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Read original articles written by MANY's staff about Resources, Community, and Exhibits/Collections. Check out the Letters From Erika to learn about what is going on here at MANY!

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  • August 28, 2018 2:50 PM | Anonymous

    As fall begins, the MANY staff and board know we will be seeing colleagues in September in Catskill, Canandaigua, Fort Ticonderoga and in Cooperstown for 2019 conference planning. But there are so many opportunities for museum professionals in October, it could be renamed “Continuing Education Month” and we could start a new tradition with all of the choices of places and ways to learn.

    I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said that all of the museum professionals I know enjoy learning. We devour texts, track down clues to unlock mysteries, and joyfully attempt to decode beauty in nature, art, and material culture. Learning from peers in small group settings may be my favorite way to learn.

    I’ll start the month of October at the Long Island Museum Association’s Roundtable at the Long Island Children’s Museum on the first. On the 4th, I’ll be at the Edward Hopper House Museum and Study Center in Nyack at MANY’s Mid Hudson Meet-Up at the Hopper House.

    On the 10th in Syracuse, I will participate in the “How to Facilitate Community Conversations with Humanities New York” workshop at the Erie Canal Museum, tour the museum, and welcome colleagues for our Central Region Meet-Up.

    Coming from the education and development side of museums, my most recent learning has been in exhibition and facilities design. I am beyond excited for our behind-the-scenes tour at Hadley Exhibits on October 11th in Buffalo. I hope that you can join us there for our tour, Meet-Up, and special workshop, “How to Write Labels Your Visitors Will Want to Read,” led by Erin Doane, Curator at the Chemung County Historical Society.

    Growing up on Manhattan Island with the East River outside my window, I learned at an early age that water both connects and separates us — we crossed New York Harbor on bridges, through tunnels, and stood at the back of the Staten Island Ferry, watching the skyline fade. At the New York State Canal Conference October 14-16 on Staten Island, participants will celebrate the role that New York Harbor has played in the success of the State’s historic inland waterway system.

    On Tuesday, October 16, we will continue our waterfront celebrations at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s new DUMBO location with a Humanities New York workshop, a tour, and a Meet-Up with the Brooklyn Bridge acting as a backdrop to frame our conversation.

    From the 140th annual meeting of the American Folklore Society in Buffalo, to the Re-Visioning Change workshops in the Southern Tier and Capital Regions where the most highly rated presenters from our annual conference will reprise their presentations and interactive programs for colleagues who couldn’t make it to Rochester, MANY will be present all season to help shape the future of our profession.

    I’d love to hear from you if you will be learning alongside me this October! Send me an email and let me know where I might find you in the next chair or gallery.

    Safe travels,

  • August 28, 2018 2:48 PM | Anonymous

    “Brooklyn is incredible, Brooklyn is an adjective,” says Marcia Ely, Vice President of Programs and External Affairs of the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS).

    And she’s right. With a new location in the famous DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighborhood, an exciting permanent exhibition celebrating all things Brooklyn and water, and big plans for the future, the Brooklyn Historical Society is ready to amplify the already elevated stature of one of New York City’s five boroughs.

    “We’re at a really exciting phase in our history,” Ely says. The Brooklyn Historical Society has been an institution of Brooklyn for 155 years. Founded in 1863 in the middle of the Civil War by prominent Brooklyn residents as a collecting institution, BHS (then called the Long Island Historical Society) has grown and evolved into a thriving urban history center that brings Brooklynites and visitors alike together to learn and celebrate the rich and unique history of New York City’s largest borough.

    Throughout its history, BHS has borne witness to the ever-changing landscape of Brooklyn, from its tremendous growth as a rural center to one of the most well-known cities in the United States. In 1881, the Society opened their landmark location at 128 Pierrepont Street, a Queen-Anne style building designed by renowned architect George Browne Post, where they’ve resided ever since.

    But in 2017, BHS decided it was time to continue their growth in new ways, opening a second location in the Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO.

    “One of the really interesting things about the DUMBO location is where it’s housed,” Ely says. BHS DUMBO is nested in the newly renovated Empire Stores, an historic warehouse that brings back memories of Brooklyn’s historical nickname as the “Walled City,” because of the brick warehouses that lined the city’s coastline. Empire Stores is one of the last remaining 19th-century warehouses in Brooklyn that retains its original features. At a time when Brooklyn was one of the largest commercial waterfronts in the world, the warehouse was home to “countless tons of coffee, sugar, jute, animal hides, and many other commodities,” according the BHS website.

    The BHS is the only cultural institution in the Empire Stores, which is otherwise home to office space, restaurants, and stores. “For us, having this second space has been really transformative, because it’s very different foot traffic, it’s a very different audience that you capture down there in DUMBO,” Ely says. “There’s a really beautiful balance and comparison between our main site, which is in Brooklyn Heights but on a fairly quiet, residential street, and the hubbub and vibrancy of DUMBO,” she says. “It’s been a huge, wonderful journey for us.”

    And now, after the DUMBO location’s inaugural exhibition of Brooklyn Waterfront photography closed in January, BHS is continuing their mission of celebrating and exploring Brooklyn’s history with their new long-term exhibition, “Waterfront.”

    “Waterfront,” which Ely says is a very ambitious long-term exhibition, is the first major exhibition specifically dedicated to telling the history of Brooklyn’s coastline. The exhibition and multimedia experience opened in January of this year, and so far, she says, people love it. The exhibit space isn’t large – in fact, BHS DUMBO itself only takes up 3,200 square feet of space in the Empire Stores – but its multiple levels expand its potential far beyond that of physical space. “It has lots of nooks and crannies,” Ely says.

