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Welcome to the Member News page! This feature of the MANY website is a resource open to our active members to share news from their museums or cultural institutions in New York State. All members are encouraged to share their stories and update the MANY community on any exciting developments occurring at their organizations. For instructions on how to post, along with our Member News Guidelines, click here

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  • May 16, 2018 2:45 PM | Stephanie Shultes

    “Tonto, Teepees & Totem Poles: Considering Native American Stereotypes in the 21st Century” opened on April 5, 2018.  Developed and presented by the Iroquois Indian Museum (Howes Cave, NY), the exhibit with accompanying special programs and activities runs through Nov 30, 2018. “Tonto, Teepees & Totem Poles” is a multi-faceted response to the cultural misconceptions surrounding Native American people that persist in North America today. 

    Once the subject of literary fantasy and frontier adventure, Native people have long been cast in mythical caricature. While many of the damaging and degrading stereotypes of the 1940's and 50's about Native people have largely disappeared, new and equally distorted stereotypes have become increasingly prevalent.  Popular culture and the fashion, sports, and entertainment industries create and promote stereotypes both positive and negative.  Most are generated and perpetuated by non-natives, but ironically, these inaccurate generalizations have, and continue to be propagated within Indigenous communities as well. 

    Through objects from the Iroquois Museum's collection, advertising, and film footage, the exhibit examines the origins and repercussions of these stereotypes.  These and other artifacts of popular culture frame First Nations individuals as noble warrior, indian princess, mystical shaman, exotic oddity or vestige of an all but vanished race.  The exhibit contrasts these stereotypes and misconceptions with Iroquois and other First Nations art created specifically in response to this complex and divisive issue.  From New Mexico, Wisconsin, New York, and Ontario these creative declarations offer a thoughtful, challenging, and at times humorous counterbalance to the exhibit’s narrative. 

    Participants include artists Shelley Niro (Mohawk); Peter B. Jones (Onondaga), Marion Snow (Mohawk); Cannupa Hanska Luger (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota), Karen Ann Hoffman (Oneida), Frank Buffalo Hyde (Onondaga) & Courtney Leonard (Shinnecock); Eric Gansworth (Onondaga); Tom Huff (Seneca-Cayuga), Linley Logan (Seneca); Natasha Smoke Santiago (Mohawk) and others. Tonto, Teepees, & Totem Poles is supported in part by an Action Grant from Humanities New York.

    About the Museum

    The Iroquois Indian Museum (IIM) is an educational institution dedicated to fostering an understanding and appreciation for Iroquois/Haudenosaunee culture using Iroquois art as a window to that culture. Established in 1981, the IIM is a venue for promoting Iroquois art and artists and a setting for all peoples to celebrate and engage with Iroquois culture and diversity. 

    Housed in a modern building architecturally and symbolically inspired by a longhouse, the IIM introduces the public to the rich complexities of Iroquois culture through thoughtful permanent and changing exhibitions; performances in a covered outdoor amphitheatre; two 19th C Iroquois log homes; interactive discovery area; school programs; performing and visual arts demonstrations, workshops; and festivals.

    Submitted by Colette Lemmon, Curator of Exhibitions

  • May 15, 2018 11:50 AM | David Gerber


    “There’s a museum about that?” is a question we sometimes get when telling people about the Museum of disAbility History, on line                        at http:// museum of disability.org/ and in our building at 3826 Main Street in Amherst, New York. A twenty year old project of People Inc., the largest disability service provider in Western New York, the museum was founded to spread understanding of disabilities and the lives of people who possess them. It is the only brick and mortar museum dedicated to the history of disability in the United States.

    Disability has a long, complicated history, and it has been our task to interpret the wide, frequently changing variety of understandings over time in Western societies of what has been regarded as the normal body and mind.  The peculiar spelling of “disAbility” in our title projects these hopes: it is intended to suggest what society has come increasingly to understand in recent decades: given the opportunity to participate, people with disabilities bring many abilities that are socially useful. All museums have purposes. Ours also has a mission.

