Barns: Cathedrals of the Countryside
Barns: Cathedrals of the Countryside celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Main Barn at The Farmers’ Museum with an exhibition of New York State dairy barns and the history of the rural dairy industry. Dairy barns have punctuated the upstate landscape for over 200 years, visually striking as landmarks yet practical in meeting basic farming needs: the production of milk, housing for cows, and storage for hay, grain, and silage. Images from the collection and text panels in the Main Barn take visitors through the development of barns as the dairy industry expanded to become the 3rd largest producer of milk in the United States. The exhibition is curated by Cynthia G. Falk–professor at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, a master’s degree program in museum studies sponsored by SUNY Oneonta. Dr. Falk is the author of Barns of New York: Rural Architecture of the Empire State, and served as the co-editor of Buildings & Landscapes, the journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum from 2012 to 2017.
Rural Health Care
The Doctor’s Office served as office space for four different doctors from the 1820s until 1912. The office was used primarily for preparing drugs, record keeping, storing medical equipment and occasionally treating patients. In 2018 the Rural Health Care exhibit was opened in the back room of the Doctor’s Office. Information on the historical role of the rural physician and methods of treatment were displayed along with images of Bassett Hospital from The Farmers’ Museum collection. An assortment of 19th-century medicines, medical instruments, and current day agricultural safety equipment were included in the exhibition. A major theme was to document how the development of vaccines, new medical techniques, and, more recently, expanded access to health insurance has improved the safety and health of agricultural communities which are challenged by their distance from urban centers of medical care.
Sugaring Off Sundays has become a popular springtime tradition for families and friends from the Cooperstown area, and indeed throughout the region. A full pancake breakfast was served each Sunday morning in March, and the Otsego County Maple Producers were on hand to talk about maple sugaring and offer local maple products for sale.
After breakfast, patrons could visit the farm and historic village. Farm staff demonstrated both historic and modern maple sap gathering and processing, which included teaching visitors how to tap trees and boil the sap. Demonstrators also showed young and old how to make “Jack Wax,” which is hot, thickened maple syrup poured over snow. After breakfast and learning about maple syrup, visitors could ride the Empire State Carousel and visit the shops in the historic village. Another main attraction of Sugaring Off Sundays is a ride in the farm wagon, pulled by Dick and Doc, our impressive team of Percheron draft horses. We had a great attendance this year, with over 2,700 guests attending this harbinger of spring.
The Farmers’ Museum Collection Highlights & Acquisitions
Our collections acquisitions for 2018 illustrate the breadth of interests encompassed by The Farmers’ Museum. We continue to collect images of Rural New York through the Plowline initiative, the only collection of its type in existence. Our acquisitions of documentary images of agriculture in communities from Jamestown in Western New York to Long Island and everything in between illustrate diverse processes from canning and cheese making to dairying and crop harvesting. These photographs join the nearly 14,000 images currently comprising this fast-growing collection. Other acquisitions fill gaps in our renowned collection of agriculture tools and equipment, and document historic wallpaper of the type found in the Museum’s historic houses.
2018 Collections Acquisitions
Photographic print. Image of the Lee canning factory and staff in Hamilton, NY by Dale Vargason, ca. 1900. Museum Purchase.
Film negatives. Group of negatives documenting migrant workers in potato, cabbage and other vegetable fields on Long Island, ca. 1968, AA Antiques. Museum Purchase.
Stereographs. Two keystone view stereographs of cheese making and butter making process at a plant in East Aurora, NY, ca. 1910, Champlain Valley Antique Center. Museum Purchase.
Photographs, Glass Plate Negatives and Real Photo Postcards. Photographic images of creameries from New York State hamlets, farm stores, a livery in St. Jamestown, NY and workers posing inside Valley Creamery. Full tintype of a man posed with his best horse. Museum Purchase.
Photographs, Photo Albums, and Real Photo Postcards. Includes a photograph of a toll gate in Madison County, ca. 1870, a photograph of a milk factory in Cincinnatus, NY, ca. 1910 and a real photo postcard showing farms near the Essex, NY railroad station, ca. 1908. Museum Purchase.
13 Glassplates and 6 Postcards depicting Leonardsville, Waterville, Milford, Earlville, Cinncinatus. Two advertisement cards, one cabinet card depicting Plattsburg. Handwritten “Hop Expense” sheet for Charlie Larkin; pay for pickers & names, payment for drying, preserving, tagging, insurance etc. Showcase Antiques of Central New York. Museum Purchase.
Three legged spider skillet. Museum Purchase.
Plaiter patented by Anderson and Rorke in 1876. Gift of Noel and David Payton.
Wellhead. Wood and iron wellhead from Roxbury, NY near the original location of the More House. Gift of Christopher Ohstrom.
Wallpaper fragment. Removed from a farmhouse in Schuylerville, NY. This is the same home from which the wallpaper in the dining room of the More House is based. Gift of Christopher Ohstrom.
Photographic print. A young girl pulling a cart pulled by a billy goat, ca. 1900-1910. Anonymous gift.
Wheel jacks. One handmade wooden and one commercial metal wheel jack. Gift of Alberta Eaves.
Plowline: Images of Rural New York Collection
Farming, farm households, and the rural communities they are in have rapidly evolved over the last two centuries. From the labor intensive, small, diversified farms once dotting the rural New York landscape, to the large, specialized farms of the 21st century, the transformation that has been spurred by technological innovation has been vast and complete. As Plowline entered its eighth year as a collection of original photography documenting these changes, the museum has paid particular attention to assembling a cohesive collection to provide context for objects, start conversations, and build community relationships.