    Take, for example, the exhibition’s two digital installations: “At Waters Edge,” an eight-minute multimedia experience and video that tells the history of Brooklyn’s waterfront, starting over 20,000 years ago with the glacier that formed the Brooklyn coastline; and “History in Motion,” an interactive video that lets visitors insert themselves into Brooklyn’s past using Kinect technology.

    “I think one of the nice things about this exhibit is that you can literally spend 20 minutes or you can spend three hours here,” Ely says. Whether visitors want to explore an installation of archaeological artifacts that were excavated from the landfill underneath Empire Stores in the 1970’s, or listen to the BHS’s impressive collection of oral histories from “Brooklynites of all kinds,”that won a 2018 MANY Award of Merit for Innovation in Collection Access, or even play with the Waterfront Neighborhoods Magnet Wall, a kid- and adult-friendly ten-foot magnetized landscape that invites visitors to reimagine the coastline, there is truly something for everyone in DUMBO.

    “We want to be the place that people come first to understand a little bit of background on Brooklyn before they go off and explore the rest of the borough,” Ely says. “We want to tell the history of Brooklyn that’s being made right now, as well as tell the stories that have been forgotten.”

    The Brooklyn Historical Society: DUMBO will also be hosting the Museum Association of New York’s seventh Meet-Up of the fall on October 16, 2018. Registration is open here.

    Words by Sarah Heikkinen. Photos courtesy of the Brooklyn Historical Society.

  • August 28, 2018 2:45 PM | Anonymous

    Everybody feels welcome at a zoo. Whether you’re a young child seeing an elephant for the first time, an animal lover hoping to get more involved in your community’s conservancy efforts, or a group of friends looking for a fun thing to do on a summer weekend, zoos are universal.

    At the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester, NY, new steps are being taken to broaden their audience and engage their community, all while promoting the idea that everyone, humans and animals alike, will always be welcome inside.

    “Everybody can play a role in making a difference in saving animals from extinction,” says Pamela Reed Sanchez, President and CEO of the Zoo. “We can all be conservationists, we can all be environmentalists.” This message of inclusivity is what has propelled the Zoo forward into a brand-new chapter since 2016, with a complete overhaul and transformation of the Zoo’s brand and an exciting capital campaign that will fund a long-awaited expansion.

    But, Reed Sanchez says, none of these new developments at the Rochester-based zoo would be possible without the support of their community. “You have to have a wide swath of the community aware of what you’re doing and in support of what you’re doing if you’re going to be successful in a campaign,” she says. When Reed Sanchez stepped into the role of President and CEO of the Zoo four years ago, she brought with her over 20 years of experience in arts and cultural development and strategic management, along with a background in environmental and technology policy. This experience, she says, has helped her inform what the Zoo does and how they can effectively communicate their vision and mission to the Rochester community.

    When Reed Sanchez started her new position, she says one of the first things she did was meet with local community leaders, asking them all the same question: What do you think the brand of the zoo is, and what do you think the zoo’s role is in the community? The responses were overwhelmingly similar, and not entirely unsurprising.

    “We had a very strong brand as a great place to take little kids on a sunny day,” she says. “We weren’t reaching intergenerational audiences. We weren’t reaching teenagers, let alone millennials, and people were not viewing the zoo as a conservation organization.”

    In 2016, the Zoo unveiled their newly developed brand to the public, with fresh logos and designs around the park itself, all of which centered more on the “why” of what the Zoo does. This reimagining of the Zoo’s identity led to a retooling of their mission statement: “Seneca Park Zoo inspires our community to connect, care for, and conserve wildlife and wild places.” The Zoo’s new mission shorthand’s to “Connect. Care. Conserve.”

    The Zoo’s steps to redefine themselves and become relevant to their community now and in the future has led to their latest venture – a five-year capital campaign, “Wilder Vision” that began in 2017. The goal of the campaign is to raise $60 million to fund an “awe-inspiring transformation” that would expand the Zoo by four acres and increase its footprint by 20 percent. The campaign began with a commitment from Monroe County’s of $37 million. The Seneca Park Zoo Society will be raising the rest of the funds, with the board committing to raise 100 percent of the remaining money for the expansion.  

    The Zoo has already begun this exciting transformation, adding state-of-the-art habitats like the new “Animals of the Savanna” habitat to house new species, opening on September 13. Between now and 2022, the Zoo will also demolish the original Main Building (built in 1931), construct and debut a new cafe, begin tram service, and open another main habitat and brand-new guest services facilities.

    Reed Sanchez says that the support from their funders and donors, who are primarily local to the Rochester area, is directly affected by the relationships and trust she and her team have built with them. The Zoo applies the same techniques used to engage their community to further involve their funders. “We educate them about what zoos actually are and what our role is. They start realizing, ‘Oh my goodness, this is a treasure for the region. This is going to make Rochester a better place,’” she says. “There’s a pride; you can actually see people stand up straight when they see what’s happening here.”

    This instillation of pride in the Zoo and in the unique culture of Rochester is part of what Reed Sanchez and her staff are capitalizing on with the radical transformation underway right now. By modernizing their identity and expanding their footprint, the Seneca Park Zoo is redefining what it means to be a zoo.

    Words by Sarah Heikkinen. Photos courtesy of the Seneca Park Zoo.

