Tag Archives: New York State Museum

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.

NYS Musuem Invites Exhibition Photo Submissions

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The New York State Museum is inviting the public to submit their digital photographs of scenic New York State landscapes, the best of which will be showcased in an upcoming Museum exhibition and displayed on the Museum website and Flickr page.

Scenic landscapes exist in every corner of New York State and are often found on picture perfect postcards that read “wish you were here.” The State Museum’s exhibition, Wish You Were Here! New York State Photographed by You will open in the State Museum’s West Hall Corridor on September 3, featuring a selection of the best landscape photographs submitted by the 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. Photographs will still be accepted after September 3, since new ones will continually be added to both the gallery and website.

Wish You Were Here will complement another exhibition in the Museum’s adjacent West Gallery — Not Just Another Pretty Place: The Landscape of New York. Also opening on September 3, this will be the first exhibition of landscape art to be culled from the Museum’s vast collections.

Those wishing to submit photos for Wish You Were Here will find further information at www.nysm.nysed.gov/wishyouwerehere.

‘Baghdad ER’ Doc Coming to NYS Museum

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On July 1, the New York State Museum will present the Emmy award-winning HBO documentary “Baghdad ER,” followed by a reunion and discussion between the producer and the first wounded soldier to appear in the film.

Following the 6:30 p.m. film presentation, producer/director Matthew O’Neill will be reunited with Staff Sgt. Craig Macy from Buffalo, a New York National Guard Soldier who was wounded in Iraq in 2005. Macy will speak about his experiences as a wounded veteran, appearing in the documentary and his continuing membership in the National Guard.

The program is being held in conjunction with the new Museum exhibition “Citizen Soldier: New York’s National Guard in the American Century,” open in Exhibition Hall through March 2011.

When it was released in 2006, “Baghdad ER” was the most honored documentary of the year, winning four Emmy Awards for its “unflinching” look at the cost of war. It also won a Peabody Award, the Overseas Press Club Award and the Alfred I. duPont Columbia Award. The groundbreaking documentary chronicles the day-to-day lives of doctors, nurses, medics, soldiers and chaplains in the Army’s premier medical facility in the combat zone. O’Neill and producer Jon Alpert were given unprecedented access to the Army’s 86th Combat Support Hospital during a two-month period in 2005.

The film captures the experiences of the military medical professionals as they work to save lives from their trauma center in the middle of war-ravaged Iraq. The film is not suitable for children. It includes graphic scenes that are at times disturbing and when the film first came out, the Army was concerned about the emotional impact it might have on troops and military families. Instead, the film became almost required viewing for all members of the military medical community and went on to receive critical acclaim from both inside and outside the U.S. military.

Macy was serving with the National Guard’s 1st Battalion 69th Infantry in Iraq in 2005 when he was struck by a sniper as he was handing out candy to Iraqi children. Thanks to his comrades who rushed to his aid, and the expert medical care he received at the trauma center, Macy survived his ordeal, recovered and returned to duty with the National Guard. He volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan in 2008 with nearly 1700 New York National Guard troops. While still a member of the National Guard, Macy is now a police officer with the City of Buffalo. He recently became a new father and has named his son after one of the soldiers who pulled him to safety in 2005.

This program is the first in a series of special programs that the State Museum is hosting in conjunction with the “Citizen Soldier” exhibition. The 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 National Guard 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.

Soap Box Derby Exhibit Opens at NYS Museum

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Seventy years after the debut of Albany’s first Soap Box Derby, the New York State Museum will mark the occasion with the opening of a small exhibition on the Derby June 8, followed by an awards ceremony at the Museum in conjunction with this year’s Albany competition. “Derby Doings: The All-American Soap Box Derby,” will be open in the Museum lobby until August 15.

The annual Capital District Soap Box Derby competition will be held in front of the State Museum on Madison Avenue on Saturday, June 12th and Sunday, June 13th. The awards ceremony in the Museum’s Huxley Theater will immediately follow Sunday’s races at approximately 5 p.m. The winners in three divisions will advance, all expenses paid, to the World Championships in Akron, Ohio later in July.

The exhibition traces the history of the Derby to the summer of 1933 when Dayton, Ohio Daily News photographer Myron Scott saw three boys racing down the hill and proposed what he expected would be a one-time competition. Nineteen children showed up and Scott was compelled to arrange for another competition on August 19, 1933. Intensely publicized, the event attracted 362 contestants and about 40,000 spectators.

The first national championship which Scott called the All-American Soap Box Derby was launched the following year with promotional and financial support from newspapers, magazines and Chevrolet. In 1935, the Derby relocated to Akron, Ohio.

Albany’s first competition dates to 1940 when 15,000 people watched 100 boys compete in the first races on Clermont Avenue. The Derby was locally sponsored and promoted chiefly by Chevrolet automobile dealers and the Albany Times Union. Ongoing support from both allowed such large events to continue through the 1940s. The Derby was televised by WRGB in 1949. Racing continued off and on at various locations, with different sponsors, until it ceased in the 1970s.

However, the Albany Derby was revived in 2006, managed by Ginger Miller. Boys and girls, ages 8-18, are now invited to participate.

