I was in Upstate New York visiting Cooperstown to see the Baseball Hall of Fame and when I finished, I travelled up the road to see the Fenimore Art Museum. What an unique museum packed with interesting art from all aspects of the medium.
The middle level of the museum specialized in early American works and paintings from the Hudson River School. Across the hall was the history of the Cooper family who once owned all the land in the area, developed it to the town known as Cooperstown as a planned community.
The collection dedicated to the Cooper family
The lower level was dedicated to the Thaw Collection of American Indian Art which was pretty extensive. I liked the collection of spiritual masks that could scare away any evil spirit. The collection of small dolls and icons makes you wonder how they if ever captured any spirits. Their collection of clothing was interesting too.
The Thaw Collection
The upper floor was dedicated to a visiting exhibition of block printing by artist ‘Albrecht Durer’ and the lower level featured the photos of the ‘Blue Garden’ by photographers Gross and Daley. ‘Peter Souza’, the photographer of President Obama and President Reagan, showed the contrasts and comparisons of the two presidents. There was a lot to see in one day.
One of the photo’s from the “Blue Gardens” exhibition
The History of the Fenimore Art Museum:
The Fenimore Art Museum originated as the New York State Historical Association, founded in 1899 by New Yorkers who were interested in promoting greater knowledge of the early of the state. They hoped to encourage original research, to educate general audiences by means of lectures and publications to mark places of historic interest with tablets or signs and to start a library and museum to hold manuscripts, paintings and objects associated with the history of the state.
The Fenimore Art Museum
In 1939, Stephen Carlton Clark, offered the organization a new home in the village of Cooperstown, NY. Clark, an avid collector, took an active interest in expanding the holdings of the Association and in 1944 donated Fenimore House, one of his family’s properties, to be used as a new headquarters and museum. The impressive neo-Georgian structure was built in the 1930’s on the site of James Fenimore Cooper’s early 19th century farmhouse on the shore of Otsego Lake, Coopers Glimmerglass.
Fenimore House was large enough to have both extensive galleries as well as an office and library space. The collections and programs continued to expand and a separate library building was constructed in 1968. In 1995, a new 18,000 square foot wing was added to the Fenimore House to accommodate the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection, which is one of the nation’s premier collections of American Indian Art. In 1999 in recognition of our world class collections, we renamed the Fenimore House to the Fenimore Art Museum.
The Collection includes The Thaw Collection of American Indian Art, Fine Art & Folk Art, Photography and the Research Library.
Fenimore Art Museum is dedicated to welcoming and connecting people to our shared cultural heritage through exhibitions and programs that engage that engage, delight and inspire.
(This information comes from the Fenimore Art Museum’s website and I give them full credit for it)
I made a special trip to Beach Haven, NJ recently to visit the NJ Maritime Museum which had gotten some interesting write ups online. The museum covers many aspects of the maritime history of Long Beach Island and the surrounding Jersey Shore and the State of New Jersey.
The NJ Maritime Museum in Beach Haven, NJ
Each of the rooms are packed with pictures, artifacts and explanations of all the events. The front room has a lot of information of ship wrecks, both local and from all over the state.
There is a large story board of the 1916 Shark attacks that inspired the book and movie, “Jaws” including the clippings from the paper and pictures of the cemetery where the victims were buried. It was a very detailed display of the incident.
The front section of the museum is chock full of information
In the back room of the first floor the room is dedicated to the 1934 “Morro Castle” luxury liner disaster where incompetence from the crew and staff lead to the burning of the ocean liner on its way back from Havana to New York at the height of the Depression and twenty years after the Titanic Disaster. The displays included menus, artifacts from the ship, witness accounts and a movie on the disaster being shown in a loop.
Natural disasters are covered as well with storms that have reeked havoc to the Jersey Shore over the last hundred years including the recent Hurricane Sandy which was the perfect storm. The pictures show the disaster that have hit Long Beach Island and the rebuilding over the years.
There is a lot of local history with pictures of the all the luxury resorts that used to be on the island and its role in the development of the area as an early resort town through the railroads as well as the history of the local “Women’s Surf Fishing Club” and pictures of the club members over the years.
The second floor is dedicated to the local Coast Guard history and rooms full of artifacts from local shipwrecks and the history of the local maritime history and fishing industry.
The New Jersey Maritime history is in full display here
For such a small museum, the museum is packed with all sorts of interesting information on the New Jersey Shore line.
The History of the NJ Maritime Museum:
On a 1983 episode of the television program “Prime Time”, Jim O’Brien did a segment on New Jersey Shipwreck Diving, interviewing Bob Yates and Deb Whitecraft. During that interview, Deb spoke of her quest for knowledge about different wrecks and New Jersey maritime disasters. She also stated that she had started collecting this information and other items pertaining to New Jersey Maritime History and that she hope to one day have a place to display her collection. On July, 3rd, 2007, Deb’s lifelong ambition came to fruition when the Museum of New Jersey Maritime History opened its doors.
In the years between the program and the museum opening, Deb actively pursued her quest, working with other New Jersey maritime historians and amassing a sizable collection of shipwreck files and artifacts. This collection comprised almost all of the museum’s material when it opened. In the years since it opened, the museum has grown at amazing rate, thanks to the donations and loans from the diving community and the public in general.