  • August 28, 2018 2:07 PM | Anonymous

    Living in the great and unpredictable state of New York can sometimes be a challenge for its year-round residents. Each season brings on a different extreme: heat, cold, inclement weather…you name it, New Yorkers have seen it. But how can cultural institutions prepare for the worst? What resources are there for museums to learn how to protect and preserve their collections?

    That’s where the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE) comes in. This November, in partnership with New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP), MANY will be hosting a “Risk Management for Collections” workshop with the RCE at the Oneida County History Center in Utica, NY.

    We talked to Renate van Leijen, Advisor of Safe Heritage at the RCE, and Bart Ankersmit, Ph.D., Senior Researcher at the RCE and mastermind behind the program, to learn more about “Risk Management for Collections,” the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands, and why the Dutch are coming back to New York.

    Here are five things you need to know before you join us in Utica on November 13.

    1. The program is an extension of Dr. Ankersmit’s previous work.

    After finishing his Doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry, Dr. Ankersmit started working at the RCE – then known as the Central Laboratory for Objects of Art and Science – in 1996. He initially worked on the preventative conservation of silver artifacts, but after four years, his interests shifted to risk management. In 2009, Ankersmit published new climate guidelines for Dutch Museums, in which, he says, “a decision-making process is presented that combines the value of the building and the objects with climate risks to find an optimum mitigation strategy.” At the end of 2016, Ankersmit and his colleague, Marc Stappers, published an English translation of the guidelines: Managing Indoor Climate Risks.

    Over the past few years, Ankersmit has developed a risk management tool through several workshops in close collaboration with the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) and the Canadian Conservation Institute (CCI). This internationally cooperative work is what led to the publishing of the “Risk Management for Collections” workbook, which will be distributed at the November workshop.

    2. We may not be able to avoid natural disasters, but we can still prepare for them.

    “Preparedness is really an important issue,” says Ankersmit. “Because we as heritage professionals can’t avoid a flooding of rivers, [it is our job] to ensure that water does not threaten the collection.” Ankersmit and van Leijen say that disaster preparedness for a museum’s collections is a lot like making an emergency plan for other disasters. They suggest that museum professionals write up emergency response instructions and stay in close contact with emergency responders in their towns. “Make sure that they know you have vulnerable heritage [collections],” they say.

    3.  Attendees will learn a lot in just one day.

    Although the “Risk Management for Collections” workshop is only a one-day training program, Ankersmit and van Leijen say participants will leave with new knowledge about how to prepare for the unexpected. Through the program, attendees will learn more about the relationship between cultural values, susceptibility, and exposure that make up many of the risks posed to collections. Ankersmit and van Leijen will also explain two of the tools that make up the Risk Management approach: the QuickScan and ABC Method and introduce participants to the “10 agents of deterioration.”

    4.  New York State has strong ties to the Netherlands.

    Time for a brief history lesson! After several thousand years of being inhabited by tribes of Algonquian and Iroquoian Native Americans, what is now known as New York State was visited by Henry Hudson, an English navigator sailing for the Dutch East India Company in 1609. Before the colony was seized by the British in 1664, who renamed it New York, the Dutch built Fort Nassau in what is now present-day Albany, settled New Amsterdam (present-day Manhattan), and parts of the Hudson Valley, and established the colony of New Netherland.

    What does this have to do with Risk Management for Collections, though? The State Historic Site system consists of 35 sites owned and operated by the OPRHP – six of these sites, five of which are in the Hudson Valley, are connected to the Dutch’s heritage in New York State. “This valuable training opportunity will allow the OPRHP to share this newly acquired knowledge with all of the many historic sites and museums connected to Dutch heritage in the Hudson River Valley Corridor of New York, raising the capacity of many institutions,” Ankersmit and van Leijen say.

    5. This program is valuable to anyone and everyone working in museums.

    This workshop will teach attendees how to apply value- and risk-based decision-making to achieve sustainable conservation and preservation action plans for their collections. “Participants will be shown how to look at hazards and risks in an integral way,” Ankersmit and van Leijen say. “We need to step outside our comfort zones and think about processes or events that can take place that were not yet seen as relevant risks.”

    The Risk Management for Collections workshop will be held at the Oneida County History Center on November 13, 2018, from 9:00am to 3:30pm. All attendees are invited to join MANY for a reception at 4:30 following the workshop. Register today; space is limited!

    * * *

    Dr. Bart Ankersmit is a Senior Researcher at the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands in Amsterdam (RCE). After receiving his Doctorate in Inorganic Chemistry, Ankersmit started working at the RCE in 1996. His work began with a four-year EU project on the preventive conservation of silver artifacts and has shifted to managing risks to collections. In 2009, Ankersmit published the new climate guidelines for Dutch museums, Managing Indoor Climate Risks, in which a decision-making process was presented that balances the value of the building and the objects with climate risks to find an optimal mitigation strategy. An updated and translated version was released in 2016.

    Renate van Leijen is the Advisor of Safe Heritage at the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands in Amsterdam (RCE). The Safe Heritage program at the RCE focuses on risk and crisis management, emergency planning, incident registration, and collection assistance with special attention given to awareness and prevention. They share information, develop products and services with and for the heritage managers, heritage advisors, and directors. 

    About the RCE: The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed) is part of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. The RCE helps other parties to get the best out of cultural heritage. They are closely involved in listing, preserving, sustainably developing and providing access to the most valuable heritage in their country. They are the link between policymakers, academics and practitioners. They provide advice, knowledge and information, and perform certain statutory duties. 

    Words by Sarah Heikkinen.

