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October 4, 2013

Area museums see rise in attendance

By Katharine Morgan Contributing writer
The Daily Star

---- — While museum attendance across the country has been on the decline over the past decade, the Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum both increased their attendance this summer.

The Fenimore featured the work of such artists as Andrew Wyeth and his family, Susan Fenimore Cooper Weil, the Hudson River Series and the Native American exhibit, “Splendidly Dressed.”

The Fenimore said it had a 25 percent increase in visitors compared to past seasons, while The Farmers' Museum also experienced a heavier attendance than past years.

The New York Times recently wrote that the Fenimore houses “a collection any museum in the world should envy.”

Todd Kenyon, the director of marketing and communications for the Fenimore, attributes the increased attendance to visiting collections.

He said the opportunity to see the Wyeth family’s work in one location was a factor in the increase. He also credited the Hudson River School exhibit with bringing in visitors from outside the area.

“People like seeing the Hudson River School paintings here,” he said. “Viewing the environment-focused paintings in the same environment in which they were created adds to the whole experience. We are dedicated to integrating art history and including under-appreciated genres, primarily American Folk Art and American Indian Art, in a broad and progressive American canon.

“We aim to honor the extraordinary ability of ordinary people to shape American culture,” Kenyon said.

A recent addition to the museum may have helped late-summer attendance: The work of late local artist Susan Cooper Weil.

Named for her ancestor, Susan Fenimore Cooper, the daughter of novelist James Fenimore Cooper, Weil’s exhibit has helped bring in more local visitors.

Although the Farmers’ Museum attendance numbers were not as high, a higher attendance was reported this year.

“I took my youngest grandson, Benny, to ride the carousel,” said Lorinda Morgan of Treadwell. “The New York sculptures adorning the carousel are spectacular. I took my grandchildren to ride the carousel, and I ended up dragging them out of the old school house.”

Morgan said she has a special place in her heart for her local museums, citing the Fenimore and the Farmers’ as two of her favorites.

“The kids were enthralled, sitting in the desks, stripped of all chances of Facebook, tweet, post, text,” she said. “They actually never wanted to leave. Needless to say, what started out as a ride turned into a true learning experience.”