Mission and History
About The Farmers’ Museum
Cultivating an understanding of the rural heritage that has shaped our land, communities and American culture.
By focusing on interpretive quality, authenticity and visible annual improvements, The Farmers’ Museum will strengthen its reputation as a highly desirable destination and regional resource (real and virtual) for adults, families, and school groups, and as a leader among outdoor history museums.
We are committed to improving visitor amenities and imparting consistency in programming and organizational performance. The staff will strive to make every interaction at the museum a positive and memorable experience.
The staff members of The Farmers’ Museum and Fenimore Art Museum combine their talents and energies in a friendly, engaging manner to achieve our missions. These core values guide and inspire how we define our relationships with each other and our stakeholders.
Nourishing mind, heart, and spirit.
Creating delightful and memorable experiences.
Interacting with openness, respect, and authenticity.
Connecting ideas and actions to those we serve.
Embracing different perspectives and reflecting the many cultures of New York.
Performing with creativity, resourcefulness, and leadership.
The Farmers’ Museum will be best served in the next several years by improving and strengthening our programs, operations, and financial position; further developing our marketing effectiveness and fundraising capacity; and looking closely at the Association’s longer-term ambitions. We must position ourselves to tackle selective capital needs and more ambitious projects by building a strong foundation, quantifying and prioritizing our needs, and developing the case for support.
Collections Management Policy
The Farmers’ Museum’s Collections Management Policy is a written document, approved by the Board of Trustees, which specifies the museum’s policies concerning all collections-related issues, including accessioning, documentation, storage, and disposition. The policy provides general guidelines that regulate the activities of the organization. It provides standards for exercising good judgment and is periodically revised to include new standards and best practices of the museum field.
Collections Management Policy (November 2019, pdf)
The site of The Farmers’ Museum has deep roots in New York State’s rural past. The land has been part of a working farm since 1813, when it was owned by James Fenimore Cooper. Judge Samuel Nelson, whose office is part of The Farmers’ Museum Village, bought the farm in 1829 and raised sheep. Fenimore Farm, as it came to be known, changed hands again in the 1870s, when it was acquired by the Clark family.
In 1918, Edward Severin Clark built a showcase complex at Fenimore Farm for his prize herd of cattle. The barn, creamery, and herdsman’s cottage designed by architect Frank Whiting in the Colonial Revival style and constructed of local stone still stand today and are an integral part of the museum. Today, they house museum offices, exhibition spaces, and public areas. The structures are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Farmers’ Museum opened its doors to the public in 1944. At that time, the museum had 5,000 tools and objects, including important collections amassed by the Otsego County Historical Society; William B. Sprague, founder of the Early American Industries Association; and the Wyckoff family, one of Brooklyn’s oldest farming families. Today the museum’s collections number more than 23,000 artifacts.
The Farmers’ Museum is a private, non-governmental educational organization. It is closely affiliated with its sister organization, Fenimore Art Museum.
From the President
After a long winter, we are happy to be open again to serve families, friends, and visitors from all over the country and world who come to enjoy Cooperstown and the Museum. Reopening is different this year, after having embarked what was a challenging and long 2020 full of surprises and readjustments for all of us. This season promises to be fun and educational as we begin reengaging with one another in person both on campus and in our own communities. While this year will still be different than those pre-pandemic, that is only because we have learned from the changes we’ve had to make which has made the Museum a safer and even more fun environment where families can learn and engage with our interpreters, historic buildings, exhibitions, and farm animals. Look for the same variety of safe alternatives we developed in 2020, with interpreters outdoors and in the Main Barn. There will be a lot of opportunities to interact at a distance and safely browse our shops.
The feature exhibition in the Main Barn is Brew: New York’s Craft Beer Revival, which highlights hop growing and brewing between 1840 and the present. Today, New York State has more than 400 craft breweries. The exhibition features objects and images highlighting the history of New York State brewing, hops, and barley up to the present day where brewers and experts share their own personal stories and processes. This exhibition is vibrant and engaging and is not to be missed!
Please visit our website often and follow us on Facebook and Instagram as we are offering a wide range of online programming to help you stay engaged with our interpreters, museum teachers, and programs throughout these winter months. In 2021, we have a very exciting schedule planned for The Farmers’ Museum, so please make a point to safely visit us in Cooperstown this year!
We appreciate and rely on your continued loyalty and kind support now more than ever. The Farmers’ Museum is such an important part of all of our lives and we look forward, with hope, that this will be the best season yet!
Paul S. D’Ambrosio, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Board and Staff
Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman
J. Michael Moffat, Vice Chairman
Paul S. D’Ambrosio, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer
Joseph Siracusa, Vice President for Operations
Alexander Charlton, Secretary
Richard C. Vanison, Treasurer
MEMBERS AND DIRECTORS
David T. Bliss
Jane Forbes Clark
Stephen M. Duff
Gates Helms Hawn
Hon. John F. Lambert
J. Michael Moffat
Kevin S. Moore
Brent Ridge, MD
Edward W. Stack
Henry F. C. Weil, MD
Jeffrey H. Pressman, MD
SENIOR MANAGEMENT TEAM
Dr. Paul S. D’Ambrosio, President and CEO
Joseph Siracusa, Vice President for Operations
Barbara Fischer, Senior Director for Human Resources and Accounting
Todd A. Kenyon, Director of Marketing and Communications
Chris Rossi, Director of Exhibitions
John Ferguson, Director of Education