In 2013, the climate for museums and galleries was clouded by a weak economy, but there were some bright spots in our region.
From June 15 to Sept. 15, more than 38,000 people went to see “Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George” at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls.
“It’s the highest attendance for one exhibition ever in the 50-year history of The Hyde,” said Alice Grether, director of marketing, communication and visitor services.
In Schenectady, there was more good news on attendance, as the Museum of Innovation and Science (miSci) reported that in 2013 it more than doubled the number of visitors it had in 2012. In October, the museum announced that, for the first time, it would be open seven days a week year-round except on major holidays.
From February to April, miSci attracted visitors with a Butterfly House filled with more than 100 live insects. The butterfly house, a first for the Capital Region, will open again on Feb. 15.
Art Night Schenectady was resurrected in September after disappearing in 2012. With Schenectady artist Chris Brown as the new organizer, the event will be held quarterly instead of monthly. The next Art Night is scheduled Jan. 17.
In Amsterdam, the Elwood Museum of the Mohawk Valley moved into its new home in a rambling industrial site that once housed carpet mills and then the Noteworthy Co. The 100,000-square-foot complex is the museum’s largest-ever space. The ALCO Museum, which closed its Schenectady site in 2012, plans to open an exhibit in the Elwood Museum this winter.
The Sacandaga Valley Arts Network found a home, too, and in July, it moved into a storefront in Northville.
In the Berkshires, MASS MoCA grew even bigger, as it opened a 10,000-square-foot building devoted to German artist Anselm Kiefer.
Visitors who traveled to the Clark Art Institute for the Winslow Homer exhibit found the 140-acre campus under construction. The Clark is in the final phase of an expansion project that will be unveiled in July.
There were several leadership changes.
Jim Richard Wilson retired from the Sage Colleges after 20 years as gallery director and art history lecturer. Elizabeth Greenberg is the new director of the Opalka Gallery and comes to Sage from Siena College, where she was curator of fine arts.
Charles A. Guerin, a Chicago native, became the Hyde’s new director after leaving the same job at Tucson’s University of Arizona Museum of Art.
At the Albany Institute of History & Art, Tammis K. Groft, who has been chief curator since 1987, was named executive director.
At Union College, Julie Lohnes was hired as curator of art collections and exhibitions. She is the former executive director of A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn.
On Jan. 1, Maria Vann will start work as director of the Iroquois Indian Museum. Vann has worked as education programs manager at the New York State Historical Association and the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown.
Top 10 exhibits
1. “Modern Nature: Georgia O’Keeffe and Lake George,” The Hyde Collection. Curator Erin B. Coe came up with the idea for this summer blockbuster and the Hyde’s first-ever traveling exhibit.
2. “Xu Bing: Phoenix,” MASS MoCA. A pair of magnificent 20-ton birds, created from construction debris in China. “Phoenix” will open at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in Manhattan on Jan. 31.
3. “Someday Is Now: The Art of Corita Kent,” Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College. Co-curated by Tang director Ian Berry, it was an inspiring and joyful show about a nun who made Pop Art.
4. “GE Presents: The Mystery of the Albany Mummies,” through June 8, Albany Institute of History & Art. Guest-curated by experts on ancient Egypt, the show reunites Ankhefenmut with his mummy cover and coffin lid.
5. “BiPolar: Journeys to the Ends of the Earth,” Esther Massry Gallery, The College of Saint Rose. Curated by gallery director Jeanne Flanagan, a fascinating exploration of the Arctic and Antarctica through the eyes of four artists.
6. “An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War,” New York State Museum. This unforgettable, eye-opening history exhibit opened in late 2012 and it has been extended to March 23.
7. “Second Nature,” through March 9, Albany International Airport Gallery. An engaging exhibit for travelers of all ages and backgrounds.
8. 2013 Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region, The Hyde Collection. Many paintings, not much photography and video. Dan Cameron was juror.
9. 35th Annual Photography Regional, Fulton Street Gallery and Photography Center of the Capital District. First a salon and then an exhibit of 71 images by 59 artists. Shelby Lee Adams was juror.
10. “Art or Evidence: The Power of Photojournalism,” Mandeville Gallery, Union College. Powerful images of world events and conditions by award-winning photographers.
— Karen Bjornland, Gazette reporter