Cheval Glass: A Study of Form and Attribution

Need a reason to go back to Boscobel? In addition to Shakespeare, GAC Sculptures, the Farmers’ Market and a variety of other special events on its calendar this year, Boscobel is presenting a uniquely, specialized house tour this summer with focus on its virtual showcase of furniture from renowned New York cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe. House tours through September 10 will conclude in the gallery with a limited-time exhibition curated by Judith A. Pavelock.

On display will be Boscobel’s own cheval glass – a “looking glass” which has reflected images as far back as 1820 &#8212- as well as a similar piece on loan from the Columbia County Historical Society and other related objects hand-picked from Boscobel’s collection to be showcased for an up-close and intimate inspection. Mirrors have a universal appeal, and this exhibition offers the chance to see an extraordinary piece of furniture – considered a chic, newfangled item in the 1800s – standing separately and spotlighted for all to enjoy.

“This behind-the-scenes exhibition is a rare opportunity to see select objects from Boscobel’s collection apart from our richly decorated period rooms and to see how we determine who made the cheval glass, even though it is not labeled and we do not know the history of its ownership,” says Pavelock.

The invention of the cheval glass, a type of tall dressing glass with a trestle base, was dependent upon technological improvements in glass making during the 16th century and the hundreds of 19th century journeymen and cabinetmakers who were inspired by designs they brought to New York City during a time when the economy was resilient, robust and competitive. In 1991, a cheval glass was donated to Boscobel without a maker’s label or history of ownership. It was attributed to the famous French emigre cabinetmaker of New York, Charles-Honore Lannuier (1779-1819).

This unique exhibition explores the origins and use of this specialized furniture form and how curators go about the process of attributing furniture to specific makers. Who made these looking glasses? Could the renowned New York master cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe have been involved in the production of any of these examples? Can the attribution to the famous Lannuier be sustained?

Boscobel visitors will have the opportunity to reflect upon these thoughts and more during the exhibit, Through the Cheval Glass: A Study of Form and Attribution, at no additional charge as part of their paid house tour admission June 17 – September 10, 2012.

Boscobel is a historic house museum, cultural venue and so much more. Located on scenic Route 9D in Garrison New York just one mile south of Cold Spring, Boscobel is directly across the river from West Point. From April through October, hours are 9:30am to 5pm (first tour at 10am- last at 4pm)- November & December 9:30am to 4pm (last tour at 3pm.) Boscobel is open every day except Tuesdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. For more information, visit www.Boscobel.org or call 845.265.3638.

Photo: Cheval Glass, New York City, 1820-1830, Collection of Boscobel

Coleman Collectors to Light-Up Lake George

It’s probably safe to say most everyone who has ventured into Adirondack woods or waters in the last 50 years has at some time used a Coleman product.

The company once sold Skiroule snowmobiles, Hobie Cat sailboats, and even its on pop-up trailers, but most recreationists are familiar with some of the smaller Coleman products: coolers, canoes and other small boats, sleeping bags, tents, backpacks, and the ubiquitous camp stoves and Coleman lanterns.

The company was  founded in 1900 by William Coffin Coleman, known as  &#8220W. C.&#8221, and a  former school school principal working as a typewriter salesman who founded the company while earning money for law school.  Coleman’s obsession with a lantern that burned a bright white light is matched by legions of Coleman collectors, who pour over the company’s American made designs (Coleman was born in Columbia County, NY and moved to the mid-west) and trade stories and knowledge.

The International Coleman Collectors Club will hold it’s 20th Anniversary Convention at the Fort William Henry Convention Center in Lake George on June 28th and 30th [link]. The event, the first convention to be held in the Northeast, will feature collectors from throughout the United States and Canada and as far away as Germany, Denmark, and The Philippines.  Thirty-eight tables filled with Coleman products from the early 1900s onward, some for sale, and a seminars on lantern restoration, how mantles are made, and the Coleman Model 202 Professional lantern, a nickle-plated beauty made from the mid-1950s to the early 1960s. A highlight of the event will be two outdoor Coleman &#8220light-ups&#8221.