Focusing on making our collection the foremost example of its type, we have begun to make connections to institutions to utilize our collections, focusing on images from their region. One such institution is The Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY which will stage an exhibition of photographs taken by The Northern Survey Company of which 14 images from our collection, along with approximately 90 others from private and public collections will be displayed in 2019.
With continued generous support by the Gipson Family, this collection will become a national example of its type, continuing to become more refined, more well-known, and more highly regarded as a collection that explores the tireless work of our forbearers, and the history of agriculture in New York State.
2018 Gala Highlights
On July 20th, Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum held their annual summer gala. The theme of the event was inspired by the Thomas Cole exhibition at the Fenimore. The event was held at the Iroquois Stable and Greenhouses for the first time in its history, which allowed guests to tour the museums’ art collections in the storage facility on site. Upon arrival to the gala, guests were greeted by “vine people” on stilts, and serenaded by a harp player. As always, the evening included a delicious meal and the excitement of live and silent auctions. The guests pledged just under $9,000 of support for New York History Day programming.
2018 Gala Donors:
Miss Jane Forbes Clark
Alice Busch Gronewaldt Foundation
Malesardi Family Foundation
Tom Morgan & Erna McReynolds Charitable Foundation
$2,500 – $4,999
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew M. Blum
Marc and Elaine Bresee
Robert and Nellie Gipson
Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Hanft
Mr. Robert Nelson and Mr. Van B. Ramsey
Dr. Jeffrey Pressman and Dr. Nancy Kollisch
Strategic Financial Services
Dawn and Alfred Tinger
Dr. and Mrs. Todd Wetzel
$1,000 – $2,499
Dr. Jacqueline M. Atkins and Dr. Edward G. Atkins
Mr. Fritz Rosenorn-Lehn and Ms. Helene Bonnier
Mr. Gary Cassinelli and Mr. Nick Preston
Cooperstown Natural Foods
Dr. Paul S. and Anna T. D’Ambrosio
Mr. and Mrs. Steven D. Glazer
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen M. Gotwald
Mr. Charles T. Hage and Mrs. Ursula Hage
Dr. and Mrs. Lewis L. Hamilton
Mr. and Mrs. Kevin Harris
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Harris
Mr. and Mrs. Gates Helms Hawn
The Honorable and Mrs. M. Langhorne Keith
Dr. and Mrs. August Leinhart
Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Older
Paperkite Creative Communications
Patricia M. & H. William Smith Jr. Foundation
Jacqueline Perez and Neeraj Kochhar
Mr. Roland Sanchez and Ms. Mary Gadomski
Mr. and Mrs. Robert B. Schlather
Ms. Cozata Solloway and Mr. Michael Shipman
Mr. and Mrs. Edward W. Stack
Mr. and Mrs. John B. Stetson
Francesca Zambello and Faith Gay
$500 – $999
Bank of Cooperstown
Beekman 1802 LLC
Mr. Stephen M. Cadwalader
Mr. Peyton Franklin Carter III
Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Church
Dr. and Mrs. Douglas E. Evelyn
Fenimore Asset Management, Inc.
Ms. Kathleen Flanagan and Mr. Tim O’Donoghue
Mrs. Veronica Gil Seaver
Dr. Elizabeth B. Harvey
Mr. and Mrs. Tim Horvath
Mr. Thomas Lagan and Ms. Kristen Bellois
Tim and Alison Lord
Mr. and Mrs. Jason McCoy
Dr. Bertine McKenna and Mr. Patrick McKenna
Joseph and Martha Membrino
Mr. and Mrs. J. Michael Moffat
Dr. and Mrs. Randy Parkhurst
James and Stephanie Patrick
Mr. and Mrs. Alexander J. Shields
Mr. and Mrs. Bruno Talevi
Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Thompson
Mr. Martin Tillapaugh and Ms. Meg Tillapaugh
Gifts to $500
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas M. Barry
Dr. and Mrs. Robert E. Booth, Jr.
Mr. and Mrs. Galen Criqui
Mr. and Mrs. Gaylord Dillingham
Mrs. Martha S. Grossi
Dr. Margaret M. Healy
Ms. Danielle Henrici and Mr. Michael Henrici
Mr. and Mrs. Philip R. Holz
Mr. Christopher P. Hulse and Mrs. Jennifer Hulse
Mr. and Mrs. Dennis Jakubowicz
Vera and Pepi Jelinek
Mr. Kent Jones and Mrs. Bonnie McGuire Jones
Mr. Robert Kent
Ms. Elizabeth Ketterson and Mr. Robert Graepel
Mr. Charles B. Kieler
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Mahon
Robert and Doris Fischer Malesardi
Ms. Paula H. Newman
Dr. and Mrs. Donald A. Raddatz
Jerry and Marisabel Raymond
Mr. and Mrs. Richard Scurry
Royal Hyundai Oneonta, LLC
Mr. and Mrs. Bruno Talevi
The Honorable Ellen R. Tillapaugh and Mr. Gary M. Kuch
Ms. Catherine Tuttle
Ms. Christine Van Deusen
Mr. and Mrs. Hugh K. Webster
Mrs. Lynn Weddington Tucker
Mrs. Linda Wilcox and Mr. James Johnson