The following is a listing of current and upcoming exhibitions appearing at the Albany Institute of History & Art from January through May 2011. Dates, times, and details are subject to change. Call (518) 463-4478 or visit www.albanyinstitute.org for more information. [Read more…] about Albany Institute’s Spring 2011 Exhibition Schedule
Albany Institute For History and Art
They may be thousands of years old, but they don’t look a day over 101. In 1908, Samuel W. Brown, a prominent citizen of Albany and member of the Albany Institute of History & Art’s board of directors, was traveling through Cairo, Egypt, where he bought two mummies that he donated to the Institute. Since the day they arrived in Albany in 1909, the mummies and their coffins have become part of Albany history, seen by generations. More than 100 years later they remain objects of ongoing international study, slowly unveiling clues about the ancient world in which they once lived.
On Sunday, November 21, the Albany Institute will celebrate the 101th anniversary of the arrival of the famous Albany Mummies with art activities, stories, tours, and refreshments, all devoted to Albany’s oldest residents.
Children can bring a toy to mummify it in our studios from 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Tours of the Ancient Egypt exhibit will be held at 1:00 and 3:00 pm. Storytelling by Jeannine Laverty will take place at 2:00 pm. Yummy mummy treats will be provided by Gigi’s Treats. All activities are free with museum admission.
For more information contact Barbara Collins, Education Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (518) 463-4478, ext. 405.
Photo: Partially unwrapped mummy, male, Late Dynastic to Early Ptolemaic Period, (525-200 BC). Courtesy Albany Institute of History and Art.
The Albany Institute of History & Art will host two free lectures and book signings in November which look at the city’s past from different perspectives. On Sunday, November 7, 2010, at 2:00 pm Warren Roberts will present “A Place in History: Albany in the Age of Revolution” Then, on Sunday November 14, 2010, at 2:00 pm Robert M. Toole will present “Landscape Gardens on the Hudson, A History”
These lectures are free and open to the public. Admission to the lectures does not include admission to the museum.
In 1998, Warren Roberts took a bicycle ride into the heart of the city in which he had lived for 35 years, beginning a 10-year journey into the history of Albany. Reading about the city’s past, poring over old maps, and returning again and again to the city’s historic sites with a camera, Roberts found that the more he delved into Albany’s history, the more he uncovered about the city’s important role in three larger historical narratives: the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the construction of the Erie Canal. A Place in History examines how the events that unfolded along the Hudson River between 1775 and 1825 saved one revolution, caused another, and transformed Albany and the state of New York.
Landscape gardening is a hidden but unequaled historic resource along the Hudson River, exhibiting some of the most significant designed 19th-century landscapes in America—a legacy that continues today with the design of America’s urban parks and nearly every rural or suburban home. The first comprehensive study of the development of these landscapes, and the important role they played in the cultural underpinnings of the young United States, Landscape Gardens on the Hudson explores the Hudson Valley’s role as the birthplace of American landscape architecture.
Although Albany remains a vital railroad junction, New York’s capital city was once a major hub of the railway industry. Can it become one again? On Sunday, October 24, at 2:00 p.m., the Albany Institute of History & Art welcomes Harvard University Professor John Stilgoe, who will give a lecture entitled, Albany’s Railroads: A Once and Future Hub.
Professor Stilgoe recalls the bustling railroad lines that once converged on Albany, examines how curtailment of passenger and freight service has affected our region, and imagines a visionary railway revitalization that transcends the now-dominant interstate highway network. He holds joint appointments to the Harvard faculties of Design and Arts and Sciences. He is the winner of the Francis Parkman, George Hilton, and Bradford Williams medals, the AIA award for collaborative research, and the Charles C. Eldredge prize for art history research.
This lecture is free and open to the public, and is made possible by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Admission to the lecture does not include museum admission.
The Albany Institute of History & Art has announced two related upcoming exhibitions: “The Perfect Fit: Shoes Tell Stories” and “Old Soles: Three Centuries of Shoes from the Albany Institute’s Collection.” The exhibitions open on October 16, 2010, and close on January 2, 2011.
Since the invention of protective foot coverings by early societies thousands of years ago, shoes have become not only an essential element of our clothing, but also symbols of status, utility, amusement, and art. “The Perfect Fit” features more than 100 examples of fanciful footwear created by contemporary American artists between 2004 and 2008. The shoes are made of materials ranging from clay, metal, fabric, wood, glass, and paper, and transcend everyday style and function to illustrate various themes pertaining to issues of gender, history, sexuality, class, race, and culture.