Steve and Robin Miller of Queensbury are serving as hosts of the gathering. &#8220I thought this would be a perfect place to hold a camping equipment show, right here in Lake George,&#8221 Steve Miller told me.  &#8220We thought that this would be a great place for the collectors from around the world, as it is very beautiful here and there is so much to do,&#8221 he said,  &#8220Lake George also has the only Coleman outlet store in the northeast, just a few miles up the road from the convention center.&#8221

The Millers have been collecting Coleman gear for about 25 years and have about 200 Coleman lanterns, stoves, gas irons, and more, but they are quick to point out that there will be even more knowledgeable &#8220Coleman people&#8221 at the convention, including several who have worked at the Coleman company in Wichita, KS over the years.

The event will be open to the public on Saturday only, from 9 am to 1 pm, but it’s not too late to register for the convention (pdf).

Two &#8220light-ups&#8221 will be held. The first in the Fort William Henry parking lot on Thursday at 8:30 pm, and the second on Friday night at the Georgian Resort’s beach, beginning about 7-8:00 pm (bring your lanterns!).

Photos: Above, Steve and Robin Miller, Coleman Collectors- Below, part of the Millers’ large Coleman lantern collection.

Hyde Lectures Begin with Tiffany Glass Expert

On Sunday, June 17, 2012, The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY will present Lindsy R. Parrott, director and curator of The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, New York City. Beginning at 2pm in the Froehlich Auditorium, Parrott will speak about The Hyde’s new exhibition, Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light, which was organized by the Neustadt Collection.  

Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light is part of the Museum’s “Summer of Light” which also includes Stephen Knapp: New Light in the Wood Gallery. Both exhibitions open June 17, 2012 and run through September 16, 2012.

Admission to the lecture is free with Museum admission. For this lecture, and others throughout the “Summer of Light” Lecture Series, open captioning for the hearing impaired will be provided, in part, by TDF and TAP Plus, which is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts.

Parrott is a graduate faculty member in the History of Decorative Arts Program offered jointly through the Smithsonian and George Mason University. Prior to joining the Neustadt Collection in 2003, she served as Collections Assistant and Mobile Museum Manager at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Florida, which boasts the most comprehensive collection of Tiffany works in the world.

Parrott received her M.A. in the History of Decorative Arts from Parsons School of Design/Smithsonian Institution where she focused on late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century ceramics and glass, with a specialization in the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany. She has also studied architecture and decorative arts through the Attingham Summer School in England and the Victorian Society Summer School in Newport.

Among her current projects, Parrott is a co-curator and co-author of the upcoming exhibition and accompanying catalog Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion. The show, which presents the first scholarly look at Tiffany’s significant artistic contributions to religious interiors, is organized by the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City and opens this October. Parrott has written and lectured extensively on various aspects of Tiffany’s career.

For more information, call 518-792-1761 or go to www.hydecollection.org.

NYPL Putting Historical Documents Online

Thousands of historical documents at The New York Public Library – including material handwritten by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and papers from authors such as Mark Twain – will soon be accessible to the public online.

The project, which began in January and will continue through 2014, will digitize documents from the Thomas Addis Emmet Collection, located within the Manuscripts and Archives Division, and almost all the papers of several major American authors in the Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at The New York Public Library.

“This exciting project is a key element in our goal of creating greater possibilities for our collections and expanding their accessibility worldwide,” said NYPL President Anthony Marx. “Digitizing collections featuring hand-written documents from Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Mark Twain, among others, provides remarkable new opportunities for scholarly research, and creates new teaching applications for an international audience. The Library is grateful to The Polonsky Foundation and other generous supporters who assist us in this valuable work.”

Technicians at the New York Public Library have already begun digitizing the Thomas Addis Emmet Collection, which documents the founding and early years of the United States – the move towards independence, the Revolutionary War, and the establishment of the federal government. The approximately 11,000 manuscripts in the collection include letters and documents by nearly every patriot and statesman who distinguished himself during this period American history.

Their letters provide insight into important historic milestones, such as the Stamp Act Congress, the First and Second Continental Congress, and the Annapolis Convention- trace the genesis of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation- and chronicle the successes and struggles of the first Federal Administration. The correspondence and letterbooks of generals and other officers detail their decisions, actions, and relationships during the Revolutionary War.

