaking time.

Interested parties are encouraged to submit a one page abstract that includes a brief biographical sketch and notes any special scheduling and/ or equipment needs. For presentations other than traditional papers, please describe content and media that will be used to make the presentation. Deadline for abstract submission is February 1, 2011.


The Selection Committee, made up of Board members, will notify presenters no later than February 10, 2011. The final paper should meet common publication standards. The paper should be foot noted “author-date” style; sources are cited in the text in parentheses by author’s last name and date, with a reference to a list of books or
sources at the end of the paper. Also, a disc containing the article, bibliography, illustrations (referred to as figure 1, figure 2 etc.) and captions for the illustrations should be submitted to the Board at the Seminar.

Send abstracts to:

Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley (NAIHRV)
c/o Mariann Mantzouris
PO Box 327
Sand Lake, NY 12153

State Museum Presents State’s Great Places Event


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State historic sites and cultural institutions will provide fun hands-on activities and educational artifacts to explore to acquaint visitors with “New York State’s Great Places and Spaces” January 15 at the New York State Museum.

The free event, which is part of the Museum’s January Family Fun Day, will be held from noon to 4 p.m. in several first floor galleries including Adirondack Wilderness, Birds of New York, Native Peoples of New York and South Hall.

Participants include the State Museum, State Library, Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Olana State Historic Site, Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Clermont State Historic Site, Shaker Heritage Society, Albany County Historical Society/Ten Broeck Mansion, Historic Cherry Hill, Crailo State Historic Site, Johnson Hall Historic Site, the Underground Railroad History Project, Salem Art Works, the Adirondack Museum, the New York State Military Museum, the Arkell Art Museum, Schoharie Crossing Historic Site, the Empire State Aero Space Museum, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and the Living History Education Foundation.

Visitors will be able to play the Hudson River Valley Trading Game on a 32-foot long game board, explore objects from Thomas Cole’s studio and add to a community landscape, try landscape drawing, weave on a small loom and view reproduction 1870’s stereographs of the Shaker site. There also will be many hands-on activities, including
opportunities to touch bear fur, try on a cradleboard and learn more about the Haudenosaunee at the State Museum’s Native Peoples cart.

Also, Craig Gravina, a State Museum exhibition designer, will provide a behind-the-scenes tour to discuss the design and installation of the Museum’s Citizen Soldier: New York’s National Guard in the American Century exhibition.

Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website.

On The New York State Museum’s Sunday Hours


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Beginning January 1, 2011 the New York State Museum will have new hours of operation, including being closed on Sundays. The Museum will be open Monday – Saturday 9:30am – 5:00pm.

During the one weekend in February when the museum hosts NY in Bloom and the Annual Gem and Mineral Show. That weekend the Museum is open on Sunday. It’s also the only weekend when Admission is charged, as a fundraiser for the Museum’s after school program.

New York in Bloom – 20th Anniversary
Friday, February 25 -Sunday, February 27 ▪ 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
1st Floor Exhibition Halls ▪ Adults ▪ Children ▪ Admission Fee:
Friday-$5/Adult; Saturday and Sunday-$6/Adult. Children age 12 and under FREE

Experience the sights and scents of the approaching spring during this 20th annual fund-raising weekend benefiting Museum Club and Discovery Squad, the Museum’s award-winning after-school programs for children and teens. Free parking available next to the Museum on Saturday and Sunday. $6 entrance fee to the Museum on Saturday and Sunday includes admission to the 18th Annual James Campbell Memorial Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show and Sale on the 4th Floor. For information, call 518-474-5877.

18th Annual James Campbell Memorial Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show and Sale
Saturday, February 26 and Sunday, February 27 ▪ 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 4th Floor ▪ Adults ▪ Children ▪ Admission Fee: $6/Adult; Children age 12 and under FREE

Vendors from throughout the Northeast display and sell gems, jewelry, minerals, lapidary equipment, fossils, and much more. Meanwhile on the 1st Floor, staff members conduct guided tours of the mineral and fossil exhibitions and are on hand to identify visitors’ own minerals and fossils. Call 518-474-5877 for information about times and locations. $6 entrance fee to the Museum on Saturday and Sunday includes admission to all New York in Bloom activities on the 1st Floor. For information, call 518-474-5877.

PBS Documentary Coming to NYS Museum


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The New York State Museum will present a PBS documentary December 11 about the Scotia-based New York Air National Guard Wing’s journey to Greenland with a team of international scientists investigating global warming.

“Arctic Air: A Greenlandic Journey with the 109th” will be shown free-of-charge at 2 p.m. in the Museum’s Huxley Theater. Following the film there will be a question-and-answer session with Amy Manley, the film’s producer and Lt Col Kurt Bedore, a navigator from the 109th Airlift Wing.

