My Profile

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!

Click here to download the 2018 MANY Annual Report.
  • 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 | Deleted user

    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 | Deleted user

    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.

  • June 28, 2018 1:43 PM | Deleted user


    Whether we’re professional curators or not, we all do it. Some people collect art or stamps, and sometimes even more eclectic items, while other’s curatorial pursuits find them invested in America’s favorite pastime: baseball.

    At the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY, the hobbyist will mesh with the curator in the Hall of Fame’s upcoming exhibition, Shoebox Treasures, opening next spring. Shoebox Treasures will take a deeper exploratory dive into the hobby of collecting baseball cards, examining the history, tradition, and design evolution of cards.

    The National Baseball Hall of Fame on opening weekend, 1939.

    Why baseball cards? Besides the more obvious answer (it is the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, after all) Erik Strohl, Vice President of Exhibitions and Collections at the Hall of Fame, says there are multiple facets to approaching this question. “Baseball cards are a way that many fans connect with the game, especially since it’s something they may have started doing when they were kids,” Strohl says. “It’s something that’s accessible.”

    While the Hall of Fame has had exhibits devoted to baseball cards in the past, Strohl, who has been with the Hall of Fame for 20 years, says none of them offered an interpretation of the practice of card collecting like Shoebox Treasures will. Even after the public outcry that followed the closure of the previous baseball card exhibit, Strohl says the Hall of Fame was in no rush to put something back up on display. “We wanted to do it the right way,” he says.

    Shoebox Treasures will explore the history of baseball cards, but with a twist. They’ll be approaching their interpretation from a variety of standpoints – collectors, producers, and players – while also using innovative new technologies to showcase the Hall of Fame’s collection of 140,000 baseball cards.

    Jim "Catfish" Hunter's Topps card (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum).

    Strohl says he and the rest of the Hall of Fame staff are excited to be incorporating displays and technology in Shoebox Treasures. The exhibit will be implementing new tools of conservation in their baseball card display. The cards will be kept in drawers that visitors will be able to pull out to view an entire panel of cards, which Strohl says will reduce the square footage of the exhibit while also allowing them to show more cards in less space.

    The exhibit, which is slated to open next spring, will also feature the Hall of Fame’s “Holy Grail” cards – the rarest and most sought-after cards in the collection – in a way that their exposure to light will be cut down significantly. “This is some cutting-edge stuff that we haven’t done anything with,” Strohl says. “It’s always fun to incorporate something new in the fabrication part of the exhibit that’s going to show the benefits to the visiting public.”

    Ken Meifert, Vice President of Sponsorship and Development at the Hall of Fame, says that baseball cards have a much deeper story than one could imagine. “It’s not just about the piece of cardboard,” he says. “I think there’s a lot of stories that can be told, and a lot of different ways that people can engage with the card exhibit beyond the idea of having a pack of cards with a rubber band around them.”

    Willie Crawford's Topps card (Milo Stewart Jr./National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum).

    The duality of collecting as being both hobby- and museum-based is one of the main themes of Shoebox Treasures. Initially, the Hall of Fame had planned to examine the relationship between hobbyists, investors, and collectors, but soon realized that there was less of a distinction than they had thought at first. While there are investors and collectors out there who are savvy when it comes to investing in the rarest and most expensive cards, both Meifert and Strohl say they’re all hobbyists at heart.

    “What we’re exploring historically, which is the history of card collecting, you started off with hobbyists,” Strohl says, going on to explain how some hobbyists evolved into investors and collectors as the market for baseball cards grew. “People are still thinking about value, but they wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t hobbyists and if they didn’t love it. We found less and less of a distinction from where we’d thought about it.”

    Meifert agrees. “What we’ve come to realize as we’ve spent more time with guys who are buying multimillion dollar single cards and folks who are buying 25 cent common cards, the only thing that’s really different is the number of zeroes to the left of the decimal point,” he says. “The passion in their approach is similar, it’s just a matter of value.”

