By Katharine Morgan CONTRIBUTING WRITER
---- — While museum attendance across the country has been on the decline over the past decade, the Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers Museum both increased their attendance this summer.
Any major league owner will attest that signing popular players increases attendance and ticket sales.
With that in mind, the Fenimore put together a winning line-up this summer, featuring artists like Andrew Wyeth and his family, Susan Fenimore Cooper Weil, the Hudson River Series, and the Native American exhibit, “Splendidly Dressed.”
The Fenimore boasted a 25 percent increase in visitors compared to past seasons, while The Farmers Museum also experienced a heavier attendance than past years.
The world outside of Cooperstown is taking notice. The New York Times recently wrote that the Fenimore houses “a collection any museum in the world should envy.”
Although the museum’s permanent exhibits are well worth a visit, Todd Kenyon, the director of marketing and communications for The Fenimore attributes the swell this summer to visiting collections.
He said the opportunity to see all the Wyeth family’s work together in one location,was a factor in the increase. He also credited the Hudson River School exhibit with bringing in visitors from outside the area.
“People like seeing the Hudson River School paintings here,” he said. “Viewing the environment focused paintings in the same environment in which they were created adds to the whole experience.”
Kenyon said the long term goal of the museum is best expressed on their website, www.fenimoreartmuseum.org.
“We are dedicated to integrating art history and including under-appreciated genres, primarily American Folk Art and American Indian Art, in a broad and progressive American canon.”
Or as Kenyon, put it, “We aim to honor the extraordinary ability of ordinary people to shape American Culture.”
A recent addition to the museum may have helped late summer attendance: The work of late local artist Susan Cooper Weil.
Named for her ancestor, Susan Cooper, the granddaughter of the novelist James Fenimore Cooper, Weil’s exhibit has helped bring in more local visitors.
Although the Farmers’ Museum attendance numbers were not as high, they did increase their attendance this year.
“I took my youngest grandson, Benny, to ride the carousel,” said Lorinda Morgan, of Treadwell. “The New York Sculptures adorning the carousel are spectacular. I took my grandchildren to ride the carousel, and I ended up dragging them out of the old school house.”
Although she has visited myriad museums world wide, Morgan said she has a special place in her heart for her local enclaves, citing the Fenimore and the Farmers’ as two of her favorites.
‘The kids were enthralled, sitting in the desks, stripped of all chances of facebook, tweet, post, text,” she said. “They actually never wanted to leave. Needless to say, what started out as a ride, turned into a true learning experience.”