The Derby was also held in Schenectady at one time. Richard Russell built two cars – one in 1948 and the other in 1949 — for the annual races on Fehr Avenue in Schenectady. He constructed both of his cars in a building at the Mattice service station and Mattice Fuel Oil service facility at 1025 Altamont Ave. in Schenectady, a business dating from the 1920s. It is still operated by the Russell family, including Richard Russell and his son, Richard Russell Jr., who donated the Russell car to the State Museum in 1995.

The 1949 Russell car will be on display in the exhibition, along with a contemporary Super Stock model built by Michael Morawski in 2007. He won with it on Madison Avenue in 2008 and went on to compete in Akron later that summer. Visitors can also see a helmet worn by Russell at the Schenectady races in 1948 and 1949, a trophy won by Donald Matthews in the Albany derby in July 1941, and several photographs that appeared in the Times Union and Daily Gazette in Schenectady.

Photo: Richard Russell in his car that is on display in the New York State Museum exhibition “Derby Doings: The All-American Soap Box Derby.” This photograph was used in a Mattice ad which appeared in the Schenectady Gazette on July 30, 1949. (Courtesy of NYS Museum)

New Netherland Event:From Vrienden to Wilden (Friends to Savages)

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When the Dutch settlers came to New Netherland in the 1600s, the Native Americans they met were their “vrienden.” After a while, the Indians were called “wilden.” How did the friends turn from friends to savages?

Stephen T. Staggs, a doctoral candidate in history at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Mich., has been studying just that question. He will talk about “From Vrienden to Wilden (Friends to Savages)” at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the New Netherland Institute (NNI) Saturday, May 15, at 12 noon at the University Club, 141 Washington Ave., Albany.

Registration for the meeting is open to the public. The cost of the lunch is $22, payable by mail or at the NNI website at nnp.org. Details of the meeting are available at http://www.nnp.org or by calling the NNI office in the Cultural Education Center, .

Staggs has studied the effect of the Dutch Calvinist concepts on relations between the Dutch settlers and the Indians, analyzing the terminology the provincial secretaries and directors of the colony chose to describe their Indian neighbors.

His studies at the New York State Archives were supported by the Doris Quinn-Archives Research Grant, awarded by the NNI and the archives to facilitate research on New Netherland and the Dutch Colonial Atlantic World. He was recently awarded the New York 400 Fulbright Grant for the 2010-2011 academic year to complete the research phase of his project.

Membership in the NNI does not require Dutch ancestry. It is open to anyone with an interest in the history of New Netherland, a 17th-century territory bordered on the north by Fort Orange, now Albany. Included within its boundaries was much of the present states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and western Connecticut.

The NNI was formed as the support organization of the New Netherland Project (NNP), located at the New York State Library in Albany. The mission of the NNP is to transcribe, translate and publish some 12,000 pages of correspondence, court cases, legal contracts and reports from the period 1636 to 1674.

Now the NNP is to be the heart of the New Netherland Research Center (NNRC), a part of the New York State Library. The center has been initiated with a grant of €200,000 brought to Albany by Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima in September. The NNI has the responsibility of administering the grant and raising matching funds.

At the meeting, Charles T. Gehring, director of the new research center and the translation project, will give a report describing his vision for the NNRC as well as the progress of work on the Dutch colonial documents.

James Sefcik, associate for Development and Special Projects, will give an update on the progress of the NNRC, now in its formative stages.

Throughout the year, the NNI carries on a program of activities to enhance awareness of the Dutch history of colonial America. In addition to the annual meeting, the institute sponsors an annual New Netherland Seminar, formerly called the Rensselaerswijck Seminar. This year’s seminar will be Saturday, Sept. 25.

The NNI administers a number of awards.

• The Doris Quinn-Archives Research Residency Program, of which Stephen Staggs is the 2009 recipient, grants $2,500. An equal amount is given for the Quinn-Library Research Residency.

• The Hendricks Manuscript Award of $5,000, endowed by Dr. Andrew A. Hendricks, is given for a book-length manuscript relating to the Dutch colonial experience in North America.

• The Alice P. Kenney Memorial Award is for an individual or group that has made a significant contribution to colonial Dutch studies and understanding of the Dutch colonial experience in North America.

• The Howard G. Hageman Citation honors Dr. Howard G. Hageman, a founder of the Friends of the New Netherland Project, now the New Netherland Institute, and its first president from 1986 until his death in 1992.

Details about the institute and the awards are also available at the NNI website, nnp.org.

NYS Museum: Women’s History Exhibit During March

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In celebration of Women’s History Month, the New York State Museum will open a small exhibition March 1 featuring artifacts and images from the woman’s suffrage movement of the early 20th century. “Women Who Rocked the Vote” will be open through March in the Museum’s front lobby window.

The exhibition chronicles the history of the suffrage movement, which was officially launched when Elizabeth Cady Stanton added the demand for equal suffrage to the Declaration of Sentiments at the first woman’s rights convention in Seneca Falls that she helped organize. Modeled on the Declaration of Independence, the declaration condemned male tyranny. It also claimed for women “all the rights and privileges” of citizenship. News of the convention sparked controversy and helped ignite a national movement.

The centerpiece of the exhibition is a large wooden wagon that was once covered in suffrage banners and hand-painted signs as suffrage activists used the wagon as both a prop and a speaker’s platform. There also are historic images and a large painted banner carried in a massive suffrage parade up Fifth Avenue in New York City. The parade came just 10 days before the November 1917 election which gave women the right to vote in New York State. Two years later the state ratified the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibited sex-based restrictions on the right to vote.

