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Hudson River Museum’s Centennial: Looking to the Future by Embracing the Past

"Clarivel with Black Blouse with White Ribbon" by Mickalene Thomas (© 2019 Mickalene Thomas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)
"Clarivel with Black Blouse with White Ribbon" by Mickalene Thomas (© 2019 Mickalene Thomas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

As the Hudson River Museum (HRM) celebrates its centennial, it looks to the future by embracing the past. At the forefront of its new mission is a fierce commitment to engaging with its diverse community through art, sciences and history. As such, its upcoming exhibitions and programming are a reflection of that community. As it reinforces its vision, a robust range of subject matters, exhibiting artists and supporting events will allow local visitors to recognize themselves and their own stories in the Museum’s narrative.

Through Our Eyes: Milestones and Memories of African Americans in Yonkers, on view through 11/3, is a prime example. Through this exhibition, the Museum acts on its commitment to cull a collection that is representative of the people it serves while also tackling topics of social justice. It is the culmination of a year-long project during which HRM collected 100 years of photographs and objects that document the lives of the African American population that makes up part of the fabric of Yonkers’ rich tapestry.

Throughout the year, HRM serves its community with free programming related to the arts sciences and history. For example, supplemental events further explore the topics in each exhibition; a diverse lineup of free music, dance and theater are offered in its 400-seat outdoor amphitheater throughout the summer; and an award-winning educational program introduces the arts and sciences to local students. Its walls don a permanent collection replete with gems that are as significant as they are relevant to the Museum and its surroundings – from Hudson River School painters of the mid-19th century to the recent acquisition of a work by Mickalene Thomas.  According to HRM’s Executive Director Masha Turchinsky, the Thomas acquisition, Clarivel with Black Blouse with White Ribbon, “demonstrates the Museum’s ongoing commitment to making [its] collections and program offerings more inclusive and representative of the communities [it] serve[s].” Another exhibition currently on view through 8/18, Can I Get a Witness: Photographs by Herb Snitzer, displays photographs that celebrate individuals from every walk of life.  Many of the images document the struggle for equal rights, from Pride parades to the 2017 Women’s March.​

This type of ambitious programming is indicative of HRM’s goal to not only represent its community, but also serve and enrich it for another hundred years. The Museum aims to stem the tide of what is sometimes a focal point of criticism in the art world – a lack of diversity and representation of minorities. In fact, Through Our Eyes has helped to nurture an active dialog between the Museum and its local community: the outpouring of responses included Yonkers residents and local businesses whose stories hadn’t previously seen the light of day.

For more info on Hudson River Museum, visit hrm.org.

"No Justice in AmeriKKKa" by Jessica Greene / photograph courtesy of Westchester County Archives
"No Justice in AmeriKKKa" by Jessica Greene / photograph courtesy of Westchester County Archives

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