The documentary was produced by WCNY, a PBS television station in Syracuse, which traveled alongside American and international teams of scientists as they were transported to Greenland by the 109th Airlift Wing in the summer of 2009.

Flying the United States Air Force’s only ski-equipped C-130 Hercules cargo planes, the Wing provides vital support for polar researchers working in the Arctic and Antarctica. “Arctic Air” captures the Wing members’ commitment as they face many challenges in a frozen land that is both beautiful and dangerous. The skilled pilots and their crews transport supplies, cargo and staff to and from Greenland in temperatures that threaten to freeze their planes’ fuel and hydraulic fluid.

The film shows the camps where American and international teams of scientists seek to unlock mysteries of the past buried deep within the polar ice cap to help provide answers to some of today’s most important questions about climate change and global warning. Lack of pollution, unique topography and untouched flows of glacial ice have made the Greenland ice sheet an ideal laboratory for this research. The 109th Airlift Wing missions have made it possible for scientists from around the world to gather the critical data that is now shaping political, environmental and economic policies on climate change.

WCNY is also providing an online teachers’ guide to the documentary with grade-appropriate activities and links to educational resources for classroom and student research use. The suggested activities focus on the topics introduced in the film including scientific Arctic exploration, Arctic aviation, climate control, global warming, life in Greenland, and unique career opportunities for students to explore.

More information on the documentary and the teachers’ guide is available at www.wcny.org/arcticair.

Information about Museum programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: LC-130H (Skier 96) taking off with jet assisted rockets taken April 2003 on
the Greenland Ice Cap by Todd Valentic, Senior Research Engineer, Center for
GeoSpace Studies.

State Museum Adds to ‘Citizen Soldier’ Exhibit


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In honor of Veteran’s Day, the New York State Museum has installed two new cases in its Citizen Soldier exhibition, including personal items of the late Sgt. David Fisher, formerly of Watervliet, who was killed in Iraq in December 2004.

Vicki DiMura, the mother of Sgt. Fisher, has loaned the items to the Museum for display in the section of the exhibition documenting the role of Task Force Wolfhound in Iraq. The 21-year-old graduate of Watervliet High School was one of the Task Force Wolfhound soldiers and served with the 1st Battalion 101st Cavalry based at the Glenmore Road Armory in Troy. He was working as a humvee gunner during a patrol in Baghdad when his vehicle rolled over during a high-speed maneuver intended to avoid improvised explosive devices.

The items installed in the exhibition include a print of a portrait of Sgt. Fisher painted by artist Phil Taylor of the American Fallen Soldiers Project that provides, at no cost to family members, an original portrait of their loved one. Also on display are a memorial bracelet, a copy of Sgt. Fisher’s dog tags, a photo of him taken on the day he was killed, an unfinished lego tank, a stuffed Elmo doll given to Fisher by his unit on his 21st birthday, a frog ornament honoring Fisher’s nickname of “Squeak Frog” and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy.

The other new addition to the exhibition is in the Spanish-American War section. It includes a cartridge belt with .45-70 cartridges worn by Sgt. James S. Martin of Brooklyn. This was loaned to the Museum by Martin’s grandson, Marty Pickands of Delmar. Martin enlisted in Company L, the 71st regiment. He and his regiment marched to San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders. Following the battle, Sgt. Martin was stricken with yellow fever and was so ill that he was mistaken for dead and placed alongside other American dead. A passing soldier noticed Martin “twitch” and promptly sought medical help for him. He later attended Yale Medical School and became a doctor.

The “Citizen Soldier: New York’s National Guard in the American Century” exhibition recounts the history of the New York National Guard and those who carried out its mission through wars and battles, natural disasters and national emergencies. The exhibition features personal stories of soldiers from across New York State, as well as mementos, uniforms, and artillery pieces from the State Museum, New York State Military Museum, members of New York’s National Guard, and local collectors.

Open in Exhibition Hall through March 2011, the exhibition can also be found on the Museum’s website. The exhibition focuses on the 20th century, which witnessed the transformation of the United States from an isolationist nation into a dominant power with the ability to shape world events. It was dubbed the American Century in 1941 by Time Magazine Publisher Henry Luce. During that time the National Guard evolved from an ill-equipped and poorly trained militia into a modern-day force capable of protecting American interests around the world.

Encompassing nearly 7,000 square feet of gallery space, the exhibition covers the service of New Yorkers in the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the first Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also included are the missions closer to home – the Capitol Fire (1911), blizzards in Buffalo (1944, 1977) and New York City (1996), the Woodstock concert (1969), the Attica riots (1971), the ice storm in northern New York (1998), the Mechanicville tornado (1998), the 2001 terrorist attacks and other smaller calamities around the state.