The New York State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Founded in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the U.S. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open daily 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: Suffrage Parade, NYC 1912

NYS Museum To Close March 6th and 13th

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The New York State Museum will be closed to the public on two consecutive Saturdays in March — March 6 and 13 — to allow for testing of the emergency power system in the Cultural Education Center building. The Museum will reopen with normal operating hours on the Sundays following the closings, March 7 and March 14 at 9:30 a.m.

The New York State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, it 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 can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

State Museum Showing Major Stoneware Exhibit

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“It’s a prime example of American folk art, probably one of the best collections of decorated stoneware in the country,” is how John Scherer, Historian Emeritus of the New York State Museum characterized the Weitsman Stoneware Collection. The over 200-piece collection was donated to the museum by Adam J. Weitsman, one of the leading collectors of 18th and 19th Century stoneware.

Forty unique vessels from the collection titled Art for the People: Decorated Stoneware from the Weitsman Collection are currently on exhibit at the Albany museum’s New York Metropolis Gallery. The show was recently extended due to popular demand through the summer of 2010. “We are delighted with this collection. It attracts a lot of visitors to the museum. They are very, very impressed and almost overwhelmed by the quality of the collection,” said Scherer.

The exhibition features decorated stoneware vessels, including jugs, crocks, pitchers, jars and water coolers. The designs are considered premier examples of American folk art. Most were created in New York State and many are “presentation pieces,” oversized and often richly decorated with cobalt blue designs and folk art illustrations. Decoration tools, early pottery related graphics and photography complement the exhibit.

After the exhibition, it will become a permanent part of the New York State Museum. The collection is also the subject of a color, coffee-table format book being published by the museum that will be released this spring. The book is being funded by the generosity of Mr. Weitsman.

“We had a few important pieces of stoneware, but nowhere near the quality that Adam donated. The Weitsman Collection is supreme,” said Scherer.

Adam Weitsman collected his first piece of stoneware in 1980 at age 11 and the experience sparked his passion for the genre. Since then he acquired rare pieces at antique shows, estate sales and auctions. One example was a water cooler decorated with a portrait of a Civil War general and his wife. He purchased it at auction for $88,000 which set a record price for American stoneware at the time.

In 1996, Weitsman donated 100 pieces to the museum to ensure his collection would be preserved. From those and pieces acquired subsequently, 40 were carefully selected for the current exhibition. Most have never been publicly displayed.

Stoneware was vitally important to the development of New York State and its central role in western expansion of the country via the Hudson River, the Erie Canal and its network of feeder canals, and through the Great Lakes to the western river systems. Stoneware was in high demand for storage and preservation for things like drinking water, milk, butter, eggs, beer, ale, whisky, pickles and salted meat. Clay deposits ideal for making stoneware were found in what is now South Amboy, New Jersey, lower Manhattan and eastern Long Island. As a result, New York State became a large stoneware producer.

Potters sprang up along the Hudson River and throughout the New York State canal system making vessels of various shapes and sizes. During kiln firing, salt was applied to vessels that combined with clay silica to create a smooth, lustrous finish. Chocolate brown Albany Slip, named for where the clay was mined, was used to coat the insides of vessels. To identify or decorate the vessel, a painter applied a metallic oxide clay slip that turned a rich blue when fired. Sometimes manganese that turned purplish-brown was used. Simple identification included the makers’ mark and the vessel’s capacity. Elaborate designs and highly creative illustrations such as those found in the Weitsman Collection represent the sublime expression of this folk art period.

Historically significant of examples of stoneware from the Weitsman Collection include:

A Jar made by Paul Cushman of Albany in 1809–Weitsman acquired it from the personal collection of PBS’ Antique Road Show host Leigh Keno.

A Jug created by William Lundy & Co. of Troy, New York in the 1820s that depicts cobalt blue caricature of a merman, a male version of mermaid.

Crocks displaying a prancing zebra and a camel were inspired by the traveling circuses of the era.

A Jug displaying a fisherman with a pole on a lake signed Nathan Clark, Lyons, NY.

A Crock decorated with a Dutch or German-style church with a gambrel roof and round tower and a weather cock, signed W. A. Maquoid, Little West 12th Street, New York City.

A two-gallon crock made by Charles W. Braun of Buffalo around 1870 is decorated with what appears to be a caricature of Buffalo Bill.

A humorous long-necked gooney bird on a six-gallon water cooler made by M. Woodruff of Cortland, New York around 1860. It was acquired from the collection of Donald Shelley, former director of the Henry Ford Museum.

A highly decorated five-gallon water cooler came from the famous George S. McKearin Collection. It was created by Julius and Edward Norton of Bennington, Vermont and shows three types of decoration commonly associated with potters at Bennington, Troy and Fort Edward, New York.

One of the rarest is a six-gallon crock made by Nathan Clark & Co. of Rochester, New York in about 1845. Decorated with the mythical phoenix firebird, it was rendered in such detail that it has a three-dimensional quality.

“I emphasized to Adam how important his collection was and how important it is to New York State. He not only donated it, but also acquires new pieces every year to add to it which is wonderful for us,” Scherer concluded.

While not engaged in collecting stoneware and fine art, Mr. Weitsman is busy with his other passion as President of Upstate Shredding LLC. With numerous locations, Upstate is the largest privately owned metal processing and recycling operation on the East Coast.

