Cooperstown’s old movie theater, Smalley’s Theatre, is getting an extended run.
The “Smalley’s: Lights, Camera, Cooperstown!” exhibit opened yesterday at the New York State Historical Library, next to the Fenimore Art Museum, and will run until May 2016.
The Cooperstown Graduate Program, one of the leading museum training grounds in the country, contributed support to the exhibit, including three graduating students who played a big part in the show. Eric Feingold was the team leader for fellow students Cassie Cavanaugh and Liz Congdon.
All three students graduate from the CGP program on Saturday, and are responsible for curating and producing this exhibit.
The display will include be a collection of the records of Smalley Theatres, Inc., accumulated at its home office in Cooperstown, N.Y., from 1912 to 1955. The daily and weekly statements, which constitute a significant portion of the records, were collected from the theaters in Camden, Cooperstown, Delhi, Dolgeville, Fort Plain, Hensonville, Johnstown, Norwich, Oxford, Sharon Springs, Sidney, St. Johnsville, Stamford, and Walton, before coming to the home office.
The papers give excellent detail on attendance and box office receipts for films shown at each location. Financial documents are extensive (particularly account books), as is correspondence. The latter supplies much evidence on the importance of film distribution to a movie theater chain, among other subjects. Additional records of note include photographs (especially publicity shots of film stars), documentation of legal cases, programs, and lists of free passes provided to prominent local individuals.
Feingold, described the display as three pronged.
“First, we wanted to connect popular entertainment with coming to Cooperstown in 1921,” he said. “Second we wanted to show that Smalley’s was more than a town theater, it was a community center. And third, we wanted to show how the community of Cooperstown is trying to revive film. For example, the Glimmerglass for the first time, showed films last year.”