Rockwell Museum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Rockwell Museum
Rockwell Museum, Corning, NY.jpg
The Rockwell Museum, 2015
Rockwell Museum is located in New York
Rockwell Museum
Location within New York
LocationCorning, New York, USA
Coordinates42°08′34″N 77°03′10″W / 42.14278°N 77.05290°W / 42.14278; -77.05290Coordinates: 42°08′34″N 77°03′10″W / 42.14278°N 77.05290°W / 42.14278; -77.05290
TypeArt museum
AccreditationAmerican Association of Museums, Smithsonian Affiliate
Key holdingsAlbert Bierstadt's Mount Whitney
CollectionsAmerican art,
Native American art
Collection sizeRoughly 5,000+
VisitorsApproximately 48,000 per year
FounderBob and Hertha Rockwell
DirectorBrian Lee Whisenhunt
Nearest parkingOn site, behind building (no charge to park)

The Rockwell Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate museum of American art located in the Finger Lakes region in downtown Corning, New York. Frommer's describes it as "one of the best-designed small museums in the Northeast." In 2015, The Rockwell Museum was named a Smithsonian Affiliate, the first in New York State outside of New York City.[1]


The Rockwell Family[edit]

The museum founder, Robert F. Rockwell, Jr., moved to Corning in 1933[2] to run his grandfather's department store. Rockwell bought his first Western painting in 1959. Over the next 25 years he amassed a significant collection of paintings, bronze sculptures, etchings and drawings, and Native American ethnographic materials. Another collecting interest for Rockwell developed from his longtime friendship with Frederick Carder, founder of the Steuben Glass Works. He and his wife, Hertha, accumulated more than 2,500 pieces of Carder Steuben glass.[3] In addition, they assembled a small collection of antique toys.

Institutional Timeline[edit]

Opening The Rockwell Museum[edit]

From 1960 to 1975, Bob Rockwell's growing collection of art was displayed to the public in the Rockwell Department Store on Market Street in Corning, New York.[4] In 1973, Corning Glass Works executives Amory Houghton, Jr., Thomas S. Buechner, and George W. Douglas pledged company support to provide a proper home for the Rockwell's collection of western art and artifacts, Carder Steuben glass,[3] and turn-of-the-century toys. The plan was to restore and renovate City Hall as the home for the collections as the company's bicentennial gift to the community and as a major tourist attraction.[5]

The museum opens under the name The Rockwell-Corning Museum in the Baron Steuben Hotel on November 13, 1976. In 1981, the name of the Museum is changed to The Rockwell Museum.

Move to Old City Hall[edit]

In 1980, The City of Corning offers its former 1893 City Hall, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, to house the Museum collections. Corning Glass Works funded the substantial exterior and interior renovation costs. June 19, 1982 the museum re-opens as The Rockwell Museum in the restored Old City Hall.

In 1991, The Museums West consortium is established and the Rockwell Museum is a founding member. In 1995, The museum is awarded accreditation by the American Association of Museums, and subsequently awarded in 2005.


In 2000, the museum is focused on becoming "The Best of the West in the East" and closes in August for a complete interior renovation led by ABC Architects and Planners, under the direction of James Vincent Czajka, AIA New York Chapter. Renovation costs underwritten by Corning Incorporated. The museum reopens as the Rockwell Museum of Western Art on May 18, 2001 and celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Re-imagined Museum[edit]

In July 2014, the name was shortened again to The Rockwell Museum.[6] With sponsorship from LeChase Construction, a Family Exploration Studio is introduced to the museum experience for hands-on learning.[7] In 2015, The Rockwell Museum was named a Smithsonian Affiliate, the first in New York State outside of New York City.[1]

Old City Hall Building History[edit]

In the Flood of 1972, the basement and much of the ground floor were submerged and suffered extensive damage due to Hurricane Agnes. Despite its condition, the old City Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. In 1982, it became the permanent home of The Rockwell Museum.[8] The building went through another major renovation early in 2000. In 2002, the building won the American Society of Landscape Architects Merit Award.

Designed by Rochester architect, AJ Warner and built by Corning contractor, Thomas Bradley, the building is Richardsonian Romanesque, a distinctly American style. Building costs were $28,579.50 in 1893. Polychromatic design with local brick & rusticated limestone quarried in Corning. The original bell in the bell tower held 20 weights of 50 lbs. each and is now at the City's current fire station.

From 1893 to 1974, the ground floor was the Corning Fire Station. The first floor had been the main entrance level from the outside stairs. Housed here were the City Clerk, City Court, Police Department and Jail Cells. By 1896, the Police Department was built as a two-story addition at the back of the building with a separate entrance. The second floor held City Council Chambers, Public Health Department, and dentist offices until 1972. The third floor was home to a public library and youth center.