    Meifert has been handling the Hall of Fame’s fundraising efforts for Shoebox Treasures since the exhibit’s proposal was accepted in January. The proposal estimated that the total budget for the exhibit would be $800,000; in the five months since the Hall of Fame started fundraising, that goal has been surpassed by 10 percent.

    “The response has just been overwhelming,” he says, adding that he’s seen a significant increase in the number of donors adding personal messages to their contributions. “I’ve seen tons of notes from people talking about their favorite cards or wanting to tell us what they’re favorite set is, or what era they’ve collected. [It’s] another indicator that we’re really touching something that means something to people, and that’s pretty cool.”

    Learn more about Shoebox Treasures here.

    Words by Sarah Heikkinen. Photos courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

  • June 28, 2018 1:13 PM | Deleted user

    Over the past decade, virtual and augmented reality tools have become increasingly popular interpretive resources for museums. Now, visitors are exposed to new, innovative experiences at their favorite cultural institutions, sometimes without even needing to leave the comfort of their homes. From 360 videos on Facebook and YouTube, to mind-bending apps to use on site, museums are experimenting with exciting ways to engage their audiences.

    In 2017, the Smithsonian American Art Museum teamed up with Intel to “develop an experience that takes advantage of room-scale VR’s immersiveness.” The Smithsonian and Intel worked with VR studios like V.A.L.I.S. and Framestore to make a virtual recreation of one wing of the art museum. Devindra Hardawar, a writer for Engadget, said his experience with the virtual tour wasn’t “photorealistic,” but was still fairly convincing. “It felt like I was standing in a museum, which is the ultimately the most pressing goal,” he wrote.

    During a recent exhibition of Parisian artist Modigliani, the Tate Modern in London conceptualized a virtual reimagination of his final studio in Paris, where the artist lived and worked between 1919 and 1920. The Tate, in partnership with VR company Preloaded, reconstructed the studio using the actual physical space as a template, then referenced “first-hand accounts and historical and technical research” to create the VR experience. The museum also digitally recreated Modigliani’s artwork, collaborating with the Museu de Arte Contemporanea de Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    “This research allowed us to portray these artworks with painstaking accuracy, from the surface texture of the canvas, to the types of paint and brushes the artist may have used, to the type of stretcher the self-portrait may have originally been painted on,” the Tate wrote on their website.

    And now, this groundbreaking technology has made its way up to the Adirondacks at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.

    The Wild Center officially opened its doors on July 4, 2006, beginning over a decade of celebrating the Adirondacks as “a great American success story.” Since then, The Wild Center has expanded its range with interactive exhibits and programs like Planet Adirondack, Wild Walk, and the Youth Climate Program.

    Now, with the help of Patrick Murphy, the Center’s Community Engagement Coordinator and recipient of MANY’s 2018 Rising Star Award of Merit, the Wild Center is heralding in a new era of immersive museum experiences with their recent collaboration with the virtual and augmented reality company, Frameless Technologies.

    When Murphy attended last year’s New York State Tourism Industry Association annual conference in Lake Placid, he was struck by the conference’s emphasis on the benefits of virtual reality on the tourism industry. He had previously been made aware of Frameless Technologies through the Center’s Executive Director, Stephanie Ratcliffe.

    “Their whole keynote address was about VR and tourism marketing,” Murphy says. “It all kind of fell into place.”

    Murphy worked with Frameless Technologies to shoot a sample of what they could do for the Center – a 360 video tour of the site. Like the VR experiences at museums like the Smithsonian or the MOCA in Los Angeles, the Center’s 360 video creates a new opportunity for off-site visitors to immerse themselves in a space to which they may not readily have access.

    Michaela Gaaserud, Frameless Technologies’ CEO, says that what her company’s goal when working with clients – especially museums – is to make unique experiences accessible. “It’s difficult to get tour operators to come out in person and check out The Wild Center,” she says. “That way, they can become more aware of it.” 

    Since the Wild Center and Frameless Technologies began their partnership, Murphy has showcasing the video to potential donors and clients with VR goggles and brought the 360 video tour of the Center with him to trade shows. The video is also available to those without access to VR goggles on YouTube, where users can navigate through the tour using their mouse and keyboard. “It’s pretty amazing to see how much more action you get off of this type of experience other than regular videos or still frames,” Murphy says. “We feel pretty good about it right now.”