  • July 24, 2018 12:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The windows in the MANY office look out onto the Hudson River just below the Green Island Bridge where boats approach the northern most navigable point before they turn west onto the Erie Canal or Mohawk River. As I begin my third year as Executive Director of MANY at the eastern edge of New York’s crossroads, I am excited to imagine the routes we will travel north, south, and west in the coming months. Our programs start early this year to help get MANY members and colleagues out in the glorious fall weather. You can check out our entire fall event schedule and register for programs here.

    On August 30, MANY will be at the Thomas Cole House with a grant program workshop led by Humanities New York, a tour of the historic house, and a Meet-Up on the lawn. I enjoy thinking of Cole as an immigrant to New York whose perspective as a newcomer helped him see and reflect how culture and nature are inextricably linked in our American identity. If you are a museum professional in the Capital Region, register now because space is limited! If you are from outside the Capital Region, but plan to travel “upstate” for the Labor Day holiday, think about coming up on Thursday and joining us.

    Come to Canandaigua on September 6 and see all that the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park has to offer. Restorations have breathed new life into the historic gardens, making this a must-see on any travel to the Finger Lakes. Join us at Sonnenberg for a Collections Assessment for Preservation Workshop followed by a tour of the gardens, green house, and mansion topped off with a MANY Meet Up.

    We asked Visioning Change annual conference attendees to let us know the programs that they enjoyed most and found most useful. We took those top-ranked presentations and created four Re-Visioning Change Workshops for those who could not join us in Rochester. The first will be on Friday, September 14th at SUNY New Paltz where Micah Blumenthal, Storyteller/Co-Workshop Leader, TMI Project and Kara Gaffken, Director of Public Programming, Historic Huguenot Street will present Reclaiming Our Time: Making History Relevant by Connecting Slavery and Racism in Modern America, Miranda Peters, Collections Manager, and Margaret Staudter, Registrar, Fort Ticonderoga will share Skeletons in the Closet: How to Tackle the Biggest Collections Challenges Head On and Ken Meifert, VP, Sponsorship & Development, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will discuss Members? Donors? I Just Need People to Support My Mission…

    Dedicate a day to professional development and join us at Fort Ticonderoga on September 20. The Fort opens at 9:30 AM and Meet Up participants will receive free admission all day. At 1:30 we will enjoy gorgeous, sweeping vistas of the Green and Adirondack mountains during a narrated 90-minute boat tour aboard the Carillon on Lake Champlain. At 3:30 Fort Ticonderoga Museum staff will share their unique approach to telling history. Collections, Curatorial, and Public History staff will discuss how their annual focus on a single year of Ticonderoga’s history delivers specific and powerful experiences through collaborative and creative approaches. Our Meet up at 5:30 will offer beer, wine, and light refreshments and time to network with your North Country colleagues. Admission, the tour and Meet Up are free, but tickets for the boat tour are first-come, first-served with discounted tickets at $30 per person.  

    We close September at Great Camp Sagamore with the 2018 Museum Institute Leaders Define Leadership. We are excited to announce that this year includes a “Night at the Museum” at The Adirondack Experience and a boat tour on Raquette Lake. Formal sessions will include building cultural competence, supporting financial and human resources, enhancing board capacity, and creating professional communities. The program is structured so that each attendee will step into the role of and explore what it means to be a museum leader. At the time of publication of this e-newsletter, there were only nine spaces left!

    Thank you for your support and look forward to seeing you in my travels,

  • July 24, 2018 11:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    After 50 years in operation, The Studio Museum in Harlem is shaking things up with a big move, heralding in a new, innovative era for the Museum.

    Founded in 1968 with a mission of highlighting the work and amplifying the voices of artists of African descent, The Studio Museum has created spaces in the art world for black and African artists that were otherwise inaccessible to them. Now, the Museum is taking great strides with the construction of a brand-new building, designed by Adjaye Associates’ founder and principal architect, Sir David Adjaye OBE and the award-winning New York museum architecture firm, Cooper Robertson. The new building will celebrate the core mission of the Museum and the artists it collaborates with through specially-designed spaces.

    We spoke with Alani Bass, Marketing Coordinator for The Studio Museum, about the steps the Museum has taken – and is continuing to take – to prepare for an exciting new future in Harlem.

    Tell me about the construction of the new building for the Studio Museum. How did this all start?

    For 50 years, The Studio Museum in Harlem has been a trailblazer in the global cultural conversation by presenting, collecting and interpreting the work of artists of African descent. However, the Museum has never occupied a space built intentionally for its programming. The Studio Museum’s new building, designed by Adjaye Associates in collaboration with Cooper Robertson, sought to create purpose-built spaces that celebrate the rich heritage of the institution, its relationship with artists and its role as a pillar of Harlem’s cultural life. Undertaken as a public-private initiative in partnership with the City of New York, the entirely new 82,000 square-foot building will be constructed on the site of our current facility, a century-old commercial building that was adapted for the Museum in the early 1980s by late African-American architect J. Max Bond Jr.

    What’s going to be different about the new building? What new exhibitions/programs will be offered utilizing the new space?

    The new, 82,000 square-foot Studio Museum building is designed to express the Museum’s core values of openness and engagement, while also providing exceptional new spaces to elevate the Museum’s service to artists, audiences, the uniquely vibrant Harlem community, and the world of art. Space for exhibiting and creating artworks will more than double, allowing the Museum to share even more art from the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions year-round. Visitor, public, and educational spaces will increase by nearly 50%; and outdoor space will also double.

    Tell me more about the inHarlem program.