Executive Directors[edit]

Paul E. Rivard: 1975 – 1978

Antony E. Snow: 1978 – 12/1/83

Michael W. Duty: 1/1//84 – 12/31/86

Thomas S. Buechner: 6/26/86 – 12/18/86 (Trustee, Acting Director)

Dwight P. Lanmon: 12/18/86 – 12/31/87 (Trustee, Acting Director)

Arthur Townsend: 1/1/88 – 11/29/89

Mercedes C. Skidmore: 12/7/89 – 12/8/90 (Acting Director)

Kent Ahrens: 12/8/90 – 9/7/95

Richard B. Bessey: 9/7/1995 – 5/1/1997

Stuart A. Chase: 5/1/1997 – 1/28/2002

Kristin A. Swain: 1/28/2002 – 7/15/2002 (Acting Director)

Kristin A. Swain: 7/15/2002 – 12/31/2016[9]

Brian Lee Whisenhunt: 1/1/2017 - Current[10]

Community Partnerships[edit]

Alley Art Project[edit]

In 2010, the "Alley Art Project" was launched with the mural painting, "The Tree of Life." The Rockwell Education Department partners with the Corning-Painted Post School District High School Learning Center to create student-designed and painted murals that use The Rockwell's own art collection as inspiration. The murals are publicly visible in the alleyways of Corning, NY. The High School Learning Center provides an alternative setting for students who may otherwise be at risk of dropping out of school.

To celebrate the museum's 40th anniversary, The Rockwell and High School partnered with artist Virgil Ortiz. Students studied Ortiz's Ancient Elder sculpture on exhibit at The Rockwell. The sculpture was developed as part of Ortiz's futuristic revolution story taking place in 2180 that restores sacred lands to the Pueblo peoples. Inspired by this work, students created their own "super power" characters who are meant to help bring about critical change, such as equality for all peoples. The mural is located at Capn' Morgan's on Bridge Street in Corning, NY.

All of the murals can be found on the Corning Public Art Map.

Garden of Fire Community Collaborative Summer Program[edit]

The Rockwell Museum collaborates with several area partners to offer the second phase of the educational Garden of Fire project to regional children during the summer The program, which was conceived collaboratively by local organizations, focuses on building capacity, depth and the integration of art and science for programs serving youth in Steuben County.[11]

Dia de los Muertos[edit]

During the month of October, middle-school Spanish students from the surrounding area create decorative objects for a Dia de Los Muertos student ofrenda (altar) that is installed in The Rockwell's Student Gallery. The collaboration is celebrated each year with a Dia de los Muertos museum-wide educational event, including music, presentations, and traditional crafts. The Rockwell Museum has celebrated el Dia de los Muertos since 2004.


The museum houses three floors of works that focus on American art and artifacts, contemporary Native American art and bronze sculptures. Highlights include:

Other artists in the museum collection include Jaune Quick–to–See Smith, N.C. Wyeth, William R Leigh, Thomas Moran, Cyrus Edwin Dallin, Andy Warhol, and other modern and contemporary artists.

In 2013, Albert Bierstadt's "Mount Whitney" painting received a new frame from Gill & Lagodich Fine Period Frames & Restoration in Manhattan. The new frame is a replica of an 1870s American frame for the museum's centerpiece. Its original frame had greatly deteriorated and was not an American 19th century frame.[12] Another addition to the museum's collection includes the 1993 work by Ed Mell entitled Jack Knife, which is located on the corner of Cedar Street and Denison Parkway.[13]


  1. 1976. The Painter's West. Paul E. Rivard.
  2. 1984. Remington's West. Michael Duty.
  3. 1986. A Limitless Sky: The West of Charles M. Russell. Ginger Renner with Northland Press.
  4. 1987. Photography in the West. Frank Armstrong.
  5. 1987. Boundless Realism. Exhibit Catalog. Robert C. Manchester.
  6. 1987. Great Paintings of the Old West. Postcards.
  7. 1989. American Western Art. Museum Catalog. The Rockwell Staff.
  8. 1990. Clyde Aspevig: Field Studies. Thomas Buechner.
  9. 1991. Play of Light: Glass Lamps of Frederick Carder. Exhibit Catalog. Thomas Dimitroff.
  10. 1993. Collector's Choice Review. Robyn Peterson, ed. Frederick Carder and Steuben Glass.
  11. 1993. American Frontier Photography. Robyn Peterson.
  12. 1995. Cyrus E. Dallin: His Small Bronzes and Plasters. Kent Ahrens.
  13. 1996. Warp and Weft. Exhibit Catalog. Robyn Peterson.
  14. 2005. Elemental Solitude. Exhibit Catalog. Shelia K. Hoffman.
  15. 2007. Crafted to Perfection. Shelia K. Hoffman.
  16. 2016. American Masterworks of Howard Terpning. Kirsty Buchanan.
  17. Undated. Carder's Corning. Manuscript by Stanley Weisenfeld. Two volumes and video.
  18. 2000. The Rockwell Museum. DVD. Carder Steuben Glass Collection.