    The Wild Center is also home to two other immersive virtual reality experiences: Science on a Sphere (SOS) and an augmented sand table. Developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Science on a Sphere is a “room sized, global display system that uses computers and video projectors to display planetary data onto a six-foot diameter sphere, analogous to a giant animated globe,” according to NOAA. 

    Science on a Sphere at The Wild Center. Photo courtesy of The Wild Center.

    The SOS system gives museums and science centers like The Wild Center the opportunity to enhance their educational programs by directly putting their visitors into the learning experience.

    So, what does this all mean for other museums and cultural institutions like The Wild Center? Traditionalists may say that adding technology like virtual reality and augmented reality defeats the purpose of the tried-and-true museum experience, when in actuality, these resources may serve to enhance that experience. “Virtual reality is the only type of media that elicits both a mental and physical response,” says Gaaserud.

    The augmented sand table at The Wild Center. Photo courtesy of The Wild Center.

    Bringing new technology into museums broadens the scope of people that can be reached, especially if it’s technology that can help transport someone on Long Island to the Adirondacks with just a click of a button. From the Smithsonian to The Wild Center, the possibilities are endless.

    “There’s just so much versatility within the technology,” Murphy says. “I think this kind of flexibility is key for people to be able to understand that even though The Wild Center may be using it in one way, another place can use it in a different way.”

    Words by Sarah Heikkinen. Photos and video courtesy of The Wild Center.

  • May 29, 2018 3:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Over the next three years, the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum (MHCM) in Poughkeepsie, NY will be developing and building an exciting and bold new museum campus along the city’s waterfront. “It feels like the stars are aligning,” says Lara Litchfield-Kimber, Executive Director of the MHCM.

    The expanded campus, “The Museums at Upper Landing,” will be built on the Upper Landing Property, which currently includes a pocket park along Poughkeepsie’s northern waterfront and will eventually be home to four museums, including the Children’s Museum, which borders the property. The park and surrounding properties were previously owned by The Dyson Foundation, who, in late 2017, sent out a call for development proposals from nonprofits in the Hudson Valley to take stewardship of the property.

    The MHCM had already been weighing their options for the museum itself after realizing that their current space was nearly at capacity. Litchfield-Kimber says they were considering more expansions to the museum and had even thrown the idea of relocating the museum on the table when they were invited by the Foundation to submit a proposal on what they would do should they take ownership of the land. “The timing of everything was really exciting,” Litchfield-Kimber says.

    Dyson Foundation President Andrea Reynolds said in a press release that the Foundation chose the MHCM because their proposal offered a more compelling plan for the restoration of the property, adding that their goal had always been to transfer stewardship of the land to a responsible nonprofit who would keep the public’s interest in mind during development. “We think the Children’s Museum offers a plan that fulfills that goal,” she said.

    While actual construction on the site won’t start for three years, work for Litchfield-Kimber and her planning team has already begun. For the next year, the MHCM will be studying the property, which includes determining the feasibility of transforming the two vacant, yet historic buildings on the Upper Landing Property – the Reynolds and Hoffman houses – into a new science center. In June of next year, the ownership of the property will officially transfer to the MHCM. This not only includes the vacant lots, but the Upper Landing Park itself, which Litchfield-Kimber says the MHCM will maintain.

    So, what exactly is the MHCM’s goal in transforming this property into a museum campus?

    “We’re really trying to invent the science center of the future,” Litchfield-Kimber says. “This is a really fast-living laboratory for us in terms of how we can take what has worked well in science centers in particular and turn it into something that doesn’t exist anywhere else.”

    The MHCM envisions a new campus that will preserve public green space and waterfront access with the continued maintenance of the Upper Landing Park, while simultaneously restoring and repurposing the two historically significant houses into two brand new museums focused on science education. “The fact that we’re a technology corridor without a science museum is interesting and kind of sad,” says Litchfield-Kimber. “This is our opportunity.”

