Fenimore Art Museum

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Fenimore Art Museum
Fenimore Art Museum, front elevation.jpg
The Fenimore Art Museum building, seen in July 2014
LocationCooperstown, New York
Coordinates42°42′56.4″N 074°55′37″W / 42.715667°N 74.92694°W / 42.715667; -74.92694
TypeArt museum
PresidentDr. Paul D'Ambrosio

The Fenimore Art Museum (formerly known as New York State Historical Association) is a museum located in Cooperstown, New York on the west side of Otsego Lake. Collection strengths include the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art, American fine and folk art, 19th and early 20th century photography, as well as rare books and manuscripts.[1][2] The museum's mission is to connect its audience to American and New York State cultural heritage by organizing exhibits and public programs that "engage, delight and inspire."[3]

The Fenimore Art Museum is closely associated with The Farmers' Museum, also in Cooperstown.[3]


Fenimore Art Museum was founded in 1899 as the New York State Historical Association.[3][4]

In 1939, Stephen Carlton Clark, an art collector interested in history who also served on the board of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum, helped organize a move to James Fenimore Cooper's former farmhouse in Cooperstown. In the mid-1990s, a new wing was added to the building to house the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection. Fenimore House was subsequently renamed Fenimore Art Museum.[3]

Having operated under a dba as Fenimore Art Museum since the 1990s, and in an effort to better describe its wide-ranging activities, the organization applied to amend its charter and change its corporate name in 2017.[5] As such, the New York State Board of Regents approved the updated charter on March 10 of 2017, formally changing the organization's name from New York State Historical Association to Fenimore Art Museum.[6]


Fine Art & Folk Art[edit]

The fine art and folk art collections were largely assembled by Stephen C. Clark and include works by Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Cole, William Sidney Mount, Benjamin West, Grandma Moses, Ralph Fasanella, and Lavern Kelley.[7][8][9]

Thaw Collection of American Indian Art[edit]

Clare and Eugene Thaw donated their collection of indigenous American art to the Fenimore Art Museum in 1991.[10] Items are continually added to the collection, which currently comprises more than 850 objects.[11]


Fenimore Art Museum's photography collections feature a number of Cooperstown artists, the most well-known being the Smith & Telfer Collection.[12] A portion of the firm's 60,000 piece archive has been digitized and is available online.[13]

Research library[edit]

In 1968, a separate building was built to consolidate the library collections of both New York State Historical Association (as it was known at the time) and The Farmers' Museum.[3] The Research Library supplements the missions and collections of both organizations by supporting research in local history, 19th century trades and agriculture, as well as art and material culture of Otsego County and surrounding areas of New York State.[2]

Performing Arts[edit]

Since 2015 the museum has hosted outdoor theatrical productions in the Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater, located on the grounds overlooking Otsego Lake.[14]


  1. ^ "Fenimore Art Museum Collections". Fenimore Art Museum. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  2. ^ a b "Fenimore Art Museum Research Library". Fenimore Art Museum. Archived from the original on 2016-12-30. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  3. ^ a b c d e "About Fenimore - Mission & History". Fenimore Art Museum. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  4. ^ "CONSTITUTION". Constitution and By-Laws, New York State Historical Association, with Proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting. 1: 9–12. 1901. JSTOR 42889019.
  5. ^ "Fenimore Art Museum Amends Charter | Fenimore Art Museum". 2017-05-06. Archived from the original on 2017-05-06. Retrieved 2017-12-28.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. ^ "NYS Board of Regents March 2017 meeting - charter applications" (PDF). New York State Department of Education. 2017-03-10. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  7. ^ "Fenimore Art Museum Collections - American Fine Art". Fenimore Art Museum. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  8. ^ "Fenimore Art Museum Collections - American Folk Art". Fenimore Art Museum. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  9. ^ "Fenimore Art Museum". www.albany.org. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  10. ^ "American Indian Art from the Fenimore Art Museum: The Thaw Collection | The Metropolitan Museum of Art". www.metmuseum.org. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  11. ^ "Thaw Collection of American Indian Art". Fenimore Art Museum. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  12. ^ "Fenimore Art Museum - Photography Collections". Fenimore Art Museum. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  13. ^ "Fenimore Art Museum Collections Online". Fenimore Art Museum. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  14. ^ "Otsego Lakeside Setting Makes Macbeth 'Exceptionally Evocative'". www.allotsego.com. Retrieved 2015-09-18.

External links[edit]