Tag Archives: Museum

W is for Waterfront

Located at 290 Conover St, Brooklyn, NY 11231
Museum Website:  https://waterfrontmuseum.org/

Waterfront Museum

The Waterfront Museum, founded in 1985, is located in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It is housed aboard the 1914 Lehigh Valley Barge #79, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The museum aims to preserve the city’s maritime history and waterfront traditions and promote an understanding of the importance of our water highway for commerce, carrying commuters, culture, and recreation. 

The museum provides free and low-cost opportunities for education, exhibition, and the performance arts abroad the barge.

Open year-round, the museum offers free tours every Thursday 4 to 8 pm and Saturday 1 to 5 pm. In addition, school and group tours are offered by appointment.

The barge was built in 1914, for the Lehigh Valley Railroad, to carry cargo across the New York Harbor. It is an example of transport prior to the container system, where cargo to and from ships had to be transported to the railroad depots for distribution or further transport. Barges were also used to transfer much of the freight from rail to water, and float it to its destination. It was done this way until a road system blanketed the region, and trucks took over the local distribution.

Lehigh Valley #79 is the only surviving example of its kind afloat today. 

The barge which was functioning till 1941, was acquired by David Sharps in 1985 and turned into a maritime museum. It had to undergo extensive repairs and refurbishing of the superstructure before it could be afloat and moved.

The historic vessel operated from Liberty State Park in Jersey City, Hoboken, Piermont, NY, and South Street Seaport in NYC, before moving to its permanent homeport Red Hook, Brooklyn in 1994.

A former dumping area into was transformed, with the help of volunteers, to an example of open space and waterfront development. 

The museum’s permanent collection includes artifacts that tell the story of the barge and what it used to be used for, a large collection of barge and ship models, and tons of information on maritime history and traditions.

The barge had a cabin on top where the barge captain and family would have lived. This cabin was cut off and put in the stern of the barge as the captain’s quarters. David Sharps also built up the belowdecks part of the barge where his family lived.

The museum holds several arts programs for youth and entertainment programs throughout the year. An area of the main deck has been transformed as a stage for this purpose. You can see a list of upcoming events on the museum’s website.

As barges do not have engines, they have to be towed around by tug boats. The Waterfront Museum has an interesting collection of tug boat signs on its walls.

Another attraction is the bell board of the Orange Ferry that ran between Beacon and Orange.

A large sign ‘Women’ did not indicate the ladies’ room, but the half of the boat where women could go on. 

A cute little flower patch grows in shoes on the outside deck of the museum.

During the barge’s functioning years, cargo was carried on the main deck. You can see the barn door and the hatches through which cargo was handled in and out.

It is interesting to see the ‘Fender’, a rope contraption created by wrapping rope over rope, and used over the sides to protect the vessels as well as the dock.

A beautiful George Rhoads audio kinetic ball machine adds to the charm of the place. And the views… the Verrazzano Bridge, the Statue of Liberty… there is nothing to beat the views from the barge.

27 Apr 2023

Q is for Queens

Located at 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Queens, NY 11004
Museum Website:  https://www.queensfarm.org/

Queens County Farm Museum

Queens County Farm Museum is a working farm, dating back to 1697 and occupies New York City’s largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland. The farm is one of the longest continuously farmed sites in New York State. The site includes historic farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, farm vehicles and implements, planting fields, an orchard, apiary, and a herb garden.

Queens County Farm Museum is a New York City Landmark, on the National Register of Historic Places and a member of the Historic House Trust of New York City.

The farm was privately owned by a Dutch family, the Adriances, from 1697 to 1808, after which year it was owned by a series of families. In 1926, the farm was sold to Creedmoor State Hospital. The hospital used it for occupational therapy, to stock its kitchen, and to grow ornamental plants for the rest of the hospital campus. 

In 1975, NYC Parks acquired the farm from the hospital for the purpose of starting a museum.

Queens County Farm Museum, also known as Queens Farm, provides an opportunity for urbanites to connect with agriculture and the natural environment.

The 47-acre farm has plenty of learning opportunities for people of any age, but especially for children. The farm is owned by the New York City Department of Parks and is operated by the Colonial Farmhouse Restoration Society of Bellerose, Inc.