    Litchfield-Kimber, who comes from a science museum background, says she’s particularly excited to introduce more science and math-driven educational content to the Poughkeepsie community. “We do get a lot to get families comfortable and ready for a lifelong museum habit,” she says, “but I would love to be able to offer more for older kids.” The Museums at Upper Landing will transform the two historic buildings on the property into science centers targeted at older children and teenagers, something Litchfield-Kimber is very passionate about. “We realized that each of these buildings could be built out into their own spaces so we could take a scaffolding type of approach to engaging families as their kids grow,” she says.

    As the home of IBM, the Hudson Valley as a whole has the potential to become a hub for science-loving students – particularly those interested in STEM – to further their education. Litchfield-Kimber says that technology companies, schools, and colleges in the Hudson Valley had begun to express concern that they didn’t have a natural space for students to grow, or the resources to attract and encourage students in STEM to stay local, which is where the MHCM’s new campus comes in. “We see a way to contribute to our community in a real regional way that will allow students who are coming up through our pipeline to not feel that to get ahead, they have to leave [the Hudson Valley],” she says.

    Initial concepts for the campus include the transformation of the Hoffman House into a science center for younger children; the Reynolds Building becoming science center for teens and adults that would explore issues at the cross-section of science and society; and the renovation of the MHCM’s Pavilion into a food hub that would also serve as a museum, event space, and culinary center for families.

    “It is not often that a new science center or museum opens its doors, making this potential project a special prospect for the Hudson Valley Region,” said Cristin Dorgelo, President and CEO of the Association of Science-Technology Centers, in a press release distributed by the MHCM. 

    “We’re really excited to see how we can create a canvas that can change up pretty regularly, and also be a hub for really important community conversations,” Litchfield-Kimber says. 

    More information on the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum can be found here.

    Photos courtesy of the Mid-Hudson Children's Museum. Words by Sarah Heikkinen.

  • May 29, 2018 3:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With historic buildings that make up a broad collection of the simplistic architecture of a nearly forgotten religious group, an herb garden and orchard filled with crops grown since the 18th century, and hiking trails across acres and acres of original pastural land, the Watervliet Shaker National Historic District presents a unique opportunity for visitors to gain a deeper appreciation for an often-ignored aspect of American history.

    “You really can equate Shakers with the concept of Americana,” says Starlyn D’Angelo, Executive Director of the Albany Shaker Heritage Society. D’Angelo is currently partnering with the Preservation League of New York State to draw statewide attention to the Shaker Heritage Society and the surrounding historic district. The Shaker’s tremendous influence on American culture, D’Angelo says, is why it’s imperative that the historic district is protected.

    The Shakers

    Formed in England in the early 18th century, the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (known most commonly as The Shakers, a mashup of their original nickname, “The Shaking Quakers”) made their way to the United States in 1774 under the guidance of Mother Ann Lee, the first official leader of the Shaker community. Lee and the small group she led across the Atlantic settled in modern-day Colonie, establishing the first Shaker community in the United States.

    Lee, who joined the Shakers with her parents in 1758, was one among many women revered by the Shakers, whose beliefs did not restrict women from taking leadership roles. In fact, Lee was seen as being the “second coming of Christ” by the community, due to her claims of revelations that would come to inform the core practices of the Shakers.

    Along with their progressive views on gender roles, the Shakers were also known for a wealth of other impressive achievements and for their contributions to American culture. Idyllic American traditions like apple pie and “simple living” were, according to D’Angelo, “really rooted in Shaker culture.”

    The architectural style of the Shakers has had a particularly significant influence on American architecture. Their barns and homes are known for their simplistic and austere design, and though they later took inspiration from Federal style, their simple yet technically perfect furnishings left a lasting impression on American styles.

    Acknowledging and honoring the Shakers’ influence on some of the most deeply ingrained aspects of American society in culture is why D’Angelo is fighting hard to preserve the grand collection of Shaker history the Historic District offers to the Capital Region.

    The Movers

    That’s where the Preservation League comes in. “We’re like MANY for historic preservation,” jokes Erin Tobin, Vice President for Policy and Preservation at the Preservation League.