Photo: Two-Gallon Jug, (c. 1815) by Israel Seymour (1784-1852) of Troy, New York. The finely incised figure of an American Indian decorates this early ovoid jug. He carries a sword in one hand and a banner with the letter T (for temperance) in the other. Some intricately decorated stoneware pieces commemorate special events and historical figures. The Indian is believed to be Handsome Lake (c. 1734-1815), the Seneca religious prophet who in 1799 began to tell his people to refrain from drinking and doing evil.

NYS Museum Exhibit: George Eastman House Photos

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“Seeing Ourselves: Masterpieces of American Photography from George Eastman House Collection” opens February 12 at the New York State Museum and will be on view through May 9 in the Museum’s West Gallery. The exhibit will introduce visitors to historical and contemporary photographic masterpieces. Proving the power of photography, more than 155 images and artifacts tell the story of America over the last 150 years.

The photographers range from professionals such as Lewis W. Hine, Dorothea Lange, Matthew Brady and many others, including several who are unidentified. The images capture America and Americans in various ages and stages. They depict grandeur and simplicity, joy and anger, beauty and grit. A limited number of brochures on the exhibition will be available at the gallery entrance.

The exhibition is drawn entirely from the collection of George Eastman House. It is arranged into five sections: “American Masterpieces,” “American Faces,” “America at War,” “America the Beautiful” and “American Families.” Each section addresses key photographic works documenting the American cultural experience.

The “American Masterpieces” section displays photographs that show outstanding artistry, skill or workmanship. They show that American masterpieces cover a broad spectrum of subject, format, and history. Some photographs began as intentional works of art while others began as something else – propaganda, information, aide memoire, or novelty — and only later achieved iconic status. This section will include “The Steerage” by Alfred Stieglitz, “Nautilus” by Edward Weston, and “Yosemite Valley, Summer” by Ansel Adams.

In the “American Faces” section visitors will see photographs of people that have been used to create celebrity, establish identity, and influence our perceptions. Photographers who have captured these American faces include Mathew Brady, Richard Avedon, Alfred Stieglitz, Dorothea Lange, Edward Steichen, Mary Ellen Mark, and Gordon Parks.

The “America at War” section reminds visitors that of all the information that photography brings us, little is more pressing than news about war. Since the beginning of photography, images have defined our understanding of conflict. Images will include “A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg” by Timothy O’Sullivan; David Douglas Duncan’s “Combat, Korea”; “Reaching Out, The DMZ” by Larry Burrows; and “Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC” by Hiroshi Watanabe.

Timeless photographs that exemplify the beauty and power of nature and an expanding America are included in the “America the Beautiful” section. On display will be William Henry Jackson’s “Mt Sopris, from Junction of Rock Creek,” “Refugio Beach” by Ansel Adams, “Dunes” by Edward Weston and “Desertscape, Death Valley” by Marilyn Bridges.

The “American Families” section explores the role photography can play in helping to put our own family experience into context and define “family” for ourselves. Included are “Tenement Penthouse” by Weegee, “Italian Family, Ellis Island” by Lewis Hine, “East Harlem” by Helen Levitt and “The Damm Family in Their Car” by Mary Ellen Mark.

Forty-minute Interpretive Tours of Seeing Ourselves, and an open discussion focusing on several photographs, will be held at 1 and 2 p.m. on February 13-14, 27-28, March 20-21, April 24-25 and May. 8-9.

A podcast is available at http://podcast.eastmanhouse.org/discussing-seeing-ourselves/.

Photo: Powerhouse Mechanic, 1920, by Lewis W. Hine. Courtesy George Eastman House.

Birds of New York Opens At New York State Museum

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Birds of New York and the Paintings of Louis Agassiz Fuertes opened at the New York State Museum on Saturday, showcasing the original watercolors painted a century ago by one of America’s foremost science artists. The exhibition, in the Museum’s Crossroads Gallery, will run through September 6th. It will feature 40 of more than 100 paintings that Fuertes created to illustrate Birds of New York, a monumental book that combined beautiful art and scientific scholarship. The first edition of the book will be on display, along with a print portfolio and specimens from the Museum’s ornithology collection.

The first volume of Birds of New York – Water Birds and Game Birds – was published to much acclaim in 1910. Volume Two – Land Birds – followed four years later. Birds of New York was collaboration between Fuertes and author Elon Howard Eaton and served as a model for ornithology books that followed. Fuertes’ watercolors celebrated the beauty of wild birds, while Eaton advocated for the stewardship and conservation of birds and their habitats. Produced by the State Museum and published by the University of the State of New York, the book inspired the citizens of New York to observe and care for the state’s birds.

The book was commissioned by former State Museum Director John Mason Clarke, who served from 1904 to 1925. When he began his tenure it had been 60 years since the last book on the state’s birds had been published, and he wanted a new study that would update scientific knowledge. He commissioned Eaton, a biology teacher in Rochester, to research and write the book. Eaton enlisted Fuertes, a famous bird artist from Ithaca, to provide the illustrations.

Clarke’s written correspondence with Eaton and Fuertes, preserved in the New York State Archives, reveals that Clarke was a guiding force in producing the book, sometimes attending to even small details.

Named for the naturalist Louis Agassiz, Fuertes’ interest in the natural world was encouraged and he began to draw birds at an early age. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca. While still a student, Fuertes met a prominent Smithsonian ornithologist who recognized and promoted his artistic talent. This helped launch an active career and, soon, he was considered to be the leading bird artist of his day.

