Tag Archives: New York State Museum

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
summer.

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.

1609 Exhibit Will Look at Henry Hudson’s Voyage


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As part of the celebration of the 2009 Hudson-Champlain Quadricentennial the New York State Office of Cultural Education (OCE) will present 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 is scheduled to be open July 3, 2009 through March of 2010 in the New York State Museum’s Exhibition Hall.

Other quadricentennial events will include a two-month tour along the Hudson River and Champlain Canal, led by the New York State Museum’s historic Day Peckinpaugh, a 259-foot, 1921 canal boat. The Half Moon, historic barges and other large working boats will also participate in the tour in August and September 2009. It will stop at 15 ports from Burlington, Vt. to New York Harbor. Visitors will be able to step onboard to view exhibits on 400 years of maritime progress and advancement. The tour is 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.

The “1609” exhibition will be presented in four parts. The first section will focus 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 will confront 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.

In addition to artifacts from throughout OCE collections, “1609” will also feature paintings by Capital District expert historical artist L.F. Tantillo.

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.

To complement the exhibition, the Museum also will present a program, “The Stars of 1609” on Saturdays, May 2 and 30 and June 6 and 13 at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Participants will peer through the ages to see the night sky as it looked to Henry Hudson and his crew in 1609. There also will be a discussion about the navigational techniques of European explorers, their tools and equipment and 17th-century astronomy. The program is free but visitors must obtain tickets at the Museum’s front lobby desk.

The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Education Department. Founded in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the U.S. The State Museum is located on Madison Avenue in Albany. It 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.

New Netherland Exhibit Opens at NYS Museum


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A traveling exhibition about New Netherland — the 17th century Dutch province that stretched from modern-day Albany to parts of Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut – opens at the New York State Museum on December 12.

Light on New Netherland,” open through February 8 in the Museum’s Terrace Gallery, provides insight into the role the Dutch played in the settlement and development of colonial America. Based on original Dutch documents in the collections of the New York State Library and State Archives, the exhibition traces the history of the Dutch in New Netherland, beginning with Henry Hudson’s exploration in 1609.

It is curated by Robert E. Mulligan, retired history curator at the State Museum, and produced by the New Netherland Institute to celebrate the 2009 quadricentennial of the Hudson voyage. The Institute works to enhance awareness of the Dutch history of colonial America by supporting the translation and publication of early Dutch documents through the New Netherland Project, located in the State Library and also supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. 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 and longest-settled region.

The exhibition presents information about the fur trade that initially brought settlers to New Netherland, as well as the growth of farming and communities as families relocated there. It discusses the establishment of government, the practice of religion, and the interactions between settlers and native peoples, among other aspects of life in the colony.

Although New Netherland existed only from 1609 to 1664, when the colony was conquered by the English in a time of peace, the Dutch language, religion and culture could still be found in various pockets of the province well into the 19th century. The Dutch influence is still apparent in present-day American institutions and culture. Santa Claus and American Christmas traditions trace back to Sinterklaas or St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Holland and New Netherland. Former Presidents Martin Van Buren and Franklin Roosevelt, and modern-day celebrities Tom Brokaw, Bruce Springsteen and Meryl Streep, all share a Dutch heritage. The exhibition also notes that the tolerance the Dutch showed to neighbors and new settlers set the stage for the ethnic and cultural diversity for which New York and America have long been recognized.

Many of the illustrations in the exhibition are the work of Len Tantillo, the foremost artist in recreating historical images of New Netherland. He was the subject of a public television documentary entitled “Hudson River Journeys” in March 2004. In 2005, the American wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art commissioned him to create a painting for a permanent exhibition of Dutch architecture in colonial America.

“Illuminating New York’s Dutch Past,” a short video about the New Netherland Project, will be shown in the exhibition gallery. Nineteen volumes, or about 60 percent of the 12,000 volumes that survive, have been published to date under the direction of Dr. Charles Gehring, project director, and Dr. Janny Venema, associate director.

At the conclusion of the Museum exhibition, “Light on Netherland” is scheduled for various sites in New York State, as well as some in Connecticut, Delaware and Michigan.

New Rockwell Kent Exhibition at NYS Museum


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The next exhibition in the Great Art Series — Rockwell Kent: This is My Own – opens at the New York State Museum on November 22. On view through May 17, 2009 in the Museum’s West Gallery, the exhibition is the 20th installment of the Great Art Exhibition and Education Program, which brings works from New York State’s leading art museums and collections to the State Museum. This exhibition will feature works from the collection of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, State University of New York at Plattsburgh, the most complete and balanced collection of Kent’s work in the United States. The collection was established by a gift and bequest from Kent’s wife, Sally Kent Gorton. This exhibition is curated by Cecilia M. Esposito, director of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum.

“We at Plattsburgh, and I as a Regent, are delighted to share the life work of Rockwell Kent with visitors to the New York State Museum from across the state and the nation,” said James Dawson, member of the State Board of Regents. “This powerful and unique exhibition will give visitors an opportunity to engage with, and understand, the life and artistic contributions of Rockwell Kent to American art. As a faculty member at the State University of Plattsburgh, I have been familiar with the Kent Collection for decades. So, I am delighted to see that others in the state and nation will have this same profound opportunity to share in Kent’s incredible artistic talent.”