    Since 1997, the Preservation League, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation in New York State, has been facilitating the preservation of historic sites across the state through their Seven to Save program. In the past, Seven to Save has designated sites like the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, Bent’s Opera House in Medina, NY, and the Kingston Historic Stockade.

    For the 2018-2019 designations, the League is focusing on the preservation of historic districts around New York. According to their website, each of the seven districts listed are in danger of disappearing because of “vacancy, disinvestment, and lack of public awareness.” Its past designees have found success through their partnership with the League, averting demolition, developing plans for reuse, and even securing landmark status.

    So, why the Watervliet Shaker National Historic District? Tobin says the League chose the site because of its significance at the local, state, and national level. “It’s a nationally important place,” she says, which is why they’re listing the entire district, and not just listing the Shaker Heritage Society, located on the Church Family land. The other former Shaker properties included in the designation once belonged to the West and South Families in Colonie and Mount Lebanon, respectively.

    “Part of the designation was meant to enhance its visibility,” Tobin says. The League works closely with its designees to draw attention to the historical importance of each site, strategizing ways to engage the media and local communities. Since the announcement of their partnership in April, Tobin says they’ve had “great press coverage,” with D’Angelo and the Shaker Heritage Society being featured in several different news outlets in the area.

    “We felt that getting statewide attention through the Seven to Save program would really help us clearly articulate the importance of the historic site to the county,” D’Angelo says.

    And on May 15, D’Angelo and the League cohosted a reception to do just that for members of the Albany County legislature and of the Shaker Heritage Society board. Many of the 39 legislators had never been to the site, D’Angelo says. “This is a really great opportunity for us to think about the positives that we’ve accomplished,” she says.

    D’Angelo recalled that one legislator at the reception had been talking about all the repairs that are currently needed for “more important” facilities in Albany County. “I said I understood but that none of those projects could drive economic development like the Shaker site can,” she says. “He was definitely swayed!”

    The Challenges

    However, there are complications that have come up in D’Angelo and the League’s efforts to preserve the district. For instance, the land is leased by the Shaker Heritage Society but has been owned by Albany County since 1925. The terms of land ownership can complicate things when it comes to applying for grants and other funding to maintain the grounds and buildings, says Tobin.

    “Without a long-term lease, they have a hard time getting grants and raising funds,” Tobin says. “Most funders will only give awards if the grant recipient is either the owner of the building and the land, or if they have a long-term lease.” For example, D’Angelo explained that a recent grant the Shaker Heritage Society received from the REDC had to be submitted by Albany County, though the Society wrote the grant proposal.

    “We’re lobbying them for a 50- to 60-year lease of the Church family property,” she says. This long-term lease request may work in the Society and League’s favors, thanks to one of the six new developments coming to the Watervliet Shaker National Historic District.

    Soldier On, a nonprofit organization committed to ending veteran homelessness in the United States, is currently developing a permanent housing village for veterans at the site of the former Ann Lee Nursing Home. Albany County has granted Soldier On a 60-year lease on the land. Tobin says the League is supporting the Shaker Heritage Society in their lobbying of the county to have the same length lease as Soldier On. “It just makes sense,” she says.  

    Aside from Soldier On, five other developments are coming to the historic district, including a soccer complex, multiple apartment buildings, a hotel, and an office building. D’Angelo says she helps provide guidance for the property owners. “We don’t try to stop these projects,” she says. “We prefer to be a partner.”

    This spirit of comradery and partnership is what has kept the Historic District afloat for so long, even when incoming developers operate without the same sensitivity as their peers. Currently, the town of Colonie is undergoing a large amount of renovations; while this does present a potential roadblock for D’Angelo and the Preservation League in their quest to protect the Shaker buildings and artifacts, D’Angelo recognizes that change will continue to come. “Preservation is the most important thing,” she says. 

    Why It Matters

    While there may only be nine original Shaker buildings left on the Church Family site, where the Shaker Heritage Society resides, D’Angelo says that doesn’t put a damper on the importance of preserving the sites. “There’s enough left here to give a sense of what it was like,” she says.