The exhibition, curated by Wendy Tarlow Kaplan, is organized by the Fuller Craft Museum, Brockton, MA. An illustrated catalog accompanies the exhibition and will be on sale in the Albany Institute’s Museum Shop for $10.00.
Accompanying “The Perfect Fit” will be a complementary exhibition entitled “Old Soles: Three Centuries of Shoes from the Albany Institute’s Collection.” The selection includes a variety of shoes ranging from a pair of brocaded silk women’s wedding shoes from the early 18th century to modern men’s and women’s footwear from the 20th century. The collection also includes protective over-shoes, pattens, slippers, jeweled buckles, work shoes, boots, and more. The Old Soles exhibition will be located in the museum’s Lansing Gallery, in proximity to many historic paintings in which the subjects are wearing shoes similar to those that will be on display.
Photo: Red riding shoes awarded to Miss Catherine Fitch for “Best Equestrian Rider” at the Albany Agricultural Society Fair, September, 1856, Wool felt and leather, 1856,
Gift of Margaret Boom, 1941.45, from Old Soles.
The Albany Institute of History & Art has been selected to receive a 2010 Museums for America grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). The grant is specifically designated to help fund a website redevelopment project entitled, Digital Renaissance, which will evaluate, design, and repurpose the museum’s website so that virtual visitors can experience the rich history and cultural heritage of Albany and the Hudson Valley through the museum’s collections, education programs, and exhibits. The IMLS grant award of $147,904 will provide approximately 40 percent of the total estimated project cost of $369,914.
“It is difficult to overstate the importance of this grant for our museum right now,” said Christine Miles, executive director of the Albany Institute. “In the Information Age, with electronic communication technologies advancing exponentially every day, websites have become an indispensible tool for nonprofit organizations who need to reach much wider and more diverse audiences. This grant will enable us to make the virtual Albany Institute experience as enjoyable and enriching as the on-site experience of visiting the galleries, classrooms, and shop. It will also enhance efforts already underway to digitize our vast collection.”
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Museums for America is IMLS’s largest grant program for museums, providing more than $19 million to support the role of museums in sustaining cultural heritage, supporting lifelong learning; and serving as centers of community engagement. Museums for America grants strengthen a museum’s ability to serve the public more effectively by supporting high-priority activities that advance the institution’s mission and strategic goals.
“This year’s MFA grant recipients are truly an exciting and diverse group of museums, representing the remarkable ways that large and small institutions are serving communities,” said Marsha L. Semmel, IMLS’s acting director, in announcing the award. “Funded projects support digitization and collections management plans, enhanced accessibility, environmental literacy, and much more. The work of these institutions will educate and inspire citizens of all ages. IMLS is pleased to support museums as they engage their communities through programming tailored to their specific needs, and this round of MFA grants furthers this work.”
The Albany Institute’s Digital Renaissance project was one of 178 awards chosen from 510 applications to the 2010 Museums for America program. In total, the program awarded $19.5 million. To learn more about IMLS, visit www.imls.gov.
As part of Digital Renaissance’s evaluation process, the Albany Institute has partnered with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Department of Language, Literature, and Communication. RPI Professor Patricia Search is the principal investigator for the research project and, along with RPI student Natt Phenjati, began formative evaluation phase of the project earlier this year. Launch of the Albany Institute’s new website is scheduled for early 2012.
“This research will help the museum create a dynamic, interactive website that will extend and enrich the total museum experience, particularly in the areas of personal engagement and community involvement,” said Search. “Museums have an opportunity to reach a wide audience with creative, engaging websites. With digital technology it is possible to display additional artifacts from the museum collections that add to the overall understanding of special and permanent exhibits. However, in order to create an effective website, it is necessary to carefully evaluate the demographics, interests, and needs of the people who use the website. The research we’ll be doing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will evaluate how diverse groups of people will use the new website design to access information about the Albany Institute, including their collections, exhibitions, and educational programs.”
One of America’s oldest museums, the Albany Institute of History & Art was founded in 1791, during the presidency of George Washington, making it older than the Louvre, the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This Thursday, July 15, at 6:00 pm, the Albany Institute of History & Art will host a free lecture by Sarah Lees, Associate Curator of European Art at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Lees will discuss The Clark’s current exhibition, Picasso Looks at Degas, which opened on June 13 and will close on September 12.
Picasso Looks at Degas is a fascinating exhibition including work from both artists. The first of its kind to explore the relationship between the two masters, the exhibition mainly focuses on Pablo Picasso’s work made in response to or inspired by the work of Edgar Degas, who was his Parisian neighbor in the early 20th century. Picasso admired Degas, though it is not clear whether the two ever met. The exhibition illustrates how Picasso’s work often echoes imagery and devices typical of Degas without blatantly imitating him. Picasso Looks at Degas traces the development of both artists and includes a broad array of mediums, including paintings, sculptures, and etchings.
