NYS Museum Opens 1609′- Exhibit

As part of the celebration of the 2009 Hudson-Champlain Quadricentennial celebration, the New York State Office of Cultural Education (OCE) will present at the New York State Museum the exhibition “1609,” which will re-examine Henry Hudson’s voyage, the myths that surround it, and explore the legacies of Hudson’s unexpected discovery. The State Museum, State Archives, State Library and State Office of Educational Broadcasting, which make up OCE, are collaborating on the “1609” exhibition. It opened yesterday, July 3, 2009, and will run until March 7, 2010 in the Museum’s Exhibition Hall.

The “1609” exhibition is presented in four parts. The first section focuses on what life was like for both the Dutch and Native Peoples of New York before 1609 and the events of that year. The visitor will then look at the myths that Hudson planned to come here, and that Native Americans greeted him and his crew with joy and awe. The exhibition will attempt to dispel those myths and explore with the visitor what is known about Hudson and the 1609 voyage and the Native American response. The third section confronts the myths relating to the short-term impact of the voyage – the consequences for the Dutch and the Native Americans. Finally, the visitor will be able to examine the long-term legacy of the Native Americans and Dutch, and how they affected subsequent historical events and American culture today.

Highlighting the important role that the Hudson River played in Hudson’s discovery and in the everyday lives of the Native Americans he encountered, visitors entering the gallery will see the illusion of running water. An outline of the Halve Maen (Half Moon) that carried Hudson to the new world, and fast facts about the ship, will be stenciled onto the gallery floor. The exhibition will also feature many historic drawings, maps and paintings, including some by Capital District expert historical artist L.F. Tantillo.

There will be many touchable objects and a reading area to engage the youngest visitors. Artifacts on display will include an elaborately decorated c. 1700 “Armada Chest” or strongbox, a classic type of chest or portable safe similar to what Henry Hudson most likely had in his quarters on the Half Moon- a dugout canoe recovered from Glass Lake in Rensselaer County similar to those used by Native Americans in the 17th century- a bronze cannon cast for the Dutch West India Company (1604-1661) used at or near Fort Orange and a stained glass window bearing the Coat of Arms of “Jan Baptist van Renssilaer,” patron of the Manor of Rensselaerswyck in the 1650s. A large 1611 etching of the Port of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, courtesy of the Amsterdam Municipal Archives, also will hang in the gallery.

Many of the maps and other 17th-century Dutch colonial documents in the exhibition are from the collections of the New York State Library and the State Archives and will be located in a separate room where lighting is carefully controlled. The New Netherland Project, a program of the State Library, has been working since 1974 to translate and publish these archival records.

Archaeologist James Bradley, an expert on Native Americans, and Russell Shorto, an authority on colonial Dutch history, have written text for the exhibition. Bradley is the author of “Before Albany: An Archaeology of Native-Dutch Relations in the Capital Region 1600-1664,” and a guest curator for portions of the exhibition. Shorto, who resides in the Netherlands, authored “The Island at the Center of
the World,” the epic story of Dutch Manhattan and the forgotten colony that shaped America. Steven Comer, a Mohican Native American living within the original territory of the Mohican people, has provided cultural information and consulting for the project.

The Museum also is celebrating the Dutch influence on Albany and New York State with a trip to Holland and Belgium. This adventure will allow participants to experience these countries and appreciate their effect on Albany’s heritage and architecture. The trip is September 24 through October 1, 2009 and priced at $2,127 per person, double occupancy. Museum members receive a discount of $50. This trip includes a week-long stay in a four-star hotel located in the Hague, Holland’s government capitol. The price includes airfare, transfers, six nights accommodation, breakfast everyday except arrival, three dinners, private luxury coach, and local guides in Amsterdam, Bruges, and Delft. Also included are the entrance fees for windmills, a Delftware factory, New Church Delft, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, canal boat rides, and Aalsmeer Flower Auction. There is one free day with an optional trip to Paris, France. For more information or to register call Susan at (518) 862-1810 Monday through Friday.

The New York State Museum is a cultural program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Founded in 1836, the museum has the longest continuously operating state natural history research and collection survey in the U.S. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open daily from 9:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Further information can be obtained visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

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