    The rich history of the Shaker community is still seen today through the immaculately cared-for Meeting House at the Albany Shaker Heritage Society, which serves as a museum of Shaker history, a gift shop, and a performance venue – it also happens to be the last large-scale Shaker Meeting House with an intact interior.

    The Historic District not only preserves the unique history of the Shaker community in New York State, but has inspired a number of world-renowned artists. “They influenced everyone from Pablo Picasso to Donald Judd,” D’Angelo says. Composer Aaron Copland was inspired by his discovery of the Shaker tune "Simple Gifts" in an archive; he later modified the music and included it in his famous composition, “Appalachian Spring.”

    D’Angelo says that artists have come to the district and been inspired, even writing music pieces or choreographing dances specifically for the Meeting House. “I really believe there’s something for everybody here,” she says. “There’s so much to offer.”

    What’s most important, however, is simple: the preservation of a deeply significant chapter of American and religious history. D’Angelo says she wishes more people knew about the Shakers’ influence on American culture. “I recognize it’s one aspect of the dominant culture,” she says, “but it’s a really important one.”

    More information on the Albany Shaker Heritage Society can be found here; to learn more about the Preservation League, click here.

    Photos and words by Sarah Heikkinen.

  • May 29, 2018 3:28 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Members of the Capital Region community gathered in Waterford on May 4 for the first of a series of four roundtable programs celebrating the history of the Champlain Canal and the communities who helped build it.

    Organized by Lakes to Locks Passage, Inc., the programs were facilitated to not only raise awareness of the vibrant history of canals in New York, but to encourage museum professionals to collaborate with their communities and develop engaging experiences for visitors. Attendees of the Waterford workshop included local town historians, representatives from the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, and Waterford history buffs.

    “Community Building: The Growth of Canal Communities” was the first roundtable to kick off the series in Waterford, NY, on May 4, 2018. The program featured presentations by Brad Utter, the Senior Historian and Curator for Science and Technological History at the New York State Museum, and Russ VanDervoort, a local historian and president of the Waterford Canal and Towpath Society.

    Utter, whose research and curatorial work at the New York State Museum focuses on the canal system of New York, provided attendees with a comprehensive history of the Erie and Champlain Canals. Showing photos, maps, and newspaper clippings, he explained how the need for canals across New York State had increased by the War of 1812. The state of New York wanted to trade with Western New York and towns and cities bordering the Great Lakes without British interference, Utter said, and also find a means to efficiently transport their troops across the state.

    Brad Utter presenting at the first Lakes to Locks roundtable.

    Pro-canal folks went as far as to claim that supporting the construction of the Champlain Canal was “patriotic,” since it would be ultimately good for the state government. Utter showed excerpts from the Champlain Canal’s Board of Commissioners’ call for Hudson Valley residents of the 19th century to support the construction—they claimed that the Champlain Canal would “enhance the value of the Northern Lands,” going as far to predict that the cities within the Capital Region would unite into one giant city because of the new canal.

    While the Board’s prediction of a mega-city never did come true, their promise of value enhancement certainly did. By the mid 1800s, the Champlain Canal’s reach was significant, with trade routes stretching from Waterford to Vermont. Over 500 tons of merchandise were shipped out of Waterford after the Canal was completed. While local farmers and merchants were initially against the canal’s construction (and for good reason, since the physical toll the canal took on their land was dire in some cases), many of them learned how to work the new waterway to their advantage. Some turned to dairy and fruit farming, sending their products down the canal to Troy.

    The Capital Region also saw an increase in tourism on the Canal, said Utter. Saratoga Springs unsurprisingly benefitted the most, due to the common lore which promoted the idea that the sulfurous waters had “healing properties.” This certainly caught the attention of the wealthy canal travelers, but Utter explained that canal tours were not only catered for the rich and famous. The Northern Tour opened up the floodgates for the poor and middle-class to tour the Champlain Canal—plus, they were cheaper and faster than the tours sent to Saratoga.