Highlights of the Emmet Collection include a copy of the Declaration of Independence in Jefferson’s hand, an engrossed copy of the Bill of Rights, and manuscript minutes of the Annapolis Convention. The collection has been a vital and repeatedly consulted resource for American historians since the Library acquired it in 1896.

Following the completion of digitization of the Emmet Collection, nearly all the papers from the Berg Collection’s holdings of Nathaniel Hawthorne, his wife Sophia Peabody Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain and Walt Whitman will be digitized. An estimated 35,000 pages will be scheduled for digitization beginning in January 2013 and be made available through the Library’s website. Items slated for digitization will include:

Hawthorne’s correspondence with President James Buchanan, educator Horace Mann, and fellow authors Oliver Wendell Holmes, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Herman Melville, as well as the diaries of his wife, Sophia Peabody Hawthorne that chronicle her own work as a writer and the literary work of her husband-

An original pencil map of Walden Pond, as well as several Thoreau manuscripts, including Faith in a Seed, about which the novelist Annie Proulx wrote in the Library’s Centennial celebration volume, Know the Past, Find the Future: The New York Public library at 100-

Mark Twain’s manuscripts of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Following the Equator, and correspondence with such influential American icons as Andrew Carnegie, William Dean Howells, and Theodore Roosevelt-

Numerous poems by Walt Whitman and over 300 of his letters, most of them to his mother and to Union soldiers during the Civil War.

The total cost of the project including both collections is $1 million- a gift of $500,000 from The Polonsky Foundation is expected to be matched by similar donations.

Honors Awarded at Great Lakes Trail Quilt Event

A regiment of Canadian quilters and a Pennsylvania woman have won Viewer’s Choice honors from the Great Lakes Seaway Trail War of 1812 Bicentennial Quilt Show. The show featured 1812 period-correct and pictorial quilts from 18 U.S. states and from across Canada.

The favorite quilt of the more than 1,000 visitors to the show hosted by three early 19th century historic sites in Sackets Harbor, a New York State 1812 Heritage Community, was made by nine of the living history interpreters at Upper Canada Village, Morrisburg, Ontario.


Janice Toonders, who demonstrates spinning and weaving at the Village, designed the quilt using an Irish chain pattern. Toonders, Martina Bols, Linda Brown, Mary Casselman, Christine Christie, Ivah Malkin, Marjorie Munroe, Judy Neville, and Sharon Shaver used wool cloth, silk thread and cotton fabrics to fashion symbols from the 1812 time period for the colorful pictorial. Sharon Shaver, the quilting demonstrator at Upper Canada Village, added the binding and quilting.

“British Major Sir Isaac Brock is front and center. Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost is aside as he navigates his horse home in shame for not advancing his troops at Plattsburgh. We have the First Nation’s Confederacy leader Tecumseh and Joseph Brant, the Mohawk Chief who was working with the British to create a nation in the west,” Toonders explains.

The Upper Canada Village quilters also included the sloop “Wolf” that fought in one of the Battles of Sackett’s Harbour. A bear, a moose, a First Nation’s symbol, a British sailor and Laura Secord who notified the British of a U.S. attack are also among the quilt’s storytelling images.

Quilts from four Canadian provinces made up approximately 30 percent of the show’s quilts.

The show’s second Viewer’s Choice winner is the “Underhill Tree of Life Whole-Cloth Quilt” made by Jill C. Meszaros of Cambridge Springs, PA, 25 miles south of Erie and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Pennsylvania. The all-blue quilt is intricately quilted by hand with a dark blue thread.

Meszaros says, “I chose to create a whole-cloth quilt to honor my family heritage and the history of quilting and our nation. My fourth great-grandfather, Major David Underhill traveled to Huron County, Ohio, in 1810. In 1812 he reacted to the news that the British and Indians were landing only to learn they were really soldiers in Hull’s army. As I quilted, my husband was away and I imagined what it would have been like in 1812 to wait for him to come home.”

Meszaros, a stay-at-home mother of six, fashioned her design after the Clarke Family Quilt in the book “Massachusetts Quilts” and used fruit, floral and foliate motifs inspired by “Quilts-Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum.” The quilt’s batting is wool, typical of the 1812 time. She says, “The last stitch went in the I day I shipped the quilt to the show.”