Just as John James Audubon inspired bird painters in the early 1800s, Fuertes influenced artists a century later by skillfully capturing the lifelike poses and natural settings of birds. Roger Tory Peterson, an avian artist and author of well-known field guides, wrote that while Audubon was famous for his dramatic compositions Fuertes “caught more of the character of the bird itself.”

Eaton also was a lifelong student of natural history. As a young man he prepared bird mounts and studied skins after enrolling in a taxidermy course. He established the Department of Biology at Hobart College in Geneva, where he taught from 1908 until his death in 1934. In 1901 he became known statewide when the Rochester Academy of Science published a paper he had written on the birds of western New York.

The lasting scientific importance of Birds of New York stems from Eaton’s authoritative compilation of original research that is included in the book, such as distribution maps, migration surveys and detailed observations of nests, eggs, songs and behaviors. The book continues to be cited by ornithologists studying changes in bird abundance and distribution since that time.

It also has strengthened interest in the study and protection of birds, and spurred the formation of local birding clubs and bird sanctuaries. Sixteen thousand copies of a print portfolio, including all of the color illustrations in the book, were widely distributed and inspired “Bird Day” celebrations across the state.

The State Museum will sponsor a free program in connection with the exhibition. Creative Art Day will be held Sunday, March 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. Families will be invited to participate in artful activities based on the exhibition. More information is available by calling 518-473-7154 or e-mailing psteinba@mail.nysed.gov.

The Birds of New York book is available online through the New York State Library’s digital collections at http://www.nysl.nysed.gov. A video tour of the Museum’s biology range, that includes its bird collection, is available at http://www.youtube.com/nysmuseum.

The New York State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Founded in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the U.S. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open daily 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.

Hudson Valley History Day This Saturday

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Representatives from 15 historic sites and cultural institutions will engage visitors in fun, educational activities January 16 during Hudson Valley History Day at the New York State Museum. The free event will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is the highlight of Family Fun Weekend, January 16-17. The snow date will be Saturday, January 23. Activities will be held throughout the Museum’s first floor.

Participants include the State Museum, New York State Library, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt-Springwood, Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site, Olana State Historic Site, Hudson River Heritage Organization/Montgomery Place, Albany Heritage Area Visitor Center and Henry Hudson Planetarium, Thomas Cole National Historic Site/Cedar Grove, Clermont State Historic Site, Shaker Heritage Society, Albany County Historical Society/Ten Broeck Mansion, Albany Institute of History and Art, Historic Cherry Hill and Crailo State Historic Site.

Visitors will be able to play the Hudson River Valley Trading Game on a 32-foot long game board at the Historic Cherry Hill table; sketch, write poetry and add to a community landscape at the Thomas Cole table; try weaving and grinding peppermint at the Shaker Society table; design their own stained glass at the Museum table; meet the life-sized Henry Hudson puppet at the Albany Heritage Area Visitor Center table and see historic documents, photographs and other objects at the other locations.

Jeffrey Urbin from the Roosevelt site will offer a lecture at 1:30 p.m. in the Huxley Theater on “How to Prepare Family Archives and a Time Capsule.” At 11 a.m. and noon, he also will provide tours of the This Great Nation Will Endure, an exhibition designed and curated by staff from the FDR site. The exhibition showcases the works of a legendary group of photographers who documented the lives and struggles of Americans enduring the Great Depression.

Tours will also be offered at 1 and 2:30 p.m. of the 1609 exhibition. Michelle Stefanik, a senior exhibition planner at the State Museum, will share information about Henry Hudson and his crew’s exploration of the Hudson River 400 years ago. She also will discuss the Mohican and Native Peoples who were living along the shores, as well as their relationships with the Dutch settlers.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m., visitors will also be able to touch bear fur, try on a cradleboard and learn more about the Haudenosaunee at the hands-on Native Peoples cart, presented by Nancy Berns, a member of the State Museum’s Visitors Services staff.

On Sunday from 1-4 p.m., as part of Family Fun Weekend, the Museum will offer the same stained glass activity as the one on Saturday.

Family Fun Weekends offer theme-based family activities on the third weekend of the month.

The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Started in 1836, the Museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the United States. 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 can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the Museum website at .

NYS Museum Chocolate Expo, Holiday Gift Market

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Shoppers can sample chocolate treats, listen to holiday carolers and purchase hand-crafted gifts from more than 40 vendors at the New York State Museum’s fourth annual Chocolate Expo & Holiday Gift Market on Sunday, December 6.

The Expo, from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., will offer samples and sales of chocolates, desserts, wines and specialty foods. Vendors from New York State and New England will also sell a variety of hand-crafted jewelry, glassware, ornaments, handmade bath and skincare products, clothing and accessories.

There also will be two chocolate fountains stations, free to all visitors, compliments of Price Chopper, presenting sponsor, and We Do Fondue. From 1:15 until 2:30 p.m., Vocal Point, South Glens Falls High School’s premier choral ensemble, will perform a wide variety of holiday music, representing various traditions, beliefs and cultures from around the world. The school’s flute choir will also perform from 2:30-3 p.m.