The restored Adriance Farmhouse, the centerpiece of the farm complex, was first built as a three-room Dutch farmhouse in 1772. Certain dates each month, you can take tours of the historical farm house.

The Farmy Scavenger Hunt at Queens Farm, a free family program, is aimed at PreK to 5th grade children to help them discover and learn about plants, animals and the history of the farm.

At the Con Edison Reading Room, open year-round, visitors can relax with a book or magazine while visiting the farm. This was originally built as a summer kitchen and most recently was used for the farm’s tomato storage. You will find books related to cooking, gardening, the environment, health and wellness, animals, farming, science and NYC history at the reading room.

If you are interested in taking part in the Apple Blossom Carnival, now is the time! It is being held April 22-23 and 28-30, 2023. 

You can check out all the museum programs on the Events and Programs page of the museum website.

The Farm Store at Queens Farm is a wonderful place to find unique items for the home and garden including Queens Farm products, locally-made gifts, and educational toys and books.

Farm-fresh eggs from the variety of heritage-breed hens raised at the farm, raw, local wildflower honey, an assortment of herbal teas like lemongrass, nettles, lemon verbena, raspberry leaf, tulsi etc produced from plants grown at Queens Farm, yarn from the farm’s alpacas and cotswold sheep, some naturally-dyed using dye plants grown on the farm… these are some of the goodies available for sale at the Farm Store.

The Farm Store also sells a range of seasonal plants from spring through fall. 

Animal feeding, sheep shearing, pumpkin patches, tractor pulled hayrides a maize maze… lots of seasonal things (some are ticketed) are happening at the Queens Farm. Be sure to check out their happenings page for the year.

The Annual Queens County Fair, a traditional agricultural fair with competitions in produce, arts and crafts, takes place at the farm. This year it is scheduled for the September 8 to 10, with pie eating and corn husking contests, hayrides, carnival rides, and games. Tickets for this event can be purchased online.

Queens Farm also offers educational programs for students and adults, the details of which are on the museum website.

20 Apr 2023

M is for Maritime

Located at 6 Pennyfield Ave, Bronx, NY 10465, within the SUNY Maritime College campus
Museum Website:  https://www.sunymaritime.edu/aboutpublic-programs/maritime-industry-museum

Maritime Industry Museum

Among my list for this A to Z Blogging Challenge, this will be the least known. Surprisingly, not even many native New Yorkers (Is there a word ‘New York Citian’?) are aware of this museum. 

The Maritime Industry Museum is a treasure trove of information about the seafaring industry, its origin and development in the western world, with specific reference to New York. The stated mission of the Maritime Industry Museum is “to collect, restore, preserve and interpret artifacts, photographs, art and writings celebrating all facets of the Maritime Industry ashore and afloat”.

The museum is located in historic Fort Schuyler, within the campus of the SUNY (State University of New York) Maritime College. Its location right below the Throgs Neck Bridge offers a unique view of the bridge and Manhattan further ahead.

The museum was established in 1986 as a true labor of love. It was an idea of Captain Jeffrey W. Monroe, then Associate Professor of Marine Transportation at SUNY Maritime College to provide a location to display the rich heritage of the maritime industry for the general public, in addition to a resource for the college’s cadets.

With the help and contributions from the college’s staff, alumni and student body the museum was filled with photographs and paintings of ships, and its passageways flooded with showcases displaying nautical artifacts from the seven seas.

Since then, steamship lines, related companies in the maritime industry, and private collectors have donated hundreds of artifacts to supplement the museum’s collection. Today, the Maritime Industry Museum has over 2,000 items on display, and thousands of other items in its archives, which will be preserved for future generations.

This is a hidden gem of a museum is a testament to the importance of shipping and the seafaring way of life to the modern global society.

The first European to settle in the lands that Fort Schuyler stands today was John Throgmorton, who obtained a license to settle on the peninsula which now bears his name on October 2, 1642, according to recorded history. The place gets its name, Throgg’s Neck, from this original inhabitant. Four sides of the fort’s irregular pentagon-shaped edifice face Long Island Sound and its juncture with the East River.

