Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Interning @ Fenimore Art Museum

By Emma Porter, Curatorial Intern

Hi! My name is Emma Porter and I am a volunteer curatorial intern at the Fenimore Art Museum this summer. In December, I will graduate from S.U.N.Y Geneseo as an art history major. I am very excited to share my experience as an intern and hope it creates a space for learning, discussion and exploration.

All of the staff here at Fenimore are so helpful and they all work together as a team. Communication is critical to everyone here, and that is what makes this museum so prolific and run so effectively. For example, I was given my internship projects at a table with the Director of Exhibitions, Michelle Murdock, Associate Curator of Exhibitions, Chris Rossi and Preparator, Stephen Loughman. Each project was explained to me thoroughly and there was active dialogue amongst all of us. I love the communication; it does make the world go around! Something Michelle told me my first day was that I should look at museums and, all of my surroundings for that matter, as a curator. This is a different way of seeing and I am confident that by the end of my internship here, I will be able to “see” like a curator.  There is a lot to look forward to this summer at the Fenimore, and I cannot wait to visit in the fall and in 2012 to see the final products of our research and planning.

Also notable is the close tie between the Fenimore and The Farmers’ Museum, a rural life museum that gives an up close and personal view of life in the 19th century in New York. I love the stoneware collection in the Herkimer Kitchen and the wallpaper in the Jonas More House. When you visit, be sure to take time to pet the baby sheep in the Smith Morey Barn.

Currently at the Feimore, there is the A Window into Edward Hopper exhibition in the Scriven Gallery on the second floor. It tells the story of what Hopper chose to focus on in the places he temporarily or permanently resided in New England, such as Gloucester, MA and Rockland, ME. His wife Jo was his main model for his well-known works depicting lonely people in Manhattan cityscapes and desolate interiors. The Glimmerglass Festival, just down the road from Fenimore, is adopting the opera called Later The Same Evening which is based on five on Hopper’s paintings from is Manhattan period. The exhibition at Fenimore was developed in conjunction with the Festival's production.


I am currently looking at the work of Tasha Tudor, an icon for the “home-grown,” and “back to the old way” lifestyle. Tudor lived in Vermont and aimed to mimic a life from the rural 1830s. The Fenimore is planning an exhibition of her paintings, drawings, and holiday cards, along with other artifacts from her life. It is obvious how Tudor’s work and lifestyle are relevant to both the Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum. I am looking through her images that the Fenimore is borrowing from the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, and figuring out how to tie in images from the Farmers’ Museum with the labels that will be in Fenimore. For example, the label for Tudor’s In April the Birds Return (below) could feature a photograph of two of The Farmers’ Museum’s own oxen yolked and plowing the farm field.

Children and gardens are prevalent in Tudor's work. Gardens can be seen as a metaphor for the intellectual and physical growth of children. Tudor published a Caldecott Honor children’s book that counts to ten using flowers. The Farmers’ Museum has a children’s garden near the Dimmick House. To provide an connection between the Fenimore and the Farmers’ Museum, I think a children’s gardening workshop that incorporates Tudor’s work, especially her children’s books illustrations, would be a lot of fun.

I'll keep you posted as my internship progresses!

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