    The museum occupies much of the ground floor of a building dedicated to People Inc.’s training program, and has exhibits largely consisting of tall panels with explanatory texts and illustrations and of material artifacts. We also have an expanding archive and a small reference library in the basement of our facility, which have been of use to students and academic researchers. Members of the general public have consulted these collections, which are useful, for example, in tracking family and friends who were once institutionalized in now closed state institutions and perhaps buried in unmarked graves on the site of those facilities.

    The range of artifacts in a museum dedicated to disability may be predictable on first reflection. Viewers expect artificial arms and legs, crutches and wheelchairs,breakfast cereal boxes with photos of disabled athletes, and television and movie promotions featuring cast members with disabilities. But a recent acquisition may be more of a surprise. It tells complex and engaging stories.

    The New York State Museum mounted an exhibit, The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from A State Hospital in 2004 based on the unique artifacts found at Willard State Hospital, a New York State institution established in 1869 for those diagnosed with psychological illnesses. After Willard closed in 1995, 427 suitcases belonging to those who were resident were found in the vast, long sealed attic. The contents of the 27 suitcases that have been investigated tell poignant personal stories, and illuminate the random processes by which people ended up in such institutions. 

    With support from the van Ameringen and the Nathan Cummings foundations, a 1500 square foot travelling suitcase exhibit was created in 2004, and it toured the country, going to 30 venues in 11 different states, before it came to reside at the Museum of disAbility History.

    “Where are the suitcases?’ we are frequently asked by visitors, who have the craving for authenticity familiar to those who work in museums,  They were in the possession of the New York State Museum, which wasn’t going to further display them, but felt legally bound to keep them from further display. After protracted negotiations, involving legal issues touching on privacy and ownership, we have managed with the needed permission of a surviving relative to take possession of the suitcase of Lawrence Mocha. An immigrant from Austria-Hungary, born in 1878 and committed to Willard in 1916, where he resided until his death in 1968, He may have suffered a traumatic brain injury before immigrating, but he was symptom free sufficiently to have been admitted into the United States by immigration officers in 1907. Mocha defies the usual stereotypes about those institutionalized for mental illness. Whatever problems ultimately led him at a certain point in his life to go to Willard, while resident there he carved out an almost independent life for himself as the institution’s much needed cemetery-keeper. He lived on his own in a small house on the grounds, going to meals in the kitchen when he pleased. He was eccentric, but hardly detached from reality, or difficult to get along with.

    Mocha’s life after coming to Willard was not that different than many other of its institutionalized people. He got used to living there, and his needs were provided for as they were not reliably on the outside. Like many immigrants – and the foreign-born constituted a disproportional percentage of the institutionalized population – his networks of personal support may well have been fragile or nonexistent. While New York State provided a solution to the problems he had in living independently, like other residents his dignity was preserved to the extent he worked on the grounds, assisting in the maintenance of the complex community that Willard supported. After being there many years, Mocha petitioned to leave, but was denied, perhaps on the basis of doubts that he could live on his own after being provided for so long. It is also said that the authorities recognized that his labor in maintaining the cemetery was needed.

    The stories of Mocha and nine other individuals who were the basis of our suitcases exhibit are found in Darby Penney and Peter Stastny, The Lives They Left Behind (2008). Stories of this sort are ones that the Museum of disAbility History is dedicated to telling. Stop in; you’ll be surprised.

    David Gerber, Chair, Board of Trustees, Museum of disAbility History


  • May 14, 2018 11:09 AM | Emily O'Leary

    Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale is pleased to announce Jerusalem Between Heaven and Earth, jointly organized with the Jewish Art Salon and guest curator Ori Z. Soltes for the 2017 Jerusalem Biennale, which will be on view at the Derfner Judaica Museum through May 27, 2018. (The exhibition catalogue may be read here.)