The lecture will take place at the Albany Institute, 125 Washington Ave., Albany, and is free and open to the public. Call (518) 463-4478 for more information.
Illustration: Nude Wringing her Hair, 1952, Pablo Picasso, oil on plywood, 154 x 120 cm, private collection, Acquavella Gallery, New York. © 2010 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York.
The Albany Institute of History & Art has announced that it will offer a special discount admission program on Fridays and Saturdays in July and August 2010, as part of an ongoing effort to reach out to members of the Capital District community.
On each Friday in July and August, the Albany Institute will offer free admission to all visitors during regular museum hours, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. There will be no charge for any visitors to enter the museum and see the galleries on these dates: July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30, and August 6, 13, 20, and 27. Additionally, the Institute will offer buy-one-get-one-free admission on Saturdays during July and August during regular museum hours from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Any adult or child visitor purchasing one admission will be entitled to one free admission of equal or lesser value. Buy-one-get-one-free Saturday dates are: July 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 and August 7, 14, 21, and 28.
“We understand, especially in difficult economic times like these, that not everyone is able to include a visit to the Albany Institute in their entertainment and education budgets,” said Chris Miles, Executive Director of the Albany Institute. “However, economic ability should never be a barrier to learning. That’s why we’re thrilled to offer this opportunity for people who might not otherwise be able to see all that the Institute has to offer.”
This program is not available in combination with any other discount or coupon offers and does not apply to group tours, facilities rentals, or special events. For more information about the summer discount admission program, call (518) 463-4478. To learn more about current exhibitions and events, visit www.albanyinstitute.org.
This Saturday June 19th the Albany Institute of History & Art welcomes a new exhibit entitled, Ransoming Mathew Brady: Re-Imagining the Civil War, Recent Paintings by John Ransom Phillips. The exhibit will be on display through Sunday, October 3, 2010.
In a series of 25 vibrant oils and watercolors, Phillips portrays the paradoxes and complexity of the famed 19th-century photographer. Born around 1823 in Warren County, New York, Mathew Brady visited Albany as a young man to seek medical attention for an inflammation of his eyes. While in Albany, he met the portrait painter William Page, who befriended him and encouraged him to become a painter. However, Brady demonstrated great talent in the new medium of photography, and quickly became a sought-after auteur. His iconic portraits of illustrious giants like Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman replaced paintings as the standard means of documenting the image of notable public figures. Lincoln and Whitman figure prominently into Phillips’s paintings.
“Whitman, who served in a hospital as a nurse for the war wounded, said the Civil War could never be portrayed because it was just too horrible; it was beyond human capacity to understand,” Phillips says. “Yet Whitman, like Brady, attempted to do so.”
At the peak of his success, Brady chose to move his profession to the field of war, a decision that would ultimately cost him, psychologically and financially. At the Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, Brady was lost in the woods for three days and was nearly captured by Confederate troops. Although his images of the battle would become legendary as the first photographic depictions of war, Brady was badly shaken by the death, destruction, and violence he encountered in the field. Thereafter, he hired teams of photographers to work under his direction, unable to stomach the carnage that would be wrought in the years of fighting to come. As a result, many of the famous Civil War images attributed to Brady were actually taken by his employees.
“Brady in many ways reminds me of Andy Warhol,” Phillips said. “There are a lot of interesting parallels between the two artists. Both had huge studios in New York, on Union Square, not too far from each other. They occupied a similar geography. They also each hired about 50 to 60 people who would prepare the sitter or scene for a depiction. Both were uncomfortable with human feelings and poured their passion into celebrities,” Phillips said.
Plagued by vision problems throughout his life, Brady wore dark blue glasses to protect his eyes, and also employed blue-tinted skylights in his studios, for effect in his portraits but possibly to provide additional protection for his eyes. Many of the paintings in the Ransoming Mathew Brady series reflect this condition through the prominent use of the color blue. Heavily in debt when the post-war government declined to purchase his Civil War images, Brady died broke and virtually blind in the charity ward of a New York City hospital in 1896.
Phillips says he was inspired by Brady’s ability to reinvent himself, at a time when doing so was unorthodox. “Today, a lot of artists, and in fact people in all aspects of life, are very interested in reinventing themselves,” he says. “Mathew Brady was very much ahead of his time in this regard. He was an accomplished celebrity photographer in the studio, who then became known for battlefield photography.”
