By Katharine Morgan CONTRIBUTING WRITER
---- — NY State has funded The Fenimore House $74,000 this year to develop its 2014 summer exhibition season.
The money is designated for the summer highlight exhibition, “Winsolw Homer: The Nature and Rhythm of Life,” (June 6-August 24, 2014).
The gift was awarded through Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative, created in 2011 and tuned to re-direct the state’s economic development initiatives from a top-down model to more of a community based, performance-driven effort.
Fenimore Museum’s record breaking attendance last summer was one of the criteria given attention in bestowing this grant. “We are thrilled to be included in this round of REDC awards. These additional funds will allow us to go above and beyond what we could normally achieve, which in turn attracts more visitors to the museum and increases tourism spending in the area,” said Paul S. D’Ambrosio, President and CEO of the New York State Historical Association, (NYSHA) and the Fenimore Art Museum.
Todd Kenyon, director of Marketing and Communications for the Fenimore Art Museum and the Farmers’ Museum, credited the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie for making the exhibit possible.
“They are really fifty percent of this,” Kenyon said. “Without them, we could not do it. It’s really exciting to work with them. They’re a great museum, and it’s nice to have them close by.
“Basically, this money will go to renting the exhibit from the Arkell, shipping fees, and strengthen our program for the exhibition. It will bolster our lectures, including our ‘Food for Thought,’ (lecture and lunch), and help us with exhibition catalogue costs. We’ll also have art cards in conjunction with the exhibition which is more of a touchy-feely thing, giving visitors the chance to not only see the art work but feel the brushes used to paint them,” he continued.
The Arkell Museum’s collection includes 21 of the prolific artist’s paintings. Homer, considered one of the foremost landscape painters in 19th century America, was best known for his marine subjects. The Arkell’s home exhibit features many of Homer’s lesser known works. The Fenimore’s collaborative efforts with the Arkell will give Cooperstown the chance to showcase this unique art exhibit.
“The funds will also enable us to expand our marketing for the museum, drawing visitors from all over. This summer’s exhibit will be a unique opportunity to view Homer as an artist. That’s the draw,” Kenyon said. “The Arquell amassed these paintings years ago, and they include some rarely seen paintings. For example, someone in Albany who is familiar with Homer’s work might consider a visit to the Fenimore worth their while to see paintings they’ve never seen.”
Kenyon said he is delighted to have the exhibit at the Fenimore during the summer months, prime time for visitors to Cooperstown. The REDC’s award is tremendously helpful, providing the Fenimore Museum with the resources to exhibit artwork not usually available to the public.
The Fenimore Art Museum and it’s sister institution, The Farmers’ Museum offer exhibitions and programs throughout most of the year delighting and inspiring locals and visitors alike. Founded in 1945, the Fenimore is NYSA’s showcase museum, housing a wide-ranging collection of American art including:folk art; important American 18th and 19th century landscape, genre, and portrait paintings; an extensive collection of domestic artifacts, more than 125,000 historical photographs, and the renowned Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art. Kenyon has high hopes for the Homer exhibit continuing the tradition of drawing crowds to Cooperstown, “We hope it brings a lot of people here.”
The museum will close it’s doors on Dec. 29 for the season; opening on April 1 for the new season. As for the last days of December, Kenyon recommends a visit, “If you have family around for the holidays and you want to get out of the house, the museum makes a great place to go for a few hours.”'This summer's exhibit will be a unique opportunity to view Homer as an artist. That's the draw.' Todd Kenyon | Director of Marketing and Communications for the Fenimore Art Museum