The museum has very detailed displays
Although the museum was built entirely with private funds, it is now a registered non-profit entity and deed restricted to remain so. It operates entirely on donations and is staffed by a small group of dedicated volunteers. The museum is open all year long, Friday through Sunday in the off-season and seven days a week during the summer.
(NJ Maritime Website History)
The NJ Maritime Museum Mission:
The Museum of New Jersey Maritime History Inc. is a museum and research facility organized exclusively for educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. The corporation’s educational purposes include, among other things, providing a facility for the public display of historic maritime artifacts, books and documents. The display of such collections, preserved and exhibited under professional museum standards will encourage maritime research and promote the education of the public about New Jersey’s rich maritime history.
Fee: Adults $22.00/Seniors (over 65) $14.00/Current Students with ID $13.00/Free to Members and Children under 12 accompanied by a parent. Free on Friday Nights from 7:00pm-9:00pm. Discount for people with disabilities $13.00-Caregiver Free.
What I love about the Morgan Library & Museum is the level of sophistication and quality of their exhibitions. The museum really makes you think when you tour their galleries and attend their lectures and gallery talks. Their docents and curators bring an exhibition to a whole new level. I always feel like I am taking a college course and will be graded afterwards. They really make you think about the work or what the author or artist is trying to say.
Two of my favorite exhibitions were the “150th Anniversary Celebration of Alice in Wonderland”, which is why I joined the Morgan Library & Museum. I loved the novel and I wanted to get some ideas for our library’s own celebration. They had the original manuscript written by Lewis Carroll, some original prints and memorabilia from various times including posters, books, artwork and decorative items.
Another wonderful and interesting exhibition was on Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” which was a celebration of her life, her works and of the novel through the ages in both context of the novel and in Hollywood. There were various copies of the books in the exhibition as well as the history of the author’s life.
The Frankenstein print
The exhibition showed the clips of the original silent version of the film, the 1931 version with Boris Karloff and the modern version “Young Frankenstein” with Gene Wilder from 1974. I learned from the exhibition that the set used in the 1974 version of the film was from the original 1931 film and it had been in the director’s basement all those years.
Another exhibition that was very interesting was the recent American artist Al Taylor with an showing of his drawings. The works were unusual but really stood out was his time in Hawaii and the drawings that inspired him.
Duck Bondage Study by Al Taylor
Untitled by Al Taylor
American artist Al Taylor
It is nice to walk among the permanent collection of prints in the lower level and to visit the former private areas of Mr. Morgan’s home. It adds to who he was as a financier and as a homeowner. The home was not as elaborate as you would have thought.
I also enjoy the Morgan Cafe on the main level of the museum in the courtyard area of the first floor. The food is a little pricey and a limited menu but the service is wonderful and the quality of the food is very good. You will enjoy the meal and I have heard from other patrons that the Afternoon Tea is very nice as well.
They also have a Dining Room in the Library area that I have heard is very nice as well.
They have a nice selection of books, cards and gifts in their Gift Shop just beyond The Morgan Dining Room. I really like their selections at the holidays and their theme books to the exhibitions especially for the “Alice in Wonderland” exhibition.
It is a nice place to take a gallery talk, then a light lunch in the main hall and then a lecture at night. It’s a great way to spend the day.
The History of the Morgan Library & Museum:
(from the Morgan Library & Museum website)
The Museum is a complex of buildings in the heart of New York City and began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. As early as 1890, Mr. Morgan had begun to assemble a collection of illuminated, literary and historical manuscripts, early printed books and old master drawings and prints.
Mr. Morgan’s library was built between 1902 and 1906 adjacent to his New York residence at Madison Avenue and 36th Street. Designed by Charles McKim of the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White, the library was intended as something more than a repository of rare materials. Majestic in appearance yet intimate in scale, the structure was to reflect the nature and stature of its holdings.
The result was an Italian Renaissance-style palazzo with three magnificent rooms epitomizing America’s Age of Elegance. Completed three years before McKim’s death, it is considered by many to be his masterpiece. In 1924, eleven years after Mr. Morgan’s passing, his son, J.P. Morgan Jr., known as Jack, realized that the library had become too important to remain in private hands. It what constituted one of the most momentous cultural gifts in the United States history. He fulfilled his father’s dream of making the library and its treasures available to scholars and the public alike by transforming it into a public institution.
Over the years, through purchases and generous gifts, The Morgan Library & Museum has continued to acquire rare materials as well as important music manuscripts, early children’s books, Americana and materials from the twentieth century. Without loosing its decidedly domestic feeling, the Morgan also has expanded its physical space considerably.
In 1928, the Annex building was erected on the corner of Madison Avenue and 36th Street, replacing Pierpont Morgan’s residence. The Annex connected to the original McKim library by means of a gallery. In 1988, Jack Morgan’s former residence, a mid-nineteenth century brownstone on Madison Avenue and 37th Street was added to the complex. The 1991 garden court was constructed as a means to unite the various elements of the Morgan campus.