With the idea of constructing a fort to protect New York from attack by sea, a tract of 52 acres of land was purchased by the Federal Government in 1826. In December 1845, the fort was completed. It is named after for the Continental Army General Philip Schuyler, who commanded the Northern Army.

In 1932, military operations at the fort were ended and in 1934, it became the home of the New York State Merchant Marine Academy.

In cooperation with the Eastern Dive Boat Association, the Maritime Industry Museum at Fort Schuyler has artifacts from many local shipwrecks of different time periods, like from the Cunard liner Oregon.

The museum has many unique artifacts ranging from the Clipper Ship era to the present. 

The extensive collection of ship models, some up to 6 feet in length, is a major part of the museum. Some of the valuable large scale models include those of the liners S.S. Bremen, S.S. Reliance, S.S. Hansa ,S.S. Argentina Maru, and S.S. Saturnia.

The library has maritime industry books, periodicals, documents, papers, prints, photographs, and old steamship company records.

There are so many artifacts related to the history on New York and its seafaring environment. The museum is an excellent reminder that maritime trade is how and why New York City has grown into the international center of industry that it has.

The Maritime College has active classrooms inside the museum.

The Maritime Industry Museum is spread over two floors, with many galleries which are full with charts, historical documents, advertising posters from bygone times, paintings, ship parts, and shipping related instruments and tools.

In addition to browsing the artifacts and maps relevant to maritime trade from the earliest Atlantic fishermen to mid-20th-century supertankers, Fort Schuyler itself is an interesting place to visit.

The winding stone steps, of the spiral staircase going up the fort’s towers, are a real charm. 

Even the forgotten ship disasters like General Slocum, Morro Castle, Andrea Doria, etc. are not forgotten here.

Outside the museum, the grounds offer great views all around.

This museum is quite enjoyable, and one learns a lot in the process, even if you don’t have any knowledge of, or interest in ships and shipbuilding. There is so much history living in its galleries!

15 Apr 2023

K is for King

Located at 150-03 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica NY 11432
Museum Website:  https://www.kingmanor.org/

King Manor Museum

The King Manor Museum is the original country estate of Rufus King, a member of the Continental Congress, a framer and signer of the Constitution, one of the first senators from New York State, the ambassador to Great Britain under four presidents, and an outspoken opponent of slavery. It is a very well organized, gem of a museum.

King bought this house and property in 1805 and lived there with his wife Mary Alsop King, their five children, and hired help. After moving in full time, they enlarged the house and made renovations in 1810 and also expanded the property to 150 acres. A devoted scholar of agricultural science, Rufus focused on improving the land and experimenting with crops, turning it into a successful working farm.

King was a passionate advocate for the early anti-slavery movement in America and used his platforms as the first New York Senator and Ambassador to Great Britain to fight slavery in the United States.

After his death in 1827, Rufus’ eldest son John Alsop King bought the house and farm from his father’s estate. Like his father, John made his career in politics, serving in the New York State Assembly, U.S. Congress, and as Governor of New York from 1857 to 1859. 

John carried on his father’s legacy of anti-slavery advocacy and fought for the arrest of men who kidnapped free Black New Yorkers and sold them into slavery.

After the demise of Cornelia King, granddaughter of Rufus King, the house and grounds were purchased by the Village of Jamaica to be used as a park, in 1897. The King Manor Association was formed in 1900 with the purpose of caring for the house and the museum collection. The Association still exists and runs King Manor to this date. 

When the western half of Queens, including Jamaica, became part of the City of Greater New York, the house and the property were turned over to the New York City Parks Department which redesignated the land as Rufus King Park.

Dining Room of the house

King Manor Museum is part of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and has been declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark and an NYC Landmark.

The parlor, meant for immediate family, close friends, and long term guests

Today King Manor Museum is the second longest-running historic house museum in New York City. The museum is a picturesque edifice that stands in the center of the square block of Rufus King Park. It is a treasure-trove of 18th century information and stories, and contains furniture, furnishings, books, and pictures that date back to that era.