Show manager Lynette Lundy-Beck notes, “This show inspired people to learn more about the War of 1812, its battles, the soldiers and their loved ones, and about the quilters’ own families. This show is indeed a storytelling event that interprets the travel themes for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in many interesting and personal ways, and that is what makes this quilt show unique among quilt shows and tourism showcases.”

Much of the war was fought along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, a National Scenic Byway in the U.S. The 518-mile leisure driving route parallels the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River, and Lake Erie. Quilting is just one of many travel themes for the byway.

Watch www.seawaytrail.com/quilting for details on the impact of the 2012 show and for guidelines on the Beauty of the Byways theme for the 2013 show.

Iroquois Indian Museum Prepares Opening, Events

The Iroquois Indian Museum opens for its 2012 season on May 1 with a new exhibit and special events planned throughout the year. From May 1 until the closing day on November 30, the Museum hosts the exhibition, &#8220Birds and Beasts in Beads: 150 Years of Iroquois Beadwork.&#8221 The exhibit features more than 200 beaded objects, largely from the collection of retired archeologist and Museum trustee, Dolores Elliott.

A great number of animal images appear in Iroquois beadwork including pets, forest wildlife, farm animals, and exotic beasts. The exhibition highlights these animals that appear on varied beaded household items such as purses, pincushions, wall pockets and picture frames made popular during the Victorian era.

In addition to the exhibit, the Museum has a Nature Park of 45 acres and a Children’s Museum &#8212- an active, hands-on area &#8212- where Iroquois traditions are introduced through crafts, games and technologies.

The Museum has a full schedule of special events in 2012 (see below). Events at the Museum are free with paid admission. The Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 12 Noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. It is closed Monday. Regular admission is $8 for adults, $6.50 for seniors/students and $5 for children ages 5-12. Children under five are free when accompanied by an adult. Special group rates are available by calling the Museum at 518-296-8949. For more information, visit www.iroquoismuseum.org.

2012 SPECIAL EVENTS

May 26 & 27: IROQUOIS CULTURAL FESTIVAL: Join the Iroquois Indian Museum at New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown for their first festival featuring Iroquois artists, dancers and storytellers.

May 29: NATIVE AMERICAN ARTISAN SERIES: Carla Hemlock, Mohawk quilter and Babe Hemlock, Mohawk painter demonstrate at Iroquois Indian Museum. (May 26 – 28: Carla and Babe will be at the Fenimore Art Museum/New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown)

June 3: from 1:00 – 3:00: PLANTING A THREE SISTERS GARDEN AND STORYTELLING: Visitors are invited to help us plant a Three Sisters Garden of corn, beans and squash. Traditional Iroquois stories about planting and the natural world will be shared.

June 22: NATIVE AMERICAN ARTISAN SERIES: Natasha Smoke Santiago, Mohawk painter and sculptor demonstrates at Iroquois Indian Museum (June 17 – 21: Natasha will be at the Fenimore Art Museum/New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown)

July 4: EARLY TECHNOLOGY DAY: Visitors can watch and participate in the process of flint knapping, using local and semi-local cherts and lithics, fire making, atl-atl spear throwing, and early archery. There will be displays of projectile points, tools, and local archaeological finds from our archaeology department.

July 14: IROQUOIS SOCIAL DANCE SATURDAY with ONOTA’A:KA (Oneida Nation Dancers)
Onota’a:ka, based in the central New York Haudenosaunee community of Oneida, was founded by Elder and Wolf Clan Mother Maisie Shenandoah for the purpose of cultural education. While Maisie passed away in 2009, the troupe’s original purpose continues to be carried forth by daughter Vicky, granddaughter Tawn:tene (Cindy Schenandoah Stanford) and an extended family with common goals. For the Schenandoahs dance is not a separate expression of heritage and thanksgiving, but one that is thoroughly integrated into daily life. The dancers will demonstrate a variety of traditional Iroquois Social Dances and encourage participation from the audience. Social songs vary in length, verses and tempo depending on the song selection of the singers. All dances are done in a counter clockwise direction. The instruments used in the social dances in various combinations are the water drum, the horn rattle, hard sticks and the beating of the feet on the floor.