    In the summer of 2016, the Studio Museum launched inHarlem, a set of collaborative programs in our neighborhood. It has been an amazing way to deepen our roots in a community that we have been a part of for fifty years, and continue our groundbreaking exhibitions, public programming, and educational art-making workshops while the building is closed for construction.

    The first artists’ projects in 2016 were commissioned sculptural works by artists Kevin Beasley, Simone Leigh, Kori Newkirk and Rudy Shepherd, installed in Morningside Park, Marcus Garvey Park, St. Nicholas Park and Jackie Robinson Park. This marked the Museum’s first large-scale, public art initiative and was a partnership with New York City Parks and Historic Harlem Parks, along with the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance. Since this initial year-long project, we’ve increased programming to a variety of partner and satellite locations in Harlem, including New York Public Library branches, Maysles Documentary Center, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and more. You can find our current inHarlem exhibitions, Firelei Báez: Joy Out of Fire and Maren Hassinger: Monuments, on view now at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and in Marcus Garvey Park, respectively.

    How has the community reacted to inHarlem? To the closure of the galleries?

    Our audiences have expressed great excitement for the future of the Museum. They’ve continued to support and engage with us at our various sites throughout Harlem and engagement online continues to grow! Our inHarlem programming lets our community and artists know that our work has, and always will be, for them.  

    What are you most excited for with everything that’s changing? What do you hope your visitors will get out of this?

    I am most excited to experience the ways in which the Museum continues to grow and contribute to the rich cultural history of the community. I hope that our visitors are excited to join us on this journey of newness and change, and feel welcomed and empowered in our new home.

    Words by Sarah Heikkinen. Photos courtesy of The Studio Museum in Harlem.

  • July 24, 2018 11:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Engaging an entire community can seem like a daunting task for some small museums and historical societies – not everyone has a strong passion for the work museums do, or they aren’t interested in what’s presented to them at face value. Sometimes, community members may not even know that there even are any cultural institutions right down the road from where they live.

    At the Rensselaer County Historical Society (RCHS), located in downtown Troy, NY, the staff meets this challenge head-on. How do they do it? The answer is simple: they partner with their community to serve their community.

    On the last Friday of every month, the city of Troy’s Business Improvement District – Troy BID – hosts Troy Night Out, an “arts and cultural event that regularly draws thousands of people onto the streets of Downtown Troy.” Every month, the Troy BID works with local venues, boutiques, restaurants, venues, and cultural institutions (like the RCHS) to increase foot traffic in Downtown Troy and bolster the successes of small businesses in the city.

    Businesses will often offer special deals or events on Troy Night Out, which has a different theme every month. In June, the theme was “Carnival!” Locally loved restaurants and bars added carnival- and summer-themed specials to their menus, boutiques and shops handed out free balloons and snacks, and the RCHS hosted author and baseball historian David Rapp for a special discussion of his new book, Tinker to Evers to Chance: The Chicago Cubs and the Dawn of Modern America.

    The RCHS has been participating in Troy Night Out since its inception. Although only three percent of the RCHS’ funding comes from government sources – which means that the other 97 percent comes exclusively from fundraising and admission prices – RCHS Executive Director Karin Krasevac-Lenz says the Society still wanted to offer free admission during Troy Night Out. “We still felt it was appropriate, especially in a community that has a 41 percent poverty rate – which is what Downtown Troy has – that we have one night a month where everybody can come in, and we try to get that word out.”

    No matter the theme of the month (July’s theme is “Where in Troy is Uncle Sam?”), Krasevac-Lenz says the RCHS always has something going on when Troy Night Out rolls around. Whether that’s a special micro-exhibit that ties in with the Troy Night Out theme or with a relevant event in Rensselaer County history, visitors can be assured that the RCHS will be participating. When the RCHS hosted the Capital Region Underground Railroad Conference, they displayed an exhibit on art of the Underground Railroad at the following Troy Night Out. And this month, they’re hosting a historical English line dancing class with Don Bell and the Heartsease Band. “We try to have something special every time to draw people in,” Krasevac-Lenz says.

    In the two years Krasevac-Lenz has been with the RCHS, she says she’s seen how participating in Troy Night Out fulfills the organization’s core mission of serving their entire community – not just their members. When author David Rapp spoke in June about his new book on baseball history, the RCHS was packed full. “We had 88 people here, just for that,” Krasevac-Lenz says. “We kept saying, ‘No, get up! Look at the galleries, too!’”

    By participating in Troy Night Out, the RCHS has opened their doors to members of the Troy community who may have otherwise never set foot in their local historical society. Krasevac-Lenz says that they’ve had visitors come in during Troy Night Out who have never been in a museum. “If they stay 15 minutes and they leave and say, ‘Eh…I don’t know,’ well, at least they’ve experienced a museum. We’ve gotten them in the door,” she says.

    So, why should smaller museums get as involved in their communities as they can? Krasevac-Lenz says the most important facet of the RCHS’ mission – and the mission of cultural institutions as a whole – is to serve their community, both members and otherwise.

    “The more you broaden your audience, the stronger your mission, and eventually, the stronger your organization is,” she says. “If you get 10 percent of those people to come back, or 10 percent of those people become members, you have now built a stronger foundation for your organization’s future.”

    Words by Sarah Heikkinen. Photos by Sarah Heikkinen, RCHS, and Troy BID.

  • July 24, 2018 10:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    How many famous artists can you name? Five? Ten? Maybe more?

    Now, how many of those artists were men? How many were women?

    Chances are, the first names that popped in your head were those of art history’s most recognizable male artists. If you thought of any women, ask yourself: were they among the most famous artists of all time – women like Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe who have transcended the art world’s historic predication towards favoring men to become household names?

