There’s still plenty to see at the New York State Museum as 2016 draws to a close, but listening to Director of Exhibitions Nancy Kelley looking ahead to 2017, the excitement is palpable.
“It’s going to be a huge year for New York State history,” said Kelley, who is overseeing the development of three major exhibits at the Madison Avenue venue in Albany. “2017 marks the centennial of America’s entry into World War I, and it’s also the anniversary of two other big events in New York’s history.”
“The Spirit of Sacrifice,” which will document New York’s role in the war effort, will open April 15 and run through June 3 of 2018 in the museum’s South Lobby.
Then, on July 14, “Enterprising Waters” will celebrate the beginning of the Erie Canal in 1817, and in November the focus will shift to “Votes for Women,” documenting the story of women’s suffrage in New York dating back to the election of 1917.
“The New York State Library has a phenomenal collection of posters from World War I, and I would say that is the foundation of our ‘Spirit of Sacrifice’ exhibit,” said Kelley. “They are beautiful pieces of art in their own right, but you can also follow the chronology of the war and New York’s contribution to the war effort in terms of industry and agricultural.”
The opening of the Erie Canal exhibit next summer will coincide with the 2017 World Canals Conference being held in Syracuse in September. The story of women’s suffrage in New York will take center stage in November, just before election day.
“Celebrating women’s suffrage is going to be a huge event for us,” Kelley said. “There is a group of women, the Suffrage Commission, that has been very active in making this a state-wide event. People think it’s 1920 but that was the federal law being passed. In New York women got the right to vote in 1917, and our exhibit is going to be open until May 13, 2018, which happens to be Mother’s Day.”
Albany Institute and others
The Albany Institute of History and Art will have a number of new exhibits going up, and on June 17 will host the 2017 Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region.
And in Cooperstown, the Fenimore Art Museum, which closes New Year’s Day and opens April 1, will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Andrew Wyeth and for skating buffs will put up an exhibit from the collection of former Olympic skater and TV commentator Dick Button.
In Schenectady, the Schenectady County Historical Society currently has “Changing Waters: The Story of the Mohawk River,” up and running through April at the Mabee Farm in Rotterdam Junction. Former State Museum curator Craig Williams will talk about the Erie Canal at society headquarters in the Stockade on Saturday, Jan. 7, and on Jan. 21 the society will unveil its major exhibit for 2017 in the Dora Jackson House Museum, “Together Until the End: Schenectady in World War I.”
At the Saratoga Springs History Museum at the Canfield Casino in Congress Park, “Vice: The Darker Side of Saratoga Springs” will be taken down on Friday. The major exhibit for 2017 will be “Internationally Famous,” focusing on the careers of photographer Cris Alexander and dancer Shaun O’Brien. The exhibit will open in April.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected].