Thursday, March 20, 2008
Most of us living in central New York who have an interest in art are well aquainted with venues such as the Everson Museum in Syracuse, Munson-Williams Proctor in Utica, the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center in Auburn and others. These are of course all outstanding institutions, with impressive collections. They certainly deserve their lofty standing in their respective communities. There is however, a small museum in Canajoharie that has a collection of American art, that is, at least in my opinion, every bit their equal. Some might argue more impressive.
Yet when I mention the Arkell to people in conversation, most seem to be unfamiliar with it or may have heard of it but never visited.
If you have driven to Albany on the New York State thruway, you have driven right past it. In fact you can see it clearly from the highway. This Museum houses a collection that includes Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Georgia O'Keefe, Mary Cassat and on and on. The founder of Beech Nut Foods, Mr. Bartlett Arkell amassed one of the largest collections of Hudson River School artists as well as a virtual who's who in American art from the 19th and early 20th century.
Mr. Arkell not only left his collection but also a considerable endowment to care for the work and grow the collection. He also played an instrumental role in the Southern Vermont Art Center in Manchester where he had a summer home, but that is a subject for another post.
I first learned of the Arkell about 20 years ago and have visited many times. I have never been disappointed. The Museum has just completed a major renovation and addition. I highly recommend a visit if you are over that way or even make a day of it. It is well worth the drive!
To learn more- http://www.arkellmuseum.org/