    As is often the case, women are frequently left out – or completely erased – from history. In the art world, when tastes and aesthetics change rapidly as new artforms are popularized, women artists find their work pushed aside in favor of their male counterparts. In her 1971 essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” renowned feminist art historian Linda Nochlin wrote, “Things as they are and as they have been, in the art world as in a hundred other areas, are stultifying, oppressing and discouraging to all those, women among them, who did not have the good fortune to be born white, preferably middle class and, above all, male.”

    With the country celebrating the centennial of the 19th Amendment until 2020, which granted women the right to vote, cultural institutions across New York – like the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls – are doing their part to honor women’s historical impact on art, culture, and history in New York State.

    The Hyde Collection was founded by Charlotte Pruyn Hyde in 1952, with a founding mission to “maintain a Museum for the exhibition of the permanent collection and to promote and cultivate the improvement of the fine arts, for the education and benefit of the residents of Glens Falls and vicinity and the general public.” Eleven years later, the Hyde opened as a museum, quickly establishing itself as “one of the Northeast’s exceptional small art museums,” with a permanent core collection acquired by Charlotte and her husband, Louis Hyde.

    Since its founding over 50 years ago, the Hyde has become known for its impressive exhibitions of classic American and European art, with work by world-renowned impressionists like Edgar Degas and Pierre-Auguste Renoir housed in their core collection. But in August, the forgotten women of the impressionist movement will finally get their due with the Hyde’s two upcoming exhibitions, Jane Peterson: At Home and Abroad, and Changing the Landscape: Women Impressionists from the Thomas Clark Collection.

    Who was Jane Peterson?

    “Jane Peterson probably was the best known of women artists of her day,” says Canning, who has been working on the design of the At Home and Abroad exhibition in preparation for its opening on August 5.

    Jane Peterson (American, 1876-1965), Gloucester Fleet, n.d., Oil on canvas, 30 ¼ x 40 ¼ in. (76.84 x 102.24 cm), Collection of David and ‘Weezie’ Reese. Photo © Christie’s Images/Bridgeman Images

    Born to a middle-class family in mid-19th century Illinois, Jane Peterson – whose given name was Jennie – quickly rose to prominence in the art world of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She attended classes at the newly formed Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and the Art Students League in New York City. After completing her studies, Peterson, like most young artists of her time, traveled abroad to Europe to study under artists like Frank Brangwyn in Venice and London, Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida in Madrid, and Jacques Blanche and Andrew L’Hote in Paris.

    “She was just a sponge to the different styles that she saw,” says Canning, pointing out that the influence her teachers and, later, her contemporaries had on her artistic style evolution is seen in the flatter, more stylized forms of a particular painting of horseshoe crabs. “These make an interesting kind of contrast of how her style develops from impressionism, and then the influence of expressionism, the bright colors of Fauvism, the flat linear drawing of Van Gogh…that’s what I’m trying to sort of focus on in the gallery.” 

    After finishing her European tour and a solo trip to Egypt, Peterson returned to the United States, where she became a pillar of the arts colonies on the East Coast. While her pieces from her travels across Europe throughout her life inform the “Abroad” section of the Hyde’s exhibition, her paintings of scenes around Gloucester, MA, are the core of the “At Home” side of the gallery, along with scenes from her transcontinental travels with her friend and patron, American designer Louis Comfort Tiffany.

    Changing the Landscape

    While Peterson has continued to be a well-known name amongst American art historians – Canning says most of his colleagues were familiar with her work when they began working on curating the exhibit – she is only one among many women impressionists of her time that is still remembered in modern times.

    Impressionism as an art style held a special affinity for women artists of the time, who were almost exclusively restricted in what – or who – they could paint. “Impressionism was this new style that was pushing social boundaries, and of course it’s only by pushing the boundaries that women get the right to be able to leave the home and go to art school,” says Canning. “Society in general was opening up for women to be out there.”

    With the influence of “les trois grandes dames” of impressionism (Mary Cassatt, Marie Bracquemond, and Berthe Morisot) – who were taken under the wings of Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Edouard Manet – women who aspired to be artists in a time when doing so would be considered improper and nothing more than a hobby were given a chance to show the world what they were capable of by joining the impressionist movement.

    Anne Ramsdell Congdon (American, 1873-1958), Nantucket Harbor, 1935, oil on canvas board, 8 x 10 in., The Thomas Clark Collection of American Paintings.

    The main difference between Peterson and her contemporaries, like Mabel Woodward, Louise Upton Brumback, and Anne Ramsdell Congdon (all of whom will be exhibited in the Thomas Clark show), is that one of them managed to survive the test of time, and the others were forgotten. This was not for lack of talent, merit, or renown in their lifetimes, Canning says. Post-war styles of abstraction and pop art changed the tides of aesthetics in the art world, which led to the erasure of most of the women who had become significant members of the impressionist and expressionist movements. 

    “They were all known, they were all reviewed,” Canning says of the women impressionists that will be showcased in the Changing Landscapes exhibition, which is made up of Albany art collector Thomas Clark’s extensive collection of 20th century impressionist art. “After their deaths, this whole generation of impressionists’ reputations just decline into obscurity. But it’s a more rapid decline for the women artists.”

    The Hyde is hoping to make up for this decline by showcasing Thomas Clark’s impressive collection of work by generally forgotten women. “There are these artists with skill and reputations to be rediscovered, and the Clark Collection lets us do that.”

