In Search of the Picturesque at the Adirondack Museum

Nineteenth century armchair travelers and well-to-do American tourists eagerly read published travel guides and narratives, which often featured paintings reproduced as engravings. These images helped advance an artist’s reputation and marketability, and also shaped travelers’ expectations of the Adirondack wilderness. The Adirondack Museum&#8216-s Chief Curator Laura Rice will lead visitors in search of the picturesque through the museum’s paintings, prints, rare maps, and photographs, many of which have never been exhibited during an illustrated program entitled &#8220In Search of the Picturesque: Landscape and Tourism in the Adirondacks, 1820-1880&#8243- at the Adirondack Museum on Monday, July 6, 2009.

The first offering of the season in the Adirondack Museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

Rice will discuss how guidebook authors reinforced visual messages by using painterly language to describe scenes travelers would encounter along a given route. The visual and descriptive imagery promoted the Adirondacks as a public treasure, contributed to a national understanding of wilderness as evidence of God’s hand in creation, and fostered the development of wilderness as a national icon and reflection of the American character.

The Adirondack Museum introduced a new exhibit in 2009, &#8220A &#8216-Wild, Unsettled Country’: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks,&#8221 that showcases paintings, maps, prints, and photographs illustrating the untamed Adirondack wilderness discovered by early cartographers, artists, and photographers.

Laura Rice joined the staff of the Adirondack Museum in 2003. She had previously served as a Curator, Museum Educator, and Consultant at a number of other museums. Ms. Rice holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania in American Civilization with an emphasis on Museum Studies. She is the author of the award-winning book Maryland History in Prints: 1752 &#8211 1900, a history of the state of Maryland based on selected images in the Maryland Historical Society Print Collection.

Photo: Untitled: Wolf Jaw Mountain, by Horace Wolcott Robbins, Jr., 1863.

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