By Michelle Miller
---- — Cooperstown becomes somewhat of a “ghost town” during the winter months, with several businesses and area attractions closed for the season. However, now is that time of year again when things begin to liven up.
The Fenimore Art Museum opened its doors to visitors on Saturday, and although The Farmers’ Museum has limited offerings, that too is now open.
Todd Kenyon, public relations manager for the museums, said although most programs will not kick off at The Farmers’ Museum until May, this is a good time of year to make a visit because baby animals are being born. “The Pickup Truck, America’s Driving Force” exhibit will open on Memorial Day Weekend and run through October 31, Kenyon added.
According to a media release, the exhibition follows the route of the pickup truck from its beginnings.
The Fenimore Art Museum’s season will build on the strengths of the museum’s collections of American fine art, folk art and American Indian art. It will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays from Saturday to May 12, when it will be open daily.
Exhibits that are open include:
• “American Masters: Thomas Cole to Grandma Moses,” running through June 2 and Oct. 19 to Dec. 29. The display will present a wide range of works from the museum’s permanent collection.
• “Splendidly Dressed: American Indian Robes and Regalia,” on display through Dec. 29, will feature examples of dress, footwear, hairstyles, headgear, jewelry and accessories from the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art.
• “Native Roots: The Ninth Contemporary Iroquois Art Biennial,” through July 21, showcasing the best of Iroquois artists in New York state.
• “Forging Perfection: Masterworks from The Farmers’ Museum Blacksmith Shop,” running through Dec. 29, showing pieces created at the shop for the past 20 years.
• “Places in Passing: Contemporary Landscapes by Susan Jones Kenyon,” on display through Dec. 29, featuring atmospheric paintings of Cooperstown’s Otsego Lake and the surrounding region by the contemporary landscape artist.
Forthcoming exhibits include:
• “The Wyeths: A Family Legacy,” appearing May 25 through Sept. 2. The show will feature works of Howard Pyle and the Wyeth family — N.C., Andrew, James, Carolyn, Henriette and Henriette’s husband, Peter Hurd. The Wyeths influenced each others’ techniques, media and subject matter, the release said, and have taught each other across generations. The artistic family was inspired by teacher and illustrator Howard Pyle.
• “The Hudson River School: Nature and the American Vision,” running June 29 through Sept. 29. This display will highlight 19th-century Hudson River School artists and will explore landscape painting as a “powerful narrative device that embodied ideas about nature and culture in a rapidly changing country,” the release said. Works by Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Cole, Frederic Church and others will provide a look at this group of artists. Iconic works will be featured, including Thomas Cole’s five-part series, “The Course of Empire,” and other masterworks by Cole, John F. Kensett, Albert Bierstadt, Jasper F. Cropsey and Asher B. Durand, the release said.
With this year’s Festival of the American Romantics, the Fenimore Art Museum, The Glimmerglass Festival, Hyde Hall and The Farmers’ Museum are expanding on their collaboration of the last few years.
“We will be creating programming that builds on each other’s strengths and creates deeper ties to the beautiful countryside of Otsego County,” Kenyon said.
One of the first activities of the collaboration was a joint training program held in at the Fenimore Art Museum. The training session featured presentations by the president of the New York State Historical Association, the artistic and general director of The Glimmerglass Festival and the executive director of Hyde Hall, each speaking on their institution’s upcoming season. David Schyuler of Franklin and Marshall College also spoke about the Romantic Movement in 19th Century America.
The Festival of the American Romantics will combine exhibition of period art, literature and music inspired by Romantic composers, painters and writers. For more information, visit http://glimmerglass.org/the-festival/festival-american-romantics/. A full schedule should be coming soon.
According to Kenyon, there has been a push to market more locally for quite some time, but there has been more of a push in the Albany area through radio advertisements and things of that nature. He said last year’s attendance for the museums was up 5.6 percent compared to the season before.
“That is not the norm for most museums throughout the country,” Kenyon said.
“When the economy goes into a downturn, it affects everyone. And the economy has been in a rut for a while it seems now,” he added.
Kenyon said he believes the grants the museums offer help get more schools to visit.
“Every little bit helps,” he said.
Roughly 60 percent of the Fenimore Art Museum’s visitations come from a 60- to 90-mile radius, according to Kenyon.
“We rely heavily on the local and regional population, maybe even more so at The Farmers’ Museum,” he said.
“There, we generally get an upwards of 70 percent from the same radius,” Kenyon continued.
Adding new exhibits and programs are not the only things key to the museums’ success, according to Kenyon. He said the goal is to continue to improve on annual events each year as well.
The Fenimore Art Museum will begin its lunch-and-lecture series “Food for Thought” programs on April 10. All the programs are held on Wednesdays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the museum. For more information, visit http://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/fenimore/programs/lectures.
Beginning April 13, The Farmers’ Museum offers spring workshops on topics ranging from cooking over the open fire to blacksmithing. All workshops are held at the museum and registration is required. For more information, visit FarmersMuseum.org or call 547-1450 ext. 461.
Children can experience week-long hands-on programming at The Farmers’ Museum during the summer months. A competitive apprenticeship program in which young people work side-by-side with museum staff members is also offered through The Young Interpreter Program.