In his book-length essay in the illustrated 244-page catalog that accompanies the exhibit—Ransoming Mathew Brady (Hudson Hills Press, 2010)—photography expert and Yale professor Alan Trachtenberg writes, “Ransoming Mathew Brady tells a story at once sensuous and cerebral, esoteric yet enticing. An intellectual discourse in paint and words, this extraordinary cumulative work by John Ransom Phillips fits no existing genre (history painting may come closest). It’s an essay on history, on vision and blindness, on violence, on color and space, on death and rebirth. It asks from its viewers/readers not only eyes wide open but a heart willing to take on such immensity.” The catalog will be on sale in the Albany Institute’s Museum Shop.
John Ransom Phillips’s work has been exhibited internationally at the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art in Chicago, the Museo de Arte Moderno in Buenos Aires, and the Heidi Cho Gallery in New York. He has been a faculty member of the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and Reed College in Portland, Oregon. He has a Ph.D. in the history of culture from the University of Chicago.
The Albany Institute exhibition will be complemented by a concurrent exhibition of Phillips’s work, entitled, Ransoming Mathew Brady: Searching for Celebrity, at the Opalka Gallery of the Sage Colleges in Albany. For more information about the Opalka exhibit, visit www.sage.edu/opalka or call (518) 292-7742.
Illustration: Photographing You, John Ransom Phillips, 2006, oil on canvas, 28 in. x 26 in.
The Albany Institute of History & Art has announced its summer art programming schedule for children and families. Programs are designed to offer children and their adult companions an opportunity to experience a wide range of artistic workshops and creativity-based lessons, experienced in combination with the museum’s current exhibits and collections. Programs to be offered are as follows:
THREE-DAY ART CAMPS
9:00 a.m.–noon (ages 6–8), 1:00–4:00 p.m. (ages 9–11)
Students will deepen their engagement in the artistic process and share their creations on the third day of the workshop at a show of the students’ work. Classes are taught by a NYS certified art educator. Program fee of $60 for non-members and $45 for members includes materials and museum admission for all three days.
June 29, 30, and July 1: Masterpiece Puppet Theater—Create an original puppet show with your own marionettes.
August 31, September 1 and 2: Art That Goes—Use art and objects related to transportation as inspiration for your own work.
THE ’TUTE FOR TOTS
Wednesdays through July and August, 10:00–11:30 am (ages 3–5)
An inspiring setting gives preschool children and their adult companions a chance to become familiar with the museum and explore and grow through art. Gallery visits are followed by an art activity in our studio. Workshops last one-and-a-half hours and are taught by a NYS certified art educator. Program fee: $5 per person for non-members or $4 per person for members.
July 7–Fishy Drawings
July 14–Resist Painting
July 21–Textures and Shapes
July 28–Funny Faces Sculptures
August 4–Popsicle Stick Buildings.
August 11–Animal Collage
August 18–Vegetable Growth Cycles Book
August 25–Landscape Collage
SUMMER IN THE CITY
Wednesdays through July and August, 1:00–4:00 p.m. (ages 12–15)
Experience the art of Albany. Instructors will lead neighborhood walks to examine shape, color, pattern, texture, and architecture. Use a variety of materials to create a collage inspired by the landscape design of Washington Park. Classes are taught by a NYS certified art educator. A fee of $20 per class for non-members and $15 for members per class includes materials and museum admission. Great for home school students.
July 7–One-Point Perspective Drawings
July 14–Watercolor Facades
July 21–Collagraph Building Prints
July 28–Ceramic Gargoyle Faces
August 4–Tunnel Book Cities
August 11–One Picture, Many Media
August 18–Botanical Brown Bag Books
August 25–Landscape Collage
THURSDAY ART WORKSHOPS
Through July and August, 9:00 a.m.–noon (ages 6–8); 1:00–4:00 p.m. (ages 9–11)
Emphasizing fine art techniques, materials and vocabulary, children will experience inspiration and the many ways in which artists work. Classes are taught by a NYS certified art educator. A fee of $20 per class for non-members and $15 for members per class includes materials and museum admission.
July 8–Creating Mystery Creatures
July 22–Fabric Collage Totes
July 29–Textured Tessellations
August 5–My Fantastic Room
August 12–Photography: Making the New Old
August 19–Botanical Brown Bag Books
August 26–Narrative Collage
More information and online registration is available through the Albany Institute’s website at www.albanyinstitute.org. Public requests for additional information should be addressed to Barbara Collins, Education Coordinator, (518) 463-4478, ext. 405; email@example.com.