Room that was the master suite, now the exhibition room

When I visited last in October 2022, the annual Fall Festival was taking place at the grounds of the museum, with dozens of vendors, and a pumpkin patch for the children.

The guest bed room

The museum also on display some of the kitchen implements.

The museum provides an exhibition space, on the second-floor, for artisans to showcase their creative work in the community. The exhibits explore topics relevant to the social questions of the times. Each exhibition is on view for a few months at the museum. 

There are several online exhibitions, with interactive elements, available at the museum website.

Kings Manor Museum holds a number of programs on a regular basis. 

One of them is ‘Hands On History’, a family program series held each first and third Saturday of the month, from 1-4pm. You can find information about the workshops, school programs and special exhibitions at the museum on the Events Calendar.

Extensive grounds around the King Manor Museum

13 Apr 2023

I is for Indigenous 

Located at One Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004
Museum Website:  https://americanindian.si.edu/visit/reopening-ny

National Museum of the American Indian

This is actually two museums in one… the building itself and the exhibits within the building. The building, named Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House and completed in 1907, is itself a museum with its own history. 

 The magnificent architecture, the stunning sculptures on the exterior, the spectacular domed rotunda, the amazing artwork in the main hall… all these are subjects for another blog post. Here we are talking about the museum and its exhibits. 

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum complex. The museum’s collections had their origin as the personal collection of George Gustav Heye, a New Yorker who quit Wall Street to indulge his passion for American Indian artifacts. In 1916, with the collection totaling 58,000 objects, Heye founded the Museum of the American Indian at 155th and Broadway in New York. This museum was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1989.

Overall, Heye gathered some 800,000 pieces from throughout the Americas, the largest such collection ever compiled by one person.

The museum has one of the most extensive collections of native American arts and artifacts in the world. These around 825,000 items represent over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americas. Ranging from ancient Paleo-Indian artifacts to contemporary fine arts, the collections include works of aesthetic, religious, and historical significance as well as articles produced for everyday use.

When I last visited in November 2022, the exhibition ‘Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian’ was on. It consisted of more than 200 works of Native art from throughout North, Central, and South America, organized geographically and were a representation of the museum’s collection highlighting the historic importance of many of these iconic objects. This is a permanent exhibition.

As can be imagined, this exhibition is meant to illustrate the geographic and chronological scope of the museum’s collection.

Stunning examples representing each region included warriors’ robes, elaborately beaded women’s clothing, drums, carved and painted headdresses, water vessels, baskets, household implements etc. Also contemporary works of art by Native artists are displayed as part of the exhibition.

Another ongoing exhibition was ‘Native New York’, exploring the lives of native communities that called New York home for centuries. Long before there was a New York State, its lands encompassed thousands of Native towns, cornfields, fishing grounds, and hunting territories. European traders and other colonists migrated to these lands, intending to stay. This forced some Native New Yorkers to seek safety elsewhere. Other Native people managed to remain, and their descendants live here today. Still other Native communities moved into New York, seeking alliances and new homes. 

Native New York tells the story of these New Yorkers and how they fared through the years.

The exhibition leads you through path on the floor, to visit 12 New York places from Long Island to Niagara Falls.

By the end of this path, you would have been exposed to some uncomfortable facts, heard some heartrending stories of suffering, and learned histories not told in the books. 

The exhibition dispels several myths including the mother of them all that Manhattan was bought by the Europeans from the native inhabitants. 

Through the 12 places, visitors gain an expanded understanding of the region’s history and reveal that New York is, and always has been, a ‘Native place’.

The exhibition ‘Developing Stories: Native Photographers in the Field’, follows the work of Native photojournalists, three photo essays that provide insights into 21st-century Native lives. They portray stories that show the diversity and complexity of their contemporary lives.

imagiNATIONS Activity Center, provides visitors an interactive, opportunity to explore scientific principles behind Native innovations and technologies that are so ingenious, recommended for those 10 and older.

The National Museum of the American Indian is a great cultural resource, with something new for every one – a frequent visitor or someone on their first visit. 

You can enjoy conducted tours (schedule at the website) which provide a wealth of information. There are also a number of online exhibitions here: https://americanindian.si.edu/online-resources/exhibition-websites

11 Apr 2023