    While the pros of the canal were plentiful, there were a few cons that Utter mentioned near the end of his presentation. The physical impact of the construction alone was enough to turn off some Hudson Valley residents, with land being commandeered by the government (in what Utter said was the first major use of imminent domain in the state), farms being split in half by new canal channels, not to mention the sudden appearance of canal robbers and an outbreak of cholera that originated in Montreal, the Champlain Canal’s northernmost pier. Despite its drawbacks, Utter said the Champlain Canal proved its worth to the region by the mid-19th century, building up the communities of towns along the canal, like Waterford.

    While Utter’s presentation told the history of the Champlain Canal, VanDervoort’s recollections of his family’s life on the canal brought the event full circle. Gretel Schueller, the Community Outreach Director for the Lakes to Locks Passage, emphasized how important it is for the Passage to reach out to their community through the roundtables. “We’re telling real stories from real people,” she said.

    Margaret Gibbs, the Heritage Program Director of the Lakes to Locks Passage, explained that they’re encouraging the communities of Waterford and the larger Capital Region to interact with their histories; luckily for Lakes to Locks, that’s exactly what VanDervoort has been doing since he was a child.

    VanDervoort says his family has been tied up with the canal in one way or another since 1807. VanDervoort, who has published two books about his family’s history with the Champlain Canal, regaled the roundtable’s attendees with funny stories about his great-grandfather, affectionately nicknamed “Cap’n Lou,” a tugboat captain who didn’t tolerate bad behavior from his crew members (but did, on occasion, let them run ashore to have a little fun).

    In between stories about his predecessors who lived in a tugboat on the canal year-round, VanDervoort showed then and now photos of the Champlain Canal. Many of the structures that could be seen in the old pictures are long gone now, but VanDervoort was reflective in showcasing the change of landscape in Waterford. He went on to talk about a local historian in the 1950s who had made it his mission to record the stories of canal community members, some of whom were VanDervoort’s family. “I can listen to stories the way they told them,” he said.

    The Lakes to Locks Passage sponsored three other roundtables over the course of the month in Hudson Falls, Schuylerville, and Glens Falls. More information on Lakes to Locks can be found here.

    Photos and words by Sarah Heikkinen.

  • May 29, 2018 12:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    I grew up in New York City playing on blacktop surfaces and walking along rivers bounded by concrete walls. I now live in a 200-year-old farm house on three acres of land adjacent to a “kill,” in a county with a population of less than 160,000 people. Learning the names of plants and trees does not come easily - Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory would place my skill set firmly in the visual-spatial category. Activities that call upon naturalistic intelligence can be a challenge.

    When walking through the Phoenix Desert Botanic Garden during the 2018 AAM conference, someone turned to me and asked, “What is that sound?” I genuinely surprised myself when I quickly responded, “That’s a mourning dove.” It didn’t sound exactly like the mourning doves in my backyard in New York, but it was close. As she and I scanned the trees together to find the bird, we talked of the places we lived and worked and became acquainted with each other and the garden.

    Attending the 2018 AAM conference reminded me how important it is to seek out opportunities for professional development, to listen and learn from colleagues, to be present in rooms where people are sharing their best work, to take to heart the opinions of others, and to hear meaning in the words of someone you don’t know.

    Many of the concurrent sessions, roundtable discussions, and keynote speeches I attended at the 2018 AAM conference in Phoenix centered on the work of AAM’s Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Committee. Those sessions and the committee’s report are a call to action to change the way we recruit and train our staff, work with our communities, and share our exhibitions and collections. No matter the museum in which we work, or the community we call home, it is time to get a bigger table for our meetings - or maybe even move the meeting to a bigger room - to create a place for multiple perspectives when decisions are made in and for our institutions, and to listen to things that may be difficult to hear.

    With the geographic and demographic range of New York State, each museum and community will have to define diversity for themselves. We each need to do our part to represent all of New York’s history, art, and culture within our museum spaces. What we know or don’t know should not impede the process. The collective intelligence of New York’s museum professionals is there to support us. There is no right or wrong way to partner with a community or train an emerging professional if we are responsive and dialogic, listen closely, and create fearlessly together.