    The Jewish Art Salon’s exhibition was one of 26 exhibitions and projects from around the world that occupied multiple venues in Jerusalem this past fall. The Derfner Judaica Museum is honored to bring this exhibition to New York. Jerusalem Between Heaven and Earth includes 34 works by 30 artists who explore this year’s Biennale theme of “watershed.” According to Ram Ozeri, its Director and Founder, “The Jerusalem Biennale provides a stage for professional artists—from secular to ultra-Orthodox—who refer in their artwork to Jewish thought, spirit, tradition or experience.” The recent Biennale threw “a spotlight onto the concept of watershed, examining it from a literal, metaphorical and even historical perspective,” he elaborated. “The theme finds its expression in issues as varied as Jewish identity, immigration and refugees, alongside watershed moments in history. . . . Both in Hebrew (kav parashat hamayim) and in English, watershed is used to describe an important turning point—an event that changed the course of history.”

    Ori Z. Soltes has taken the watershed theme and interpreted it with his selection of works by artists from the US, Israel, the UK and the Netherlands. According to Soltes, “A watershed yields a branching, be it of physical terrain, historical events or spiritual and aesthetic concepts. Such an idea is particularly powerful in conjunction with the city of Jerusalem” where “the spiritual foundations. . . branch in three Abrahamic directions. . . .”

    Watershed ideas extend from Jerusalem’s topography to moments that shape history and thought—to contemporary aesthetics and politics. In the exhibition, paintings by Tobi Kahn and a video by Leah Caroline and Jeremy S-Horseman offer abstract suggestions of the geological watershed that helps define Jerusalem. In her video, Sarah Lightman turns that topography inward toward life’s profound watershed moments.

    Joel Silverstein’s painting Promised Land—here the beach at Coney Island—is a reference to biblical Israel and to the American Jewish immigrant experience. Richard McBee’s painting Exodus Redux suggests watershed moments of the biblical Exodus that pushed the Israelites toward Sinai and from there toward Jerusalem and the building of Solomon’s Temple. Solomon is traditionally discussed as the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, explored in Ellen Holzblatt’s paintings. Gabriela Boros considers the watershed warnings to the Israelite-Judeans by the Prophet Isaiah. The universal message of the Book of Jonah is the focus of Yona Verwer and Katarzyna Kozera, of Jan Lauren Greenfeld and of Alan Hobscheid. The tradition of rabbinic commentary is encountered through works by Rachel Kanter, Beth Krensky and Ben Schachter. From there the mystical strains of Judaism emerge in Susan Schwalb’s small, tight abstractions. In Carol Buchman’s work the mystical and geological become panentheistic: the Name of God suffuses nature.

    Away from the sacred city, Jewish history and thought seek a return to Jerusalem—particularly at harsh watershed diaspora moments. Mark Podwal’s 1492 references the Expulsion from Spain; Billha Zussman imagines how that external watershed has internal consequences; Archie Rand offers cutting edge—watershed—visual references to the Shoah or Holocaust.

    Jerusalem also reaches into Islam and Christianity. Siona Benjamin’s work reflects her background as a Jewish woman from predominantly Hindu and Muslim India, now living in the US. In Exodus #5, one from a series of paintings that considers the current wide-spread refugee crisis, she interweaves that issue with an exploration of how PaRDeS (as a Jewish, and particularly a Jewish mystical concept) intersects the equivalent Islamic concept of Jannat. In her abstract monoprint, Miriam Stern reimagines the Christian vision of the Hebrew Bible depicted in the Morgan Library’s 14th-century French illuminated manuscript known as the Crusader Bible.