  • Lock, Stock & Barrel: Historic firearms from the collection of Robert F. "Bobby" Rockwell III - Exhibition Dates: November 20, 2013 – January 1, 2015
  • Painted Journeys: In the Spirit of American West- Exhibition Dates: January 24, 2014 - May 4, 2014
  • Untouched by Chaos: Karl Bodmer and the American Wilderness- Exhibition Dates: March 3, 2014 – March 8, 2015
  • On Fire: the Nancy & Alan Cameros Collection of Southwestern Pottery[14]- Exhibition Dates: April 8, 2014 – April 1, 2016
  • The sculptures of Abraham Anghik Ruben[15]- Exhibition Dates: May 16, 2014- September 7, 2014
  • Illustration and Imagination: W.H.D. Koerner's Western Paintings- Exhibition Dates: May 16, 2014 – September 7, 2014
  • Harmless Hunter: Charles M. Russell's Wildlife Art- Exhibition Dates: September 19, 2014 – January 4, 2015
  • A Feeling of Humanity: Western Art from the Ken Ratner Collection- Exhibition Dates: September 26, 2014 – January 11, 2015
  • Touching on Water: Paintings by Thomas Paquette - Exhibition Dates: January 23, 2015 – March 29, 2015.
  • Between the States: Photographs of the American Civil War from the George Eastman House Collection. Exhibition Dates: April 10 - August 2, 2015.
  • The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict, Photographs by Pete McBride. Exhibition Dates: August 14, 2015 - February 7, 2016.
  • Richard Parrish: Aerial Perspectives of the American Landscape. Exhibition Dates: February 12 - June 19, 2016.
  • Art of the Parks: Celebrating 100 Years of the National Park Service. Exhibition Dates: February 19 – December 31, 2016.
  • Historic Photographs of Watkins Glen State Park. Exhibition Dates: February 23 – December 31, 2016.
  • American Masterworks of Howard Terpning: Highlights from the Eddie Basha Collection. Exhibition Dates: June 24 - September 11, 2016.[16]
  • 40 for 40: Anniversary Highlights from the Permanent Collection, Curated by Celebrity Guest Artists Steven & William Ladd. Exhibition Dates: September 24, 2016 – January 15, 2017.[17]
  • Modernist Masters, Contemporary Icons: Highlights from the Old Jail Art Center. Exhibition Dates: February 3, 2017 – April 23, 2017.
  • Marie Watt: The Western Door. Exhibition Dates: May 5, 2017 – September 5, 2017.
  • The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African-American Art: Works on Paper. Exhibition Dates: September 15, 2017 – December 31, 2017.

Previous exhibits include a collection from National Geographic displaying the work of Ansel Adams and William Henry Jackson,[18] and an Andy Warhol: Cowboys and Indians exhibit.

There are also some well-known pottery artists such as Tammy Garcia, Joseph Lonewolf, Nancy Youngblood, Margaret Tafoya, Maria Martinez, Al Qoyawayma and Popovi Da whose works are on display.


  1. ^ a b Post, James (2015-11-17). The Leader Retrieved 15 February 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Robert Fay Rockwell Jr.'s Obituary on Star-Gazette". Star-Gazette. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  3. ^ a b Gardner, Paul Vickers; Rockwell Museum (1985-01-01). Frederick Carder: portrait of a glassmaker. Corning, N.Y: Corning Museum of Glass ; Rockwell Museum. ISBN 0872901114.
  4. ^ Rolfe, Bob. "Remembering Rockwell, a Corning icon". The Leader. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  5. ^ Rockwell, Robert F. (1975-01-01). The Rockwell-Corning Museum: a plan for development. Corning, N.Y: Corning Glass Works.
  6. ^ Brenza, Amber (8 July 2014). "Rockwell Museum tweaks name, gets new look". Steuben Courier Advocate. Bath, NY. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Reimagining the Rockwell Museum in Corning". Elmira Star-Gazette. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  8. ^ "Rockwell Museum - Art about America". Rockwell Museum. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  9. ^ Villarreal, Ignacio. "Kristin A. Swain to retire as Executive Director of The Rockwell Museum". Retrieved 2017-01-16.
  10. ^ reports, Staff. "Rockwell Museum names executive director". The Leader. Retrieved 2017-01-16.
  11. ^ "Garden Of Fire". Garden Of Fire. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  12. ^ "New Frame For Rockwell Museum Painting". WENY. Horseheads, NY. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Most Recent Acquisitions".
  14. ^ "Alan Cameros more than an art collector".
  15. ^ "Abraham Anghik Ruben - Inuit Art Sculptures & Carvings Gallery".
  16. ^ "The Story Behind The Storyteller Howard Terpning At The Rockwell Museum". Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  17. ^ "Rockwell exhibit looks back on museum's 40 years". Elmira Star-Gazette. Retrieved 2016-12-28.
  18. ^ "Rockwell Museum of Western Art showcasing National Geographic exhibit". The Leader. Corning, NY. 18 July 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2014.

External links[edit]