As a special promotion, visitors who purchase a State Museum membership will be eligible to win a gift basket full of products from Expo vendors. Many products offered at the Chocolate Expo are made using fresh, locally produced ingredients. Products will include organic and hand-dipped chocolates, chocolate fudge, candy, and several varieties of truffles, including vegan. Specialty foods and beverages will include homemade gourmet sauces, pesto, and wines “with an attitude.”

Other gift items will include chemical-free soaps, hand creams and bath products; handmade jewelry and Italian glass beads; hand-swirled glassware; hand-painted Christmas ornaments and children’s clothing; hand-knit sweaters and accessories, including scarves, hats and mittens made from hand-spun llama yarn.

Easier Access to Old New York State Museum Publications

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The New York State Library has a new web page that highlights and links to New York State Museum publications that have been digitized by the Library. These publications include links to the Museum Memoirs and Handbooks series, which have been recently scanned from print copies in the Library’s collection.

To make it easier to find the digital copy of a specific Bulletin, Memoir or Handbook, the titles in each series are listed in tables which can be sorted in several ways, including by by Memoir, Bulletin or Handbook number; title of the publication; author; date; or general subject (anthropology, biology, geology, history, and paleontology). You can also click on any of the thumbnail images, taken from several of the Museum publications, to get a full view of that image, along with information about it.

Mastodon Tusk May Be Largest Ever Uncovered in NYS

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Research under way at the New York State Museum indicates that a huge mastodon tusk, recently excavated by Museum scientists in Orange County, may be the largest tusk ever found in New York State. The nearly complete but fragmented tusk, measuring more than nine feet long, was one of two excavated this past summer in the Black Dirt area of Orange County at the confluence of Tunkamoose Creek and the Wallkill River, on the property of Lester Lain of Westtown. Museum scientists believe that the other less complete tusk, about 5-6 feet long, came from the same mastodon, which has been named the Tunkamoose mastodon.

Glen Keeton of Mount Hope, N.Y. and Chris Connallon of Hampton, N.J. came across the tusks in November 2008 as they were canoeing down the Wallkill River. Keeton contacted the Orange County chapter of the New York State Archeological Association, which then contacted the State Museum. Weather conditions delayed the excavation until this past

Since then, Dr. Robert Feranec, the Museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology, has been researching other mastodon excavations in New York State. Feranec believes that the Warren Mastodon tusk, which is 8 feet, 8 inches long, is the longest one uncovered to date. It was discovered in New York State in the 1800s and is on exhibit at the
American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The tusk of the Cohoes Mastodon, on display at the State Museum, is about 4-5 feet long.

Based on the age of similar fossils, Feranec suspects that the tusks are about 13,000 years old. However, carbon dating results to determine the exact age, will not be available until later this year. In the meantime, the tusks have been taken apart to be cleaned and conserved for their long-term survival. It is hoped that eventually the tusks can be made available for scientific research and exhibits at the State
Museum and at a museum in the area where the tusks were found.

Abundant mastodon fossils have been found in Orange County, especially in the rich Black Dirt area which Keeton calls “a gold mine for these fossils.” Other fossils have also been found including those of giant beavers, stag moose, ground sloths, peccaries and reindeer. Several Museum scientists will be involved in an integrative research
project in the Black Dirt area where they will investigate the ancient environment in which the mastodon lived, as well as how that environment changed over the last 13,000 years.

“From my perspective, this is a significant find,” said Feranec. “These fossils will tell us more about the ancient history of New York. We hope to be able to reconstruct the environment in which the mastodon lived, as well as to try to understand why they went extinct.”

In 2007, Feranec oversaw the relocation of the Cohoes Mastodon from the State Museum lobby window to its new location in the Museum’s Exhibition Hall, where temperature and humidity levels are more stable and more conducive to the skeleton’s long-term preservation. The iconic Museum treasure is now the centerpiece of an expanded exhibition.

Discovered in 1866 near Cohoes Falls, the Mastodon once stood about 8 ½ feet tall, was about 15 feet long, and weighed between 8-10,000 pounds. Its tusk weighs 50 pounds.

Photo: During the excavation process in Orange County, Dr. Robert Feranec, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the New York State Museum, poses next to part of the tusk of a mastodon. (Photo courtesy of NYS Museum)

NYS Museum Photo Exhibit On Great Depression

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A new traveling exhibition opens at the New York State Museum on October 17 showcasing the works of a legendary group of photographers who documented the lives and struggles of Americans enduring the Great Depression. “This Great Nation Will Endure,” open through March 14, 2010, features more than 150 images of America taken between 1935 and 1942 by the legendary photographic unit of the Farm Security Administration (FSA). This remains the largest documentary photography project ever undertaken. The photographs include some of the most familiar and powerful images of the nation to emerge from the Depression era. Many have reached iconic status in American culture.

Curated and designed by staff at the Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Library and Museum in Hyde Park, the exhibition features images from every region of the nation, culled from the enormous FSA photography collection (numbering tens of thousands of images) at the Library of Congress. Included are photographs taken during the 1930s and
1940s by Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Ben Shahn, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein, Carl Mydans, Russell Lee, John Vachon, Marion Post Wolcott and Jack Delano.