    When I left New York City, I knew that every individual’s experience was different from the millions of others that call the city home, but tone deaf to much of the natural world. Patient friends taught me the sounds of the field and the forests. The sessions I attended and museums I visited in Phoenix reminded me that as I have learned to distinguish the song of a mourning dove, whether it looks like the one in my backyard maple or the one perched on a cactus, we all have much to learn from the stories that are told by our colleagues and our museums.  

    Tomorrow, we launch our e-newsletter for MANY members. Each month we will feature original reporting by our Marketing and Social Media Coordinator, Sarah Heikkinen. Her articles will share the work of three MANY member’s programs and achievements with three themes:

    • how museums are growing institutional resources, including welcoming new staff and board members and securing funding for projects;
    • how museums are working with their community and visitors;
    • and how we use our exhibitions and collections in new ways.

    We’re excited to share this newsletter with our members and hope that, if you are not a member, you will consider joining our growing New York State museum community today.

    With thanks,

    Erika Sanger

    Executive Director, MANY

  • May 02, 2018 10:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On April 10, 2018, Suzanne LeBlanc, President of Long Island Children’s Museum (LICM) began her tenure as President of the Museum Association of New York’s (MANY) Board of Directors at their annual conference. LeBlanc is preceded by Robert Cassetti, Senior Director of Creative Services and Marketing at the Corning Museum of Glass. Cassetti served as the president of the Museum Association of New York’s Board for four years.

    LeBlanc brings with her over 40 years of experience in the children’s museum field, having worked in leadership positions at children’s museums in Boston, Brooklyn, and Las Vegas. LeBlanc earned an MA in Counseling Psychology from Lesley College and a BS in Journalism and Photojournalism from the School of Public Communication at Boston University.

    In the 14 years she’s been at the LICM, LeBlanc has been a member of the Community Advisory Council of the Junior League, and a member of the Early Years Institute Advisory Committee. She was also named one of the “50 Most Influential Businesswomen of Long Island” by the Long Island Business News. LeBlanc is a member of the New York State Regents Museum Advisory Council and has served as the Vice President of the Association of Children’s Museums and as President of the Nevada Museums Association.

    Erika Sanger, the Executive Director of MANY, said she is looking forward to working with LeBlanc. “Suzanne’s commitment to diversity in museum content and staffing serves as a model for the field, and her expansive experience at museums and museum associations across the country will benefit all of MANY’s members,” Sanger said.

    LeBlanc has been a member of the MANY Board for six years, acting as the chair of the Governance Committee and serving on the Audit and Finance Committee. On her new tenure as Board President, LeBlanc said, “This is an exciting time in the history of the Museum Association of New York. Working with all the members of the Board, Executive Director Erika Sanger, and MANY staff members Sarah Heikkinen and Rachel Bournique, I hope to help lead the organization to new levels of growth, advocacy, and service delivery.”

    LeBlanc’s previous position as Vice President has been filled by Tom Shannon, Director of Facilities at Dia:Beacon. In addition to his duties as Vice President, Shannon is the chair of MANY’s Programming Committee and serves on the Executive Committee.

    MANY is also welcoming four new museum professionals from across the state to the board: Eliza Kozlowski, the Director of Marketing and Engagement at the George Eastman Museum; Sheila McDaniel, the Deputy Director of Finance and Operations at the Studio Museum in Harlem; Natalie Stetson, the Executive Director of the Erie Canal Museum; and Thomas P. Schuler, the Chief Government Affairs Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    “With 24 board members from the state’s ten economic development regions, MANY’s board represents the full range of the geographic, content, and budget size diversity of New York State’s museums,” Sanger said.

    Beth Levinthal, an Arts Management Consultant and former Secretary of the MANY Board, joined Andrew Saluti, Assistant Professor at the School of Design at Syracuse University and Robert K. Cassetti in retiring from the board after six years of service. Sara Pasti, the Neil C. Trager Director of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, is replacing her as Secretary of the 2018-2019 Board.

    Photo courtesy of Erich Camping, 2018.

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.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

265 River Street
Troy, NY 12180 USA

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software