    The Clark exhibition will feature 21 female contemporaries of Jane Peterson, fortuitously complementing the At Home and Abroad exhibition. Thomas Clark, a collector from the Capital Region, has been building his collection of impressionist work for several decades, with a special focus on landscapes. “He’s really got some depth within that,” Canning says. “He has gone for paintings that appeal to him, that show skill in use of color and composition and handling of paint, and isn’t worried so much about the name recognition of the artist.” This, Canning says, is how the Hyde has been able to draw the group of 21 women from Clark’s collection. 

    Canning has tried to make sure that it will be clear that the art market of the time opened up to train and promote women impressionists. “It’s really our mistake to have forgotten them,” he says.

    Why It Matters

    While Canning says that the Hyde’s shows have been very 20th century-focused this year, with exhibitions of Alphonse Mucha and Rockwell Kent during the first half of the year, the Jane Peterson and Thomas Clark shows hold an important place in the museum’s plan for engaging their audience.

    “We’re at a moment where we are taking stock of women’s place in American society,” he says, especially at a moment in time when the erasure of women throughout history and art is more prevalent and political than ever. Both exhibitions allow for the rediscovery and reclamation of exceptional women artists, who through no fault of their own, were forgotten.

    Canning’s own goals as the curatorial director at the Hyde will be advanced by the Jane Peterson and Thomas Clark shows. “I’m constantly thinking about providing variety, always having a solid base in what I know our audience likes, but introducing something new,” he says.

    Since the Hyde is known for their impressive collection of classic American and European art, along with a collection of contemporary work, Canning wants to ensure that their audiences will be exposed to those contrasting styles. “The Hyde needs to keep up to date, but we also need to serve an audience.”

    In the coming year, Canning will continue to expose the Hyde’s audiences to art and artists of whom they might not be aware, like the women in impressionism exhibitions. The Hyde will be finishing out 2018 with an impressive show of Japanese prints from the art galleries at Syracuse University. In 2019, visitors will be treated to exhibitions featuring photography, urban scene paintings from John Sloane, and prints by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and Fernand Léger. The most important thing, he says, is that visitors leave the shows knowing that the Hyde will be completely different the next time they come.

    “Wherever I’ve worked, I’ve always faced the same comment: ‘Oh, I went when I was a child. Is there anything new here?’” Canning laughs. “Yes! The Hyde changes. It’s worth coming back, because you will find something new. It’s intended to interest and challenge you, it is intended to both give you depth and greater understanding, and to broaden your horizons.”

    Jane Peterson: At Home and Abroad and Changing the Landscape: Women Impressionists from the Thomas Clark Collection open at the Hyde Collection August 5. Visit their website for more information and visitation hours.

    Words and photos by Sarah Heikkinen.

  • June 28, 2018 3:26 PM | Anonymous

    Are you inland or coastal? Do you travel on, in, along, around, or over? What do you celebrate at the shoreline?

    I am very pleased to announce that the Museum Association of New York (MANY) will be the organizational partner for the state-wide tour of the Smithsonian Museum’s Museum on Main Street Water/Ways exhibition. Museum on Main Street (MoMS) exhibitions are designed to inspire dialogue, connect communities, and open doors to new programming through an expertly designed traveling exhibit. MANY is delighted to help build the capacity of our state’s museums and cultural heritage organizations by bringing this national program to our state as we celebrate the Erie Canal Bicentennial. The exhibition and programs produced across the state about our waters will tie stories about New York’s history, art, and culture to the story of our nation and our world.

    Fishing on the Chattahoochee River, Ga. Photo by Steve Harwood.

    Water/Ways will travel to six small- to mid-sized museums for six weeks each between June of 2019 and April of 2020. Three museums along the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor in the Western, Central, and Capital regions will be selected. The fourth site will be located in the Hudson River National Heritage Area, the fifth in Suffolk County, and the sixth location will be a museum in any part of the state that makes a strong case for the importance of water to its history and cultural heritage. The goal of the program is to bring the highest quality exhibition possible to museums that can leverage this resource to build long lasting relationships with their community, add local resources to a national program, improve organizational sustainability, and create a convening location for discussions where everyone’s water story can be heard.

    Sites will be selected through an application process. Each site will be judged on its own merits and its ability to muster the resources necessary to host the exhibition. Successful applicants will have a proven track record of community collaborations through exhibitions, school partnerships, and public programs. Additional decision-making factors will include the ability to care for the exhibition, commitment to plan and implement at least four public programs/events, and experience developing exhibitions that interpret the natural environment through the arts and humanities.

    The exhibition is comprised of five easy-to-assemble, free-standing sections and two interactive kiosk monitors. Museums will be required to contribute between $250 and $500 (on a sliding scale by budget size), cover the cost of shipping the exhibition to the next host site on the tour (estimates pending), meet exhibition space and security requirements outlined in the application form, and comply with the ADA. Water|Ways requires a minimum of 800 square feet with 8.5-foot ceiling and electricity. Museums will also be required send two staff members to attend training workshops in December 2018 and spring of 2019 (dates and locations pending). Additional information and a sneak-peak video about the exhibition can be found here.

    Hadley Exhibits, Inc. provided inaugural funding with partial project support that will allow MANY to cover exhibition rental costs, deliver training and capacity building workshops with MoMS staff, waive registration fees for most of our fall 2018 professional development programs for selected site museum staff, and provide promotional materials (banners, posters, postcards, docent handbooks, teacher resources, press kit, and social media templates). MANY staff will be available for ongoing consultation and support and will help connect sites to local art centers and regional cultural institutions. We are seeking additional sponsors and funding sources to help support programs and community-based exhibitions that share all of New York’s water stories.