Visitors entering the exhibition will see the M8 Greyhound Light Armored Car that was first introduced into combat in 1943. The 16,000-pound vehicle was used in all theaters of World War II, including Europe, where it was issued to the men of the 101st Cavalry Group of the New York National Guard. The car is now owned by Gregory Wolanin of Loudonville. Also on display are a flamethrower and bazooka, a 37 mm gun, as well as various other military equipment. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see the History Channel film, “Defending America,” which will be shown in the gallery.

There are many personal stories of courage and heroism throughout the exhibition. Medals of Honor were awarded to Col. William J. O’Brien and Sgt. Thomas A. Baker of Troy, both of the 105th Infantry Regiment, for their courage in the face of a horrifying enemy attack by the Japanese on Saipan in 1944. First Sgt. James Meltz of Cropseyville, a member of the 108th Infantry Regiment, received the Bronze Star for valor after rescuing fellow soldiers from a burning humvee in Afghanistan in 2008.

The exhibition also features profiles of other members of the 108th Infantry who served in Iraq, including Sgt. 1st Class John Ross of Latham, Sgt. 1st Class Luis Barsallo of Halfmoon and Private 1st Class Nathan Brown of Glens Falls. Brown was killed in Iraq in 2004 when an insurgent fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the back of the 5-ton truck he was riding in.

Landscape of Memory: Prints by Frank Eckmair


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The first exhibition of its kind — “The Landscape of Memory: Prints by Frank C. Eckmair” — opens at the New York State Museum November 19 showcasing the works of one of the nation’s most accomplished printmakers.

Open until September 18, 2011 in Crossroads Gallery, the exhibition comes from the Museum’s own 386-piece collection, which is the largest museum collection of Eckmair’s works that exists. The Museum’s curatorial and exhibition team worked with Eckmair during the last few years to archive his lifework, document the way he makes the prints and develop the exhibition.

The exhibition features more than 80 works, mostly landscapes, which include framed woodcut prints, as well as wood engravings, sculptures and the original woodblocks that track Eckmair’s career as an artist and lifelong resident of Gilbertsville in central New York. Also included are wood engraving tools and an early 20th-century Poco Proof printing press, on loan from Eckmair.

While growing up in central New York, Eckmair developed an affinity for the quiet landscape of the rural areas of that part of the state. His subjects are its farm fields, stone walls, abandoned homes, and old barns.

Although he did all kinds of printmaking Eckmair preferred woodcuts, noting that “wood is a poor man’s material.”

During the 1950s, printmaking grew in stature in New York with the rise of the New York School, a group of artists, poets, and musicians centered in the city. On Long Island, the influential Universal Limited Art Editions studio encouraged collaborations between artists and writers, provided

printmaking space, and brought prints to collectors, galleries, and museums. Finally, the explosive growth of State University of New York campuses during the postwar period led to the establishment of major printmaking programs that are still operating today.

Born in 1930, Eckmair spent his early years drawing and working at his father’s hotel in Gilbertsville, a small village in Otsego County, west of Cooperstown. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of Iowa, where he studied with Mauricio Lasansky, who is considered to be the “father of 20th-century American printmaking.” After teaching public school, Eckmair served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea, Japan, and the northwestern United States. He then received a Master of Fine Arts in printmaking from Ohio University. From 1963 to 1995 he was a key figure in the print studio of Buffalo State College, where he was a revered professor and influenced a generation of artists. While working in Buffalo, he maintained his family residence in Gilbertsville.

Eckmair’s work received its earliest recognition through American Associated Artists (AAA), a program founded to market affordable fine art prints to the American public. Like earlier artists such as Grant Wood, John Steuart Curry, and Thomas Hart Benton, Eckmair created prints of regional landscapes for AAA that had great populist appeal. Considered a master of the woodcut and represented in major collections around the world, Eckmair continues to create haunting works evoking rural life in upstate New York. He is the artistic director of Birch Book Press, a publisher of hand-crafted letterpress books and art.

Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Citizen Soldier Exhibit Now Online


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The New York State Museum’s story of the New York Army National Guard is now online.

“Citizen Soldier: New York’s National Guard in the American Century” chronicles a history that is based on a tradition dating back to colonial times in a state that has always been guided by the principle that its defense lies in the hands of its citizenry.

“Citizen soldiers are everyday people who put their lives on hold to defend, aid and protect their communities and their country,” a museum press release says. “From militiamen defending their homes on the colonial frontier, to individuals serving in conflicts around the globe, New Yorkers continue this legacy of service to the present day.”

The exhibit is open in the museum’s exhibition hall through March 2011. Photos from the exhibit, as well as an interactive history timeline can now be found on the museum’s website at www.nysm.nysed.gov/citizensoldier.

The displays in the exhibition hall, and the online information, focuses on the 20th century, which witnessed the transformation of the United States from an isolationist nation into a dominant power with the ability to shape world events. It was dubbed the American Century in 1941 by Time Magazine Publisher Henry Luce.