A critically acclaimed artist who provided the illustrations for such classics as “Moby Dick” and the “Canterbury Tales,” Kent succeeded in multiple endeavors during his lifetime. He was a painter, muralist, illustrator, printmaker, book designer, graphic artist, architect, builder, writer and editor, lecturer, navigator, world traveler and political and social activist.

Kent once said that “art is no more than the shadow cast by a man’s own stature.” This exhibition is unique in the breadth of materials on display, including hundreds of items that chronicle Kent’s life and work, reflecting remarkable personal experiences and a deep sense of moral and political principle. On display are paintings, drawings, prints, books, bookplates, photographs, dinnerware, advertising art and more. “Rockwell Kent,” a documentary produced by Frederick Lewis, and the book, “Rockwell Kent: The Art of the Bookplate” will be for sale in the Museum Shop.

Born in Tarrytown in 1882, Kent experienced a comfortable, upper middle-class lifestyle until the sudden death of his father in 1887. As a young boy he developed a resilience and remarkable work ethic that was evident in all of his future endeavors.

From 1900 through 1902, while studying architecture at Columbia University in New York City, Kent attended painter William Merritt Chase’s summer school for art at Shinnecock Hills, Long Island. He changed his studies to painting and continued classes with Chase in New York. He spent the summer of 1903 with artist Abbott H. Thayer in New Hampshire. Bolstered by the sale of two paintings he quit Columbia and enrolled in the New York School of Art, where he was instructed by Robert Henri, the leader of what is now known as the “Ashcan School.”

Kent achieved both critical and financial success as an artist during the 1920s and 1930s. He became well-known for his book illustrations, bookplates and commercial work. Private collectors and major museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, acquired his paintings and prints.

Between 1918 and 1935, Kent traveled to remote parts of the world, often staying for long periods of time to learn about the people who lived there and to express and record his experiences through his paintings and books.

In 1915, during World War I, he was ordered to leave Newfoundland over fears that he was a German spy. While in Newfoundland he painted one of his major works, “House of Dread.” In Alaska, as in other countries he visited, Kent demonstrated his building skills, renovating an abandoned goat shed and turning it into a comfortable home. “Wilderness: A Journal of Quiet Adventure in Alaska” chronicled his adventures there. He also traveled to Tierra del Fuego, where he wrote “Voyaging” about his dangerous travels through the most exposed islands of the archipelago. “N by E” was about another hair-raising adventure — an ill-fated cruise he took to Greenland in 1929. He returned to Greenland in 1931 where he wrote “Salamina,” named in honor of his housekeeper and mistress. Kent also designed dinnerware by the same name.

Kent purchased a dairy farm in the Adirondacks, outside of the village of Au Sable Forks, in 1927 and named it Asgaard, meaning “home of the gods.” It served as his retreat for the rest of his life. From 1912 to 1968, Kent practiced the time-honored art of the bookplate, creating more than 185 custom-designed bookplates in response to mail orders that came his way, including one for Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.. He also pursued wood engraving, a passion that rivaled his great love for painting.

Kent painted several major murals during the 1930s and 40s. His designs for the 1939 Christmas Seals campaign were used on billboards, stamps and posters. During this time, Kent also produced political art, becoming very active in social and political issues as a member of the Socialist Party he had joined in 1908. In 1953, he was summoned to appear before a subcommittee, chaired by U.S. Senator

Joseph McCarthy, to answer questions about his membership in the Communist Party. From 1957 to 1960, three major exhibitions of Kent’s work were held in the Soviet Union, and in 1960 he gave the country 80 canvases and 800 drawings and prints. He traveled to Moscow in 1967 to accept the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples.

One of Kent’s last lucrative commercial contracts was with General Electric (GE). His painting of a solitary farmhouse on a winter’s night was reproduced in GE’s 1946 calendar and proved so popular that he was asked to provide another for the following year. In January 1946, Kent walked a picket line at GE in Schenectady at the request of the striking workers there. GE officials were not pleased and tried to cancel Kent’s contract but reneged after he threatened a lawsuit.

Kent died at the age of 88 and is buried at Asgaard. His gravestone bears the title of his first autobiography “This is My Own,” a line taken from “Native Land,” a poem by Walter Scott.

On February 14, from 1 to 3 p.m., the Museum will sponsor “ARTventures,” a program planned to complement the Kent exhibition. During a hands-on, art-making experience with instructor Peggy Steinbach, participants will visit the exhibition and then create their own interpretations in paint. Pre-registration is suggested. Call 518-473-7154 or e-mail psteinba@mail.nysed.gov. The program is limited to 15 participants. It is free for Museum members and $5 for non-members.

The New York State Museum expresses its gratitude to Bank of America, the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly for making the Kent exhibition possible. Additional support is provided by The Times Union, WRGB (CBS 6) and Potratz Partners Advertising.

The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Education Department. 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 www.nysm.nysed.gov.