The FSA was a New Deal agency created by President Roosevelt in 1937 to help American farmers and farm laborers who were confronting economic depression and natural disaster, including the ecological disaster known as the Dust Bowl. It developed out of an earlier agency called the Resettlement Administration (RA) for which its director, Rexford Tugwell, had established a publicity department to document rural poverty and government efforts to alleviate it. That department included a photographic unit called the “Historical Section,” administrated by former Columbia University economics instructor, Roy Stryker. To accomplish the agency’s goals, Stryker enlisted a group of men and women who today comprise a virtual “Who’s Who” of 20th-century documentary photography. The RA and its “Historical Section” were merged into the newly created FSA in 1937. Many of its
photographers later forged careers that helped define photojournalism at magazines like Life and Look.

Most of the photographs in the exhibition depict rural life and hardships but they also include many images of town and city life. The FSA created a very diverse
record of American life during the 1930s and early 1940s, including images of hardship, endurance, hope, recovery, migration, recreation and community life. The photographs provide visual affirmation of President Roosevelt’s bold assertion in
his first inaugural address, delivered at the lowest point of the Great Depression: “This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper … the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

The exhibition also includes a specially commissioned, short documentary film that explores the work of four of the most prominent FSA photographers. There also is a soundtrack of folk music sung by migrant workers that was recorded in migrant worker camps in California in 1940-41. An interactive computer program allows visitors to explore entire series of images shot by FSA photographers during individual
photo assignments. Also featured is a short silent video that depicts the ways in which FSA photography was used in newspapers and magazines of the 1930s and 1940s.

Photo: Lower Manhattan seen from the S.S. Coamo leaving New York, by Jack Delano.Courtesy Library of Congress

NYS Museum Opens ‘1609’ Exhibit

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As part of the celebration of the 2009 Hudson-Champlain Quadricentennial celebration, the New York State Office of Cultural Education (OCE) will present at the New York State Museum the exhibition “1609,” which will re-examine Henry Hudson’s voyage, the myths that surround it, and explore the legacies of Hudson’s unexpected discovery. The State Museum, State Archives, State Library and State Office of Educational Broadcasting, which make up OCE, are collaborating on the “1609” exhibition. It opened yesterday, July 3, 2009, and will run until March 7, 2010 in the Museum’s Exhibition Hall.

The “1609” exhibition is presented in four parts. The first section focuses on what life was like for both the Dutch and Native Peoples of New York before 1609 and the events of that year. The visitor will then look at the myths that Hudson planned to come here, and that Native Americans greeted him and his crew with joy and awe. The exhibition will attempt to dispel those myths and explore with the visitor what is known about Hudson and the 1609 voyage and the Native American response. The third section confronts the myths relating to the short-term impact of the voyage – the consequences for the Dutch and the Native Americans. Finally, the visitor will be able to examine the long-term legacy of the Native Americans and Dutch, and how they affected subsequent historical events and American culture today.

Highlighting the important role that the Hudson River played in Hudson’s discovery and in the everyday lives of the Native Americans he encountered, visitors entering the gallery will see the illusion of running water. An outline of the Halve Maen (Half Moon) that carried Hudson to the new world, and fast facts about the ship, will be stenciled onto the gallery floor. The exhibition will also feature many historic drawings, maps and paintings, including some by Capital District expert historical artist L.F. Tantillo.

There will be many touchable objects and a reading area to engage the youngest visitors. Artifacts on display will include an elaborately decorated c. 1700 “Armada Chest” or strongbox, a classic type of chest or portable safe similar to what Henry Hudson most likely had in his quarters on the Half Moon; a dugout canoe recovered from Glass Lake in Rensselaer County similar to those used by Native Americans in the 17th century; a bronze cannon cast for the Dutch West India Company (1604-1661) used at or near Fort Orange and a stained glass window bearing the Coat of Arms of “Jan Baptist van Renssilaer,” patron of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck in the 1650s. A large 1611 etching of the Port of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, courtesy of the Amsterdam Municipal Archives, also will hang in the gallery.

Many of the maps and other 17th-century Dutch colonial documents in the exhibition are from the collections of the New York State Library and the State Archives and will be located in a separate room where lighting is carefully controlled. The New Netherland Project, a program of the State Library, has been working since 1974 to translate and publish these archival records.

Archaeologist James Bradley, an expert on Native Americans, and Russell Shorto, an authority on colonial Dutch history, have written text for the exhibition. Bradley is the author of “Before Albany: An Archaeology of Native-Dutch Relations in the Capital Region 1600-1664,” and a guest curator for portions of the exhibition. Shorto, who resides in the Netherlands, authored “The Island at the Center of
the World,” the epic story of Dutch Manhattan and the forgotten colony that shaped America. Steven Comer, a Mohican Native American living within the original territory of the Mohican people, has provided cultural information and consulting for the project.

The Museum also is celebrating the Dutch influence on Albany and New York State with a trip to Holland and Belgium. This adventure will allow participants to experience these countries and appreciate their effect on Albany’s heritage and architecture. The trip is September 24 through October 1, 2009 and priced at $2,127 per person, double occupancy. Museum members receive a discount of $50. This trip includes a week-long stay in a four-star hotel located in the Hague, Holland’s government capitol. The price includes airfare, transfers, six nights accommodation, breakfast everyday except arrival, three dinners, private luxury coach, and local guides in Amsterdam, Bruges, and Delft. Also included are the entrance fees for windmills, a Delftware factory, New Church Delft, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, canal boat rides, and Aalsmeer Flower Auction. There is one free day with an optional trip to Paris, France. For more information or to register call Susan at (518) 862-1810 Monday through Friday.