During that time the National Guard evolved from an ill-equipped and poorly trained militia into a modern-day force capable of protecting American interests around the world. The 16,000 men and women who serve in the New York Army National Guard today fulfill a variety of critical missions both at home and abroad.

Encompassing nearly 7,000 square feet of gallery space, the exhibition covers the service of New Yorkers in the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the first Persian Gulf War in 1991 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Also included are the missions closer to home – the Capitol Fire (1911), blizzards in Buffalo (1944, 1977) and New York City (1996), the Woodstock concert (1969), the Attica riots (1971), the ice storm in northern New York (1998), the Mechanicville tornado (1998), the 2001 terrorist attacks and other smaller calamities around the state.

Visitors entering the exhibition will see the M8 Greyhound Light Armored Car that was first introduced into combat in 1943. The 16,000-pound vehicle was used in all theaters of World War II, including Europe, where it was issued to the men of the 101st Cavalry Group of the New York National Guard.

The car is now owned by Gregory Wolanin of Loudonville. Also on display are a flamethrower and bazooka, a 37 mm gun, and various other military equipment. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see the History Channel film, “Defending America,” which will be shown in the gallery.

There are many personal stories of courage and heroism throughout the exhibition. One of those is that of Sgt. Henry Johnson of Albany, a member of the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment who single-handedly fought off a group of German soldiers before collapsing from 21 wounds during a battle in France in 1918. It wasn’t until 1996 that Johnson was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, and 2003 when the Army awarded him the Distinguished Service Cross, this nation’s second highest award for valor.

Medals of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor, were awarded to Col. William J. O’Brien and Sgt. Thomas A. Baker of Troy, both of the 105th Infantry Regiment, for their courage in the face of a horrifying enemy attack by the Japanese on Saipan in 1944. Also included is the story of Sgt. LeRoy Sprague of Elmira of the 108th Infantry Regiment who received a Purple Heart after being seriously wounded in 1945 during fighting on the island of Luzon in the Philippine Islands.

First Sgt. James Meltz of Cropseyville, a member of the 108th Infantry Regiment, received the Bronze Star for valor after rescuing fellow soldiers from a burning humvee during a Taliban ambush in Afghanistan in 2008.

The exhibition also features profiles of other members of the 108th Infantry who served in Iraq, including Sgt. 1st Class John Ross of Latham, Sgt. 1st Class Luis Barsallo of Halfmoon and Private 1st Class Nathan Brown of Glens Falls. Brown was killed in Iraq in 2004 when an insurgent fired a rocket-propelled grenade into the back of the 5-ton truck he was riding in.

Also included in the exhibition are a bronze bust and other items related to Maj. Gen. John Francis Ryan, who grew up in Morrisania, Westchester Co. and became the commander of the New York National Guard in 1912. He led the 27th Division on the Mexican border and to victory in World War I.

A section of the exhibition is devoted to women in the New York National Guard. Featured here are profiles of Spc. Amy Klemm of Ronkonkoma, who volunteered to serve in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and Capt. Tara Dawe of Queens, who volunteered for service in Bosnia and later passed up Officer Candidate School so that she could deploy with her unit, the 442nd MP Company, to Iraq.

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 daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information about programs and events can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting www.nysm.nysed.gov.

NY Landscape Exhibit Opens at NYS Museum


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“Not Just Another Pretty Place: The Landscape of New York” opens at the New York State Museum September 3rd showcasing the many different ways views of New York have been captured and used by artists, photographers, scientists and others during the past 200 years.

This is the first exhibition of landscape art to be completely culled from the State Museum’s vast collections. On display in the Museum’s West Gallery, this exhibition takes a unique look at the landscape art form, looking beyond the purely aesthetic. It features more than 100 landscape scenes and includes paintings, photographs, prints, ceramics, furniture and much more.

The rich and varied landscape of New York State has been a subject of interest to artists, photographers, historians, and scientists alike for hundreds of years. Artists have used the landscape in their work to draw tourists to Niagara Falls or the Adirondacks, create allegorical scenes of the Hudson River for advertising, and document the ever-changing streets of New York City.

The exhibition includes works by Currier & Ives, Seneca Ray Stoddard, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Thomas Benjamin Pope, Fairfield Porter, Edward Gay, Asa Twitchell, E.L. Henry and William Henry Jackson.

A complementary photo exhibition will also open on September 3 outside West Gallery in the West Hall Corridor. “Wish You Were Here! New York State Photographed by You” will feature photographs of the scenic New York State landscape submitted by the general public. These can be photographs of a beloved vacation spot or even the backyard, neighborhood street or other favorite place. Images chosen for the exhibition, as well as others that are submitted, will also appear on the Museum’s website and flickr page. Photographs will still be accepted after September 3, since new ones will continually be added to both the gallery and website.

Those wishing to submit photos for “Wish You Were Here” will find further information online.