July 20: NATIVE AMERICAN ARTISAN SERIES: Penelope S. Minner, Seneca Basketmaker demonstrates at Iroquois Indian Museum (August 5 – 7: Penelope will be at the Fenimore Art Museum/New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown)

July 28: IROQUOIS SOCIAL DANCE SATURDAY: Iroquois performers will demonstrate a variety of traditional Iroquois Social Dances and encourage participation from the audience. Social songs vary in length, verses and tempo depending on the song selection of the singers. All dances are done in a counter clockwise direction. The instruments used in the social dances in various combinations are the water drum, the horn rattle, hard sticks and the beating of the feet on the floor.

August 2, 3, & 4: SONG QUEST WITH JOANNE SHENANDOAH: For the first time at the Iroquois Indian Museum, Grammy Award winning songwriter and performer Joanne Shenandoah offers a comprehensive song-writing workshop. Benefit Concert Performance at the conclusion of the workshop on Saturday evening. Pre-registration for workshop required. [email protected]

August 8: NATIVE AMERICAN ARTISAN SERIES: Karen Ann Hoffman, Oneida beadworker demonstrates at Iroquois Indian Museum (August 5 – 7: Karen will be at the Fenimore Art Museum/New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown)

August 11: IROQUOIS SOCIAL DANCE SATURDAY with the HAUDENOSAUNEE DANCERS from Onondaga. The Haudenosaunee Dancers perform Iroquois social dances as practiced in their small traditional community near Syracuse. Elegant and knowledgeable, leader Sherri Waterman-Hopper has traveled internationally as an artist and cultural speaker. The Dancers feature a core group of seasoned singer/musicians and talented and dedicated young adults. Pride in the culture and adherence to the traditions are the hallmarks of this disciplined troupe. The dancers will demonstrate a variety of traditional Iroquois Social Dances and encourage participation from the audience. Social songs vary in length, verses and tempo depending on the song selection of the singers. All dances are done in a counter clockwise direction. The instruments used in the social dances in various combinations are the water drum, the horn rattle, hard sticks and the beating of the feet on the floor.

August 24: NATIVE AMERICAN ARTISAN SERIES: Ken Maracle, Cayuga Wampum Maker demonstrates at Iroquois Indian Museum (August 21 – 23 : Ken will be at the Fenimore Art Museum/New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown)

September 1 & 2: 31ST ANNUAL IROQUOIS INDIAN FESTIVAL: Festival offerings include Iroquois music and social dance, traditional stories, all-Iroquois art market, games and Native food. More highlights include wildlife exhibits, archeology ID table, and flintknapping demonstrations.

September 2: NATIVE AMERICAN ARTISAN SERIES: Vince Bomberry, Cayuga Sculptor demonstrates at Iroquois Indian Museum (August 30 – September 1: Vince will be at the Fenimore Art Museum/New York State Historical Association, Cooperstown)

Medical Center to Scan Albany Institute Mummies

In preparation for the 2013 exhibition The Mystery of the Albany Mummies, the Albany Institute of History & Art’s two mummies, each thousands of years old, will be brought to Albany Medical Center for CT scans and x-rays, using modern imaging techniques to learn the mummies’ genders, causes of death, and more. Leading experts in body imaging and Egyptology will direct the procedures and analyze results.

The Albany Institute of History & Art’s two mummies were acquired from Cairo, Egypt in 1909, were brought to the Albany Institute from Cairo in 1909 by Samuel W. Brown, a member of the museum’s Board of Trustees. The mummies and their coffins have been seen by generations of visitors.

Arthur Pielli, Radiology Manager at Albany Medical Center, and two radiologists, Phuong Nguyen Vinh, MD, and Michael Edward Schuster, MD will examine the mummies. The results will then be analyzed with the help of Egyptologist and medical doctor Dr. Robert Brier, a Senior Research Fellow at Long Island University known as “Mr. Mummy,” and Dr. Peter Lacovara, the exhibition’s guest curator and Senior Curator of Egypt, Nubia and Near East at the Carlos Museum at Emory University.

The mummies were last examined by x-rays and CT scans on November 12, 1988. This preliminary analysis helped to determine the mummies’ sex, approximate ages, and various insights into the mummification process. The x-rays and CT scans show a number of bundles inside both of the mummies. Based on the last scan, it was determined that the partially unwrapped mummy is Ankhefenmut, a priest in the temple of Mut at Karnak in Thebes during Dynasty XXI (c.1085-945 BC).