The largest expansion in the Morgan’s history, adding 75,000 sq ft to the campus was completed in 2006. Designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano, the project increases exhibition space by more than fifty percent and adds more important visitor amenities, including a new performance hall, a welcoming entrance on Madison Avenue, a new cafe and a new restaurant, a shop, a new reading room and collections storage. Piano’s design integrates the Morgan’s three historical buildings with three new modestly scaled steel and glass pavilions. A soaring central court connects the buildings and serves as a gathering place for visitors in the spirit of an Italian piazza.
The Morgan Library & Museum Mission:
The mission of The Morgan Library & Museum is to preserve, build, study, present and interpret a collection of extraordinary quality, in order to stimulate enjoyment, excite the imagination, advance learning and nurture creativity.
A global institution, focused on the European and American traditions, the Morgan houses one of the world’s foremost collections of manuscripts, rare books, music, drawings and ancient and other works of art. These holdings, which represent the legacy of Pierpont Morgan and numerous later benefactors, comprise a unique and dynamic record of civilization as well as an incomparable repository of ideas and of the creative process.
(From the Morgan Library & Museum website and history)
The Prospect Park Zoo is one of my ‘go to’ places along with the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanical Garden when visiting Brooklyn. The three popular destinations are all in the same neighborhood and if you have a full day is worth the subway ride from Manhattan to visit.
On a nice day, the best place to start is the Brooklyn Botanical Garden at opening, then head over through the back part of the garden to Prospect Park and walk to the entrance near Flatbush Avenue and go past the carousel and enter the Zoo past the old Leffert’s Homestead. The Zoo is just past that.
The best part of the Prospect Park Zoo is that like the Central Park Zoo it is small enough to see in one day and be able to enjoy the exhibitions in one afternoon and still have time for lunch.
The main focus of the zoo when you walk through the gates is the seal tanks. These playful animals spend most of their time swimming around or sunning themselves on a warm day. During the feeding schedule, it is interesting to see how they interact with the trainers.
Walking further into the zoo you will walk past the Hall of Animals, where all the smaller animals and amphibians like frogs, snakes and turtles are located. These are a lot of fun for the smaller children who may not see these things in their backyards or even in the parks anymore.
Beyond that is the Barn, where your horses and cows are located and they even have a pair of turkeys, which makes for interesting conversation for children who wonder where they come from at Thanksgiving. The turkeys here are more bred than the wild ones you will see in the woods.
Next to the Hall of Animals is the Animal Lifestyle exhibition where a lot of the gorillas and monkeys are located. It is funny to watch their mannerisms and see ourselves and out behaviors in them. I guess a couple of thousand years never really separated us that much and we still are a lot alike.
From there you will take the Discovery Trail to see more familiar animals that you might see in every day nature such as deer, foxes, porcupines, ducks and geese in a more natural habitat where they can roam free. The space is limited but they look a lot happy to move around than some of the other animals.
All trails lead back to the Seal Tanks where the popular feeding time gathers a crowd and you will see the care that many of the trainers and zoo keepers give to their residents. There is a lot of love for these animals that is given and I can see a lot of respect.
A trip to the snack shop and gift shops at the zoo are expensive and cater to the tourists. They are not as nicely merchandised as the Bronx Zoo or the Central Park Zoo. Still they are fun to visit once or twice.
The Prospect Park Zoo is still a nice afternoon out for families and a nice way to communicate with nature.
The History of the Prospect Park Zoo:
The Prospect Park Zoo is a 12 acre zoo located in Prospect Park, Brooklyn and as of 2016 houses 864 animals. The zoo was originally part of the plan of Prospect Park as a “Zoological Garden” in the western part of the park. The zoo was not part of the finished plan in the park in 1874 by designers Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.
The park design included a Wild Fowl Pond in the northern part of the park that was stop off for water birds and a Deer Paddock in the southern part of the zoo where deer lived in a penned area.
In the 1890’s, gardens were created for park enjoyment and a informal Menagerie was created by the Brooklyn Parks Commission, George V. Brower, when the donation of small bear, white deer, seven seals, a cow and twelve peacocks came into the possession of the park.
In 1934, Parks Department head Robert Moses set a plan to reconstruct the City’s Parks and under the Works Progress Administration started to revamp the park system. In March of that year architect Aymar Embury II set to design the new zoo with six new buildings and centered by a Seal Pool.
By the 1970’s, the zoo faced disrepair and was neglect for the animals. It was considered one of the worst zoo’s in the country according to the press and finally in 1980, the Koch Administration signed a 50 year agreement with the NY Zoological Society, now called the Wildlife Conservation Society, which was also administrating the Central Park and Queens Zoo.
The park closed in 1988 for a five year, 37 million dollar renovation that gutted all the pits and cages but saved the historic buildings and statuary. The new zoo opened in 1993 with a new name, “The Prospect Park Wildlife Conservation Center” and a philosophy of educating children. The zoo along with the Queens Zoo have had some shortfalls in the past but have the full support of the Society and the public since the early 2000’s. Still the zoo remains popular with families from all over Brooklyn and the world.
(This information is provided by Wiki and the Wildlife Conservatory website and I give them both full credit for the information)