The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Founded in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the U.S. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open daily from 9:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Further information can be obtained visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

CBS News To Feature New Netherland Project

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CBS News Sunday Morning will feature the New York State Library’s New Netherland Project as part of a story on the Quadricentennial of Hudson’s discovery of the river that bears his name on Sunday, July 5th. The segment will be aired between 9:00 and 10:30 a.m. and will feature an interview with New Netherland Project Director Dr. Charles Gehring.

One of the most unique history projects in America, the New Netherland Project provided the documentation and inspiration for Russell Shorto’s recent best seller, “The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America.”

A program of the New York State Library, the New Netherland Project has been working since 1974 to translate and publish the official 17th-century Dutch colonial documents of one of America’s earliest settled regions. Originally created under the sponsorship of the New York State Library and the Holland Society of New York, the New Netherland Project has been supported by the National Endowment for the
Humanities (NEH) and the New York State Office of Cultural Education. Translated documents and other work by the New Netherland Project can be accessed at www.nnp.org.

Also based on the work of the New Netherland Project, the exhibit “Light on New Netherland” is the first to introduce adults and children to the scope of the 17th century colony of New Netherland. Previously on view at the State Museum in Albany, the exhibit will tour the regions once encompassed by New Netherland, appearing at venues to include the GaGa Arts Center in West Haverstraw, New York; the Museum of
Connecticut History at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford; the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities in Cold Spring Harbor, New York; Federal Hall in Manhattan; and the FDR Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York.

The book “Explorers, Fortunes, and Love Letters: A Window on New Netherland” further explores the history of America’s earliest colony with a collection of twelve essays. Designed to appeal to a general audience and scholars alike, the book features an opening chapter by Russell Shorto, author of The Island at the Center of the World: the Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan & the Forgotten Colony that Shaped
America. The book was published by the New Netherland Institute, formerly Friends of New Netherland, and Mount Ida Press in April 2009. To purchase the book online or by check go to http://www.nnp.org/

3.1 Million For Historic Erie / Champlain Canal Tug Boat

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The New York State Museum has received a $3.1 million federal transportation grant to make mechanical upgrades to the Day Peckinpaugh, paving the way for the historic canal boat’s transformation into a permanent floating museum, dedicated to sharing the history and heritage of the state’s canal system.

As the first motorship of its kind specifically designed for the dimensions of the 20th-century Erie Barge Canal, and the last surviving vessel of its kind remaining afloat, the Peckinpaugh has become an iconic fixture on the state’s waterways. Built in 1921 in Duluth, Minnesota to carry grain from the Midwest to New York City, it was the harbinger for nearly a hundred other canal motorships that were seen everywhere on the waterway until 1950. In 1994, the Peckinpaugh made its final commercial voyage, with communities from Rome to Oswego turning out to wave goodbye.

Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Peckinpaugh was saved from the scrap heap in 2005 through the efforts of the New York State Museum, in partnership with the New York State (NYS) Canal Corporation; NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor Commission; the National Park Service and the Canal Society of New York State.

The Peckinpaugh is scheduled to have temporary exhibits installed for the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain quadricentennial celebration tour in August and September. This was organized by the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor, in conjunction with the State Museum, Saratoga National Historical Park and the New York State Canal Corporation. This new federal grant will provide funds for the rehabilitation work necessary before permanent exhibits can be installed and the Peckinpaugh is ready for continuous tours.

The grant was among more than $81 million in federal funding for 59 transportation projects across New York State, announced by Governor David Paterson. Funds will be allocated through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for Transportation Enhancement Program (TEP) projects. TEP finances transportation improvements with cultural, aesthetic, historical and environmental significance. It’s hoped the projects will make necessary improvements to local walkways, bicycle paths and other transportation routes while spurring economic development and job creation.

The value of a waterborne traveling exhibition, dedicated to sharing the history of the canal system, became apparent when more than a million visitors turned out to visit the 1976 Bicentennial Barge, which reached several dozen communities over a five-month journey. It is estimated that as much as 85 percent of the state’s population live in regions within a half-hour drive of the state’s waterway network.

The Peckinpaugh will follow a schedule of visits from New York City to Plattsburgh to Buffalo to Ithaca. When it is not touring during the navigation season it will be available for tours at the historic Matton Shipyard at Peebles Island State Park in Waterford. During the winter season it may also be open at its winter berth on the Waterford Flight.

Plans call for the Peckinpaugh’s permanent exhibitions to be installed and ready for visitors by summer 2010. The National Park Service will coordinate the development and operation of the exhibitions in the 130-foot long open cargo hold of the motorship, which at one time carried 160 tons of dry cement. While maintaining the Peckinpaugh’s industrial character, initial plans call for the creation of a gallery that is nearly as large as some gallery spaces in the State Museum. The gallery will be universally accessible and compliant with the American Disabilities Act..

This grant will help to mitigate a decade of neglect that left many of the boat’s mechanical systems in disrepair when it was largely abandoned in Erie, Pa. between 1995 and 2005. It follows a $290,000 grant in 2006 from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation’s Environmental Protection Fund that has been used to stabilize the Peckinpaugh. Additional work will include the replacement of fuel tanks, ballast piping and valves, the possible addition of a new ballast tank and the rebuilding of fresh water, sanitary and electrical systems. Plans also include some hull plate replacement, repair and painting.