    Contemporary Jerusalem offers Aviva Shemer’s installation of suspended Hebrew, Arabic and Latin (English) letters, inspired by Martin Buber’s discussion of Jerusalem as a center of Am ve’Olam (A People and the World); Jane Logemann’s frenetic Hebrew and Arabic repetitions of the word “water” transform into abstract images. In her painting, Leah Raab imagines the Valley of Tears, the site of a massive assault in the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War. In two photographs, Dorit Jordan Dotan focuses on the crisis of Israeli-Palestinian water-sharing and the geological processes at work separating water from salt at the Atlit salt flats. Bruria Finkel turns the issue of potable and salt water back toward the geology of Jerusalem. Yehudis Barmatz-Harris turns water to fire as history moves back from the crucible of Jerusalem’s return to Jewish hands to the purification process of the Israelites in the wilderness and the burning of the Red Heifer. Pamela Fingerhut returns viewers to the moment when Moses is placed in the Nile, in this case by a modern day Miriam. Elaine Langermann’s mixed media work, Poem/Painting #11—“Watershed,” combines image and text to ask what art is and where we move forward, intersecting the questions: what is Jewish art? And what is Judaism? Both of these are suffused by questions—like the city of Jerusalem itself.

    About the curator          

    Ori Z. Soltes teaches theology, philosophy and art history at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. For seven years, Dr. Soltes was Director and Chief Curator of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum, where he created over 80 exhibitions focusing on aspects of history, ethnography and contemporary art. He has also curated diverse contemporary and historical art exhibitions at other sites, nationally and internationally. As Director of the National Jewish Museum he co-founded the Holocaust Art Restitution Project and has spent nearly 20 years researching and consulting on the issue of Nazi-plundered art.

    Dr. Soltes has lectured at dozens of museums across the country, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He has been interviewed for a score of programs on archaeological, religious, art, literary and historical topics on CNN, the History Channel and Discovery Channel. Nearly 250 publications—books, articles and catalogue essays—have included, among others: Tradition and Transformation: Three Millennia of Jewish Art and Architecture and Fixing the World: Jewish American Painters in the Twentieth Century. OriZSoltes.com

    About Jewish Art Salon 

    The Jewish Art Salon is the largest, most-recognized Jewish visual art organization in the world. It is a global network of contemporary Jewish art. The Salon provides important programs and resources, and develops lasting partnerships with the international art community and the general public.

    The Jewish Art Salon presents public events in the US and Israel, and produces art projects with international art institutions. Since 2008 the Jewish Art Salon has organized dozens of art exhibits and events exploring Jewish themes, related to current issues. In the New York area it hosts occasional salon sessions with international artists and scholars. JewishArtSalon.org

    About Hebrew Home at Riverdale

    As a member of the American Alliance of Museums, Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Health is committed to publicly exhibiting its art collection throughout its 32-acre campus including the Derfner Judaica Museum and a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. The Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection provides educational and cultural programming for residents of the Hebrew Home, their families, and the general public from throughout New York City, its surrounding suburbs, and visitors from elsewhere. RiverSpring Health is a nonprofit, non-sectarian geriatric organization serving more than 12,000 older adults in greater New York through its resources and community service programs. Museum hours: Sunday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Art Collection and grounds open daily, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Call 718.581.1596 for holiday hours and to schedule group tours, or for further information, visit our website at RiverSpringHealth.org/art

    This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

  • May 11, 2018 10:33 AM | Samantha Hall-Saladino
    Calling all history buffs and trivia lovers! The Albany County Historical Association, Rensselaer County Historical Society, and Schenectady County Historical Society are hosting the first ever Tri-County Trivia Tournament on Tuesday, June 5th at 6:30pm at the Joseph E. Zaloga American Legion Post 1520 at 4 Everett Rd. in Albany. Our trivia master is Cordell Reaves, Historic Interpretation and Preservation Analyst for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. 

    Pre-registration is required and space is limited. Register individually and be matched with a team or get a group of friends together and register as a team (up to 6 people). Win prizes! Don't want to play? Come and cheer on your county champions in the spectator section! Cash bar and food available for purchase. 

    Tickets are $25 per person or $125 per team. This event is a fundraiser for the three organizations. Purchase your tickets and register your team here!

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