Fenimore Art Museum
Originally founded in 1899, New York State Historical Association would move to Cooperstown in 1944. Now, The Fenimore Art Museum is home to collections that span the founding family of Cooperstown and the Thaw Collection of American Indian Art. The Museum stands on the site of the Farmhouse of the Cooper family that settled in the area in the 1800s. The museum is committed to the preservation and education of cultural heritage.
Backstory and Context
The Fenimore Art Museum, located on Otsego Lake just outside of Cooperstown, New York is home to various collections, including The Thaw Collection of American Indian Art. The Museum started out as the New York State Historical Society in 1899 as a way to educate the public about the state, and promote research. The Historical Association would move to Cooperstown with the donation of the Fenimore House in 1944 from Stephen Carlton Clark. The current building sits at the same location of James Fenimore Cooper’s farmhouse originally stood.
Over the years the original site grew to house galleries and offices. The library which grew into a new building in 1968, housed material for both the Fenimore Art Museum and the Farmers Museum located across the street. In 1995 a new wing was added onto the Fenimore House for the Thaw Collection, which is a renowned collection of American Indian Art and Culture. Within a few years in 1999 the museum would officially be known as the Fenimore Art Museum.
In addition to the Thaw collection, the Fenimore is home to collections that feature American Folk art, photography, and the Coopers of Cooperstown, as well as travelling exhibits. Fenimore houses one of the largest collection of Folk art in the nation, including the Martin Van Bergen Homestead painting by John Heaton. The Coopers Collection, tells of the founding family of the area including James Fenimore Cooper, author of novels including “The Last of the Mohicans” and “Precaution.” This collection included personal items, including eyeglasses, owned by the family.
About Fenimore. Accessed May 2nd 2020. https://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/about#about-fenimore.
The Coopers of Cooperstown. Accessed May 2nd 2020. https://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/collections/the-coopers-of-cooperstown.
American Folk Art. Accessed May 2nd 2020. https://www.fenimoreartmuseum.org/collections/american-folk-art-2.