Ankhefenmut is reported to have died in 966 and was probably between 55 and 65 years old at the time of his death. The wrapped mummy is a woman. Her name is not known because the top of the coffin was badly deteriorated and left in Cairo by Samuel Brown in 1909. According to Brown she also came from the cache at Deir el-Bahri. X-rays reveal that she was probably between 35-45 years old when she died.

During Dynasty XXI, a change in the practice of mummification occurred. The internal organs were no longer placed in canopic jars, but were usually wrapped in linen packages. These packages were then placed in the empty body or placed between the legs. Canopic jars, however, continued to be a part of the funerary equipment, but were made smaller.

Perhaps the most interesting discovery was a well-crafted fake toe, possibly made of ceramic, carefully attached to the right foot of the wrapped mummy. It is presumed that the toe was fashioned for the woman during the mummification process because of the belief that one had to be physically intact to enter the afterlife. This discovery was highlighted on The Learning Channel’s program, The Ancient ER, in February 2003.

The initiative is a collaboration between the Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany Medical Center, University at Albany Foundation, and the University at Albany Center for Humanities, Arts, and TechnoSciences.

Photo: Partially unwrapped mummy of Ankhefenmut, a priest in the temple of Mut at Karnak in Thebes during Dynasty XXI (c.1085-945 BC). Courtesy Albany Institute of History and Art.

A Survey of Oral Histories in Local Repositories

Historical societies, especially small ones, often fall off the radar when librarians compile collection information, even though most of our cultural heritage is collected and kept in these small repositories. Personal accounts in the form of recorded oral histories are one of the most valuable, and also the most vulnerable of these precious local documents.

Librarian and oral historian Nancy MacKay (San Jose State University, School of Library and Information Science), is currently conducting a survey on the state of oral histories in repositories. She is especially interested in reaching historical societies and cultural centers. The results of the survey will be made available as widely as possible.

If your organization contains oral histories, please contribute information about your organization online.
The survey should take 15-20 minutes. More information about the survey can be found on the survey information page. The Survey deadline is March 30. For more information contact Nancy MacKay or Emily Vigor at [email protected]

NYS Museum Research in Archaeology Lectures

Research findings on a 200-300-year-old skull found in a wall in Coeymans &#8211 the subject of recent news accounts &#8211 will be one of the topics discussed during a series of lectures on “Research in Archaeology” at the New York State Museum. The lectures will be held Wednesday through March 28 at 12:10 p.m. in the Huxley Theater. Lecture topics and dates are:

? March 14 &#8211 “Learning from Pottery.” Broken pieces of pottery, or sherds, are one of the most common artifacts recovered from archaeological sites younger than 3,000 years old. Dr. John P. Hart, director of the State Museum’s Research & Collections division, will
discuss recently completed research on sherds that provides information on how Native Americans interacted across what is now New York state.

? March 21 &#8211 “The Skull in the Wall: The Case of the Coeymans Lady.” The discovery of a human skull during repairs to the stone foundation at the historic Coeymans House in southern Albany County raised many questions about the person’s identity and manner of death.
Lisa Anderson, curator of bioarchaeology, will take a closer look at the skeletal evidence and historical context of the case.

? March 28 &#8211 “Cache and Carry: New Insights on Ice Age Technology of New York Paleoindians.” New York’s first people colonized the state at the end of the Ice Age. Ranging widely across New York and beyond, many have wondered how these hunter gatherers
created a portable stone technology compatible with their mobile way of life. Dr. Jonathan Lothrop, curator of archaeology, describes new insights from the study of a Paleoindian stone tool cache discovered in the upper Susquehanna Valley.

Founded in 1836, the State Museum is a program of the New York State Education Department’s Office of Cultural Education. Located on Madison Avenue in Albany, the Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New
Year’s Day. Admission is free. Further information can be obtained by calling (518) 474-5877 or visiting the museum website at www.nysm.nysed.gov.

Photo: Coeymans House from LOC Historic American Building Survey Digital Collection.

