Hudson River Museum

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Gilded Age Magic
May 26 – September 9, 2012

Modern stage magic has its roots in the Gilded Age showmanship of Harry Kellar (1849-1922), who performed around the world but made Yonkers his home between tours.  With his theatrical spectacles, Kellar founded a “Royal Dynasty” of American magicians including Harry Houdini (1874-1926), a friend and colleague of Kellar’s later years, and Howard Thurston (1869-1936), with whom Kellar toured at the end of his career. These modern magicians cultivated a debonair stage persona that set them apart from earlier traveling sideshow artists, who dressed and posed as traditional Chinese conjurers. Despite the supernatural imagery on their posters, these magicians were not occultists but entertainers. Part of their audience appeal was the mystery of how their illusions were accomplished, not any claims to supernatural powers. The exhibition will feature vintage theatrical posters, costumes and magic ephemera from little seen private collections as well as planned performances in the galleries by local magician Benjamin Levy and others.


Westchester Women and War: Portraits
May 26 – September 9, 2012

The Hudson River Museum celebrates the military service of women in Westchester CountyWestchester Women and War: Portraits was inspired by its World War II project to honor Yonkers women in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). The Museum at the time commissioned artist Francis Vandeveer Kughler (1901-1970) to capture the veterans’ likenesses on canvas. Kughler, who painted the portraits of over 40 veterans, hoped they would ensure that “future generations … have a living record of our fighting women.”  This summer is the first time Kughler’s 1940s pastel and oil portraits will be displayed at the Museum since 1953. Westchester women continue to serve their country today in every branch of the military. Adding to the historical portraits, Westchester Women and War: Portraits includes 12 newly commissioned photographs of contemporary women veterans, who grew up in Westchester or have made the County their home.
Margaret Moulton, a Hastings-on-Hudson resident, will photograph the veterans. Moulton’s work appeared inPictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Her photographs are in the collections of MOMA and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art as well as private collections in the United States and Europe.
Women featured in this year’s photographs include Technical Sergeant Crystal Radcliff, a Navy veteran currently working for the Air National Guard, Gloria Sosin, a World War II WAC, and Olivia Hooker, the first African-American woman to integrate the Coast Guard in 1945. Two of the museum’s 1944 portraits, Marguerite Chase and Jennie George Lee, are also testament to the importance of African Americans’ military service to the civil-rights movement. Pfc. Lee and Pfc. Chase were real-life examples of “Rosie the Riveter,” already working at the GM Eastern Aircraft plant in Tarrytown before they enlisted. After the summer exhibition closes, the stories and images of these brave women will be part of the Hudson River Museum’s archival collections.


Miniscule Manse Moves to New Gallery
November 27, 2011

There’s a house moving at the Hudson River Museum. It’s Nybelwyck Hall, a 24 room dollhouse that will be seen and enjoyed in its own gallery starting Friday, November 27.

Dollhouse enthusiast Mark O’Banks created Nybelwyck Hall, over the course of a decade and looked to the wisdom of a ouija board to name his creation. The house is furnished with found objects and rugs O’Banks designed. Among its 900 objects are minute musical instruments that play, doors with intricate locks that work, and a tiny dollhouse within the dollhouse’s nursery.

Nybelwyck Hall does more than present Lilliputian life at its most luxurious.  The Nybelwick family, “one of the oldest of Dutch ancestry in the Hudson River Valley,” are having a “theatrical moment,” as they bustle to prepare an engagement party for Celestine Von Nybelwyck, daughter of the house, who does not love her intended. Like all families, each Nybelwick is a member, living, laughing, and scheming. The Nybelwycks who occupy or visit the Hall include Dad, “Old” Bostwyck Van Nybelwyck; an elf, who watches over the family; eccentric Aunt Glencora, who lives in the attic; ghosts, a music teacher, a raft of nieces and nephews, and servants.

Nybelwyck Hall evokes Hudson River homes still seen today. The Museum’s historic home, Glenview, a  24-room, granite-and-mortar home and Nybelwyck, the 24-room dollhouse, share architectural features — a Great Hall and a double staircase that curves from the top floor down to the Hall. Nybelwyck’s central facade is loosely based on the Hudson River estate, Staatsburg, the Ogden Mills House. The orange-and-green colors on its Victorian addition are reminiscent of Wilderstein, in Rhinebeck, the family home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s personal secretary.

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