    Interested museums should send an email to me: esanger@nysmuseums.org by 5 PM on July 13 with “Interested in Water/Ways” as the subject line. I will reply with the RFP and application attached. I will be happy to answer questions about the process and share ideas for the exciting ways this program can make a splash in your community once you have read the materials. Applications are due by 5 PM on August 10 and I will notify selected museums on August 24. MANY jumped into Water/Ways with both feet, but not much time to spare to bring this important program to New York State in time for the Erie Canalway Bicentennial.

    We are riding a fast tide to June 2019 and I look forward to seeing you on the water!

    Erika Sanger
    Executive Director, MANY

  • June 28, 2018 3:08 PM | Anonymous

    Glass may be fragile, but the meaningful connections the Corning Museum of Glass’ GlassBarge forges in the communities it visits are anything but.

    On the longest day of the year, residents of the Capital Region gathered together on the Hudson in Troy, NY to learn how glassblowers at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) in Corning, NY make the intricate pieces on display at CMog at a live demonstration on the GlassBarge. “We couldn’t have asked for a better day,” Steve Gibbs, Senior Manager of Hot Glass Business at CMoG, said to the 150 people in the sold-out bleacher seats on the Barge.

    The GlassBarge was launched this year to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Corning’s glass-making industry move from Brooklyn to Corning, NY. The celebration coincides with the 200th anniversary of the construction of the Erie Canal – for which the Barge is a signature event – and the 100th anniversary of the Barge Canal, the waterway’s third expansion. Over the course of four months, the Barge will be retracing its original journey before making its final stop in Corning on September 22.

    GlassBarge launches in Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of CMoG.

    The GlassBarge launched in Brooklyn Bridge Park in late May and traveled up the Hudson with stops in Kingston and Poughkeepsie before docking in Troy and Waterford for five days of demonstrations on the Hudson. Their next stops? Harbors along the Erie Canal.

    The original Barge’s journey to Corning started in 1868, when the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company chugged along New York’s waterways before landing in Corning. This led to the evolution of the company into Corning Incorporated, officially bringing the glass industry to the Southern Tier, and resulting in the founding of CMoG in 1951. 

    Postcard, View of Corning New York from Surrounding Hills, Boston: Tichnor Bros., Inc., about 1930-44.
    The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, New York (CMGL 167595)

    “The 1868 trip on the Hudson River and canal systems of New York State launched 150 years of glass innovation in Corning,” said Rob Cassetti, Senior Director of Creative Strategy and Audience Engagement at CMoG, in a blog post published on the MANY website. “We’re honoring this occasion by taking innovations developed by CMoG – namely, our patented electric hot shop and mobile hot glass programming – back to its roots: that notable journey along New York’s waterways.”

    And last Friday, that journey was celebrated with a very receptive audience of Capital Region community members on the Hudson, where the GlassBarge was welcomed by local politicians and donors in Troy. Patrick Madden, the major of Troy, noted in his welcome that the history of the Barge’s journey and its connection to New York’s waterways is not lost to the Troy community. “Much has changed,” he said, “but we still see the buildings they passed by 150 years ago.”

    Brian Stratton, the former Mayor of Schenectady and current director of the New York State Canal Corporation, said that the GlassBarge journey was “magical,” continuing on to reflect that the Barge was celebrating an inherently New York story. Stratton compared the impact of the original Barge’s journey to the construction of the Erie and Barge Canals, which helped lead to the founding of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and the introduction of the engineering program at Union College. “We’re contributing to things that make our great state the Empire State,” he said.

    Brian Stratton, Director of the NYS Canal Corporation, at the GlassBarge demonstration in Troy, NY. Photo by Sarah Heikkinen

    The local sponsors of the Barge were invited onstage to for a ceremonial hot glass ribbon cutting. A representative of Capital Bank, the Barge’s largest local sponsor, was given the opportunity to cut the ribbon, honoring the Barge’s commitment to engaging the communities it passes through. “I might make my shoes a victim of [the glassblower’s] talents,” he joked, brandishing a pair of large shears before (safely) cutting the hot glass ribbon.

    The hot glass ribbon cutting. Photo by Sarah Heikkinen.

    After the local supporters of the Barge left the stage, the audience was treated to a stunning demonstration by CMoG glassmaker G. Brian Juk, who has been blowing glass for 20 years, and his two assistant gaffers. Juk walked through the construction of an intricately designed bowl. At various points throughout the demonstration, the crowd was wowed by literal sparks flying off the glowing, malleable glass as Juk carefully crafted the bowl (which was too hot to touch – the molten glass in the GlassBarge’s furnace is kept at 2100°F).

    CMoG glassmaker G. Brian Juk shaping the bowl for the demonstration. Photo by Sarah Heikkinen.

    As everyone carefully made their way off the Barge after Juk and his gaffers stored their finished bowl in the 900°F cooling oven called an annealer, almost everyone stopped to ask Juk questions about his work.

    The GlassBarge will continue its journey westward on the Erie Canal, docking in Buffalo on August 3 before turning around for the final legs of its journey back to Corning. It will be accompanied by the Lois McClure, a replica of an 1862 canal barge, and the C.L. Churchill, a 1964 tugboat; both vessels are part of the permanent collection of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

    Dates and locations can be found on the CMoG website.

    Words by Sarah Heikkinen.

The Museum Association of New York strengthens the capacity of New York State’s cultural community by supporting professional standards and organizational development. We provide advocacy, training, and networking opportunities so that museums and museum professionals may better serve their missions and communities.

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