Brooklyn Museum Opening Cross-Collection Installation

An innovative installation approach, featuring some of the most important objects in the Brooklyn Museum collection, has been developed to create new ways of looking at art and exploring the Museum by making connections between cultures as well as objects. Scheduled to open on April 19, 2012, Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn, on long-term view in the newly renovated Great Hall, near the main entrance, provides for the first time a dynamic introduction to the Museum’s extensive collections, which range from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to contemporary art, representing almost every culture around the world, both past and present.

&#8220This remarkable cross-collection presentation, built around some of the most exceptional works in the Museum, better enables the visitor to explore the collection galleries by providing a model of how to make connections between cultures and how to better understand the ways that different peoples have addressed many of the same issues throughout time,&#8221 states Museum Director Arnold L. Lehman. &#8220For the very first time, our visitors have the opportunity to sample the breadth and depth of our holdings as they enter the Museum.&#8221

&#8220Over the course of the twentieth century, the Museum collected on a grand scale, making works of art that had previously been reserved primarily for the elite available to the public. As works of art became available to the many rather than the few, their meanings often changed. Deconstructing those meanings on a basic level provides an understanding of the Brooklyn Museum’s collections as a resource for study,&#8221 comments Chief Curator Kevin L. Stayton, who has coordinated the presentation, working with the Museum’s curators.

The installation is organized around three main sections: &#8220Connecting Places,&#8221 &#8220Connecting People,&#8221 and &#8216-Connecting Things.&#8221 In viewing the juxtaposition and combination of works from different cultures around the world, the visitor will be asked to consider the importance of the idea of place to the definition of culture and the self- the ways in which people represent themselves in the works of art that help define them- and the role of objects, or things, in supporting identity, both personal and cultural.

The &#8220Connecting Places&#8221 section presents artworks that reflect the human fascination with the physical world around us and how it relates to spirituality. The landscapes in which people live and the elements of nature that surround them deeply affect the way people see the world and how they try to understand the universe. This section includes a four-legged bowl (circa 250-600 C.E.), made in what is now Guatemala, that reveals a Mayan concept of the cosmos- an eighteenth-century cosmic diagram, made in Gujarat or Rajasthan, that presents a unique worldview- the monumental 1765 painting Our Lady of Chocharcas Under the Baldachin showing the celebration of a pilgrimage in which Lake Titicaca is almost as significant as the statue of the Virgin herself- a festival hat, probably made around Potosi in the eighteenth century, depicting a triangular mountain that might be the Cerro de Potosi, the source of the silver that enriched the area- Louis Remy Mignon’s monumental painting Niagara (1866), which became a powerful symbol of natural resources that made their potential seem almost limitless- the renowned Century Vase made by the Union Porcelain Works of Brooklyn for display at the Centennial Exposition, in 1876, displaying native animals and scenes of progress unique to the American experience- and a contemporary work, Soundsuit by Nick Cave, that explores man’s involvement with nature.

The &#8220Connecting People&#8221 section investigates the ways in which human beings have represented themselves in artworks, in various cultures through time. A number of the works address the journey from life to death, such as a stunning and rare Huastec stone statue that features a standing human figure on one side and a skeleton on the other. Other works include a kachina doll, in the Brooklyn Museum collection since 1904, that reflects the ways in which the human form can represent the spiritual and universal- and Gaston Lachaise’s monumental Standing Woman, a modern work that dignifies the human form and raises it to a level that reflects the humanist tradition.

The &#8220Connecting Things&#8221 section includes works that carry particular significance to those who make and use them. Among the objects is a group of more than 100 pitchers to illustrate the many permutations of a single form- kero cups used in ritualistic ceremonies that were important to the Andean concept of reciprocity- a coffin in the form of a Nike sneaker, by Ghanaian artist Paa Joe, that reflects the importance of consumer society and global trade in the modern world- and an African staff, a symbol of authority that is the model for an African-American emancipation cane.

The installation was designed by Matthew Yokobosky, Chief Designer at the Brooklyn Museum, working together with Chief Curator Kevin Stayton, Director Arnold Lehman, and all of the Museum’s curators.

Image: Louis Remy Mignot (American, 1831-1870)’s &#8220Niagara, 1866&#8243-, A Gift of Arthur S. Fairchild. Courtesy the Brooklyn Museum.