New York State Museum, panel discussion on:
Urban Renewal and Performance Art
In conjunction with the Living Walls, Albany Festival, Erik Hokanson and Jill McDermid-Hokanson have been invited join a panel discussion on Urban Renewal and Performance Art
About the New York State Museum of Art by Museum Director, Cliff Siegfried
The economic downturn has placed a great deal of stress on museums and historical societies in New York state. Many have seen endowments dwindle while gifts and sponsorships have become more difficult to secure. The State Museum has not been immune to financial difficulties�periodic spending and hiring restrictions have been part of our operational landscape for many years. It�s in the difficult times when the enthusiasm and creativity of our staff spark a true appreciation for the privilege and responsibility of being director of the State Museum. A few examples from the first half of the year:
We�ve had to cancel cleaning contracts with outside vendors. In response, staff organized a �strike team,� made a plan, and set out to clean the galleries. Their pride in presenting the most welcoming experience for our visitors while protecting the objects on exhibit drove them to step up and voluntarily work beyond expectations.
Federal stimulus funds have been awarded to realize our vision of the Day Peckinpaugh, the Museum�s 1921 motor ship, as a traveling museum and educational presence on the state�s waterways. This support is wonderful recognition of the value of the Museum�s collections and the importance of our educational mission.
Staff, working with outside exhibit planners and designers, completed the design phases for our new natural history gallery and new history gallery. These galleries will transform the visitor experience, and our commitment to these projects continues despite the sometimes daunting economic challenges.
Visitors often ask how I cope with such financial difficulties and uncertainties. I tell them I take pride in the Museum�s legacy�and in our stewardship of more than 12 million artifacts and specimens representing New York�s past�knowing we continue to inspire our visitors with the discoveries they make. Most of all, I take pride in and appreciate the steadfast dedication of our staff. I invite you to come to the Museum and meet them!
Cliff Siegfried Director, New York State Museum
About the New York State Museum of Art
Welcome to �A History of the New York State Museum.� The New York State Museum, located in the capital city of Albany, New York, is a major research and educational institution that, by law, conducts systematic investigations into the geology, biology, anthropology and history of New York. It is mandated to disseminate the results of this work through its educational and advisory services to benefit the economy, environment, health and education of the people of the State. The Museum hosts more than 750,000 visitors each year, making it one of the largest cultural attractions in the state.
It is a research museum, one of a select and vital group of institutions charged by our society with both preserving and investigating the material record of our past. It is the only such institution which takes New York State, its natural and cultural heritage, as its mandate.
So, why present a history of the New York State Museum? For me, it�s part pride and part obligation. The New York State Museum has played a vital role in the discovery of knowledge in the natural sciences and in the dissemination of this knowledge through its exhibitions and programs. Our collections document the dawn of science in North America and established the role of museum collections in documenting its community. This legacy is, of course, a source of great pride for me and the staff of the Museum. With that legacy comes an obligation � an obligation to continue the legacy of excellence in research, collection care and public programming but also an obligation to share that legacy with our public.
By sharing this legacy we help advance public understanding of the role of research museums in society. This understanding, in turn, helps to assure the continued strength and vitality of the New York State Museum for all future New Yorkers.
Cliff Siegfried Director, New York State Museum, August 2008