GLENS FALLS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – On Warren Street, a storied art museum is celebrating a big birthday. The Hyde Collection turns 60 this year, and on Thursday, the curators and managers behind the museum came to talk about the art to come in Glens Falls, and to introduce the new talent bringing it to town.
John Lefner – who will step in as CEO of the Hyde Collection effective May 1 – stood in the collection’s main gallery space, speaking about what the museum has in store for its 60th year. He announced “Songs of the Horizon: David Smith, Music, & Dance,” an exhibition coming to the museum in June. The exhibit is set to feature over 25 works by 20th-century sculptor David Smith, along with his wife, Dorothy Dehner.
“They illuminate the influence that song and dance had on David Smith’s creations, and his life, while telling many captivating stories about the artist’s deep connections to our region,” said Lefner. Smith is a former Bolton Landing local, with an estate still maintained along the west side of Lake George.
The act of curation and arranging an exhibit is an enormous task for any museum. Within the last year, the Hyde Collection has staffed up to meet the task, with the addition of two new curators. Dr. Derin Tanyol was introduced as the museum’s new Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, alongside Dr. Bryn Schockmel as Curator of the Permanent Collection.
For Dr. Tanyol, the job is one of branching out across the timeline of art. The Hyde retains robust collections of work by 16th-century artist Peter Paul Rubens, as well as an equally-beloved Rembrandt collection. Although those classics have unmeasurable value to the museum, Tanyol wants to reach further along the timeline, and balance out the classic with the contemporary.
Thursday’s event took place inside Tanyol’s first project. The Hyde’s current featured exhibit is “The Harmon and Harriet Kelley Collection of African American Art: Works on Paper,” which Tanyol described as a comprehensive timeline of great African American artists, ranging from graphic artist Grafton Tyler Brown to printmaker Margo Humphrey, with more than two dozen artists in all.
“The show has very clear narrative threads,” Tanyol explained. “When you walk around the gallery, you’ll see that it’s arranged thematically. Moving clockwise, there are themes of urban and rural labor, then landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes; then portraits, family and community, recreation and leisure, and modernism and abstraction.”
While Tanyol’s work seeks experiences new to the collection, Dr. Schockmel’s centers around the extensive permanent collection stored between the historic Hyde House and the museum vault. Collected by founder Charlotte Hyde and spanning nearly six centuries of work, that collection offers ample opportunity to plan and design exhibitions of works that make their own statement, tell their own story, and serve as their own segments of the Hyde Collection’s genetic code.
In her first month at the Hyde, Schockmel has started work on two of those stories. She is curating two exhibitions set to open this spring. One is a selection of works that haven’t been taken out of the vault in some time, as a way to celebrate 60 years by showing finds that museum regulars may not have seen before. By contrast, the second show is all-recent, with modern and contemporary works collected within the last five years. For both exhibitions, Schockmel is unafraid to delve into the collection and see what catches her eye.
“I start by looking at things in terms of what appeals to me,” Schockmel said. “There are artists I really love, that when I go down into the vault, I look at them, and there’s that moment where it just takes your breath away. I also wanted to have a real range of objects – things from the Renaissance up to Picasso – to appeal to visitors, whatever their tastes might be.”
The art of growth
The Hyde Collection’s art offerings are impressive for its modest downtown footprint – and the happenings at the museum don’t stop there. The Hyde also offers talks and educational programs, which have Education and Engagement Director Katelyn Foley as their new leader.
Much of Foley’s work has involved welcoming more and more learners, young and old, into those programs. After a 2020 shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hyde Collection ended 2022 with a visit rate that nearly reached pre-pandemic numbers. Staff are confident that the gap will close in 2023. In Foley’s department, those numbers break down into over 2,000 attendees to educational programs, performances and talks, including over 800 youth between the ages of 5 and 18.
The Hyde Collection isn’t the only Glens Falls-area arts organization on the grow. Last summer, the Arts District of Glens Falls project was formally launched. A sidewalk stamp declaring the district’s name is visible in front of the Hyde, which serves as one end of an arts trail connecting the World Awareness Children’s Museum, Crandall Public Library and other organizations before terminating at the Chapman Museum. Full-wall murals downtown, a painted Adirondack chair, and themed bike racks are all part of the effort, which has already made a footprint on Glens Falls.
In her first year with the Hyde, Foley has been the museum’s representative within the Arts District. The message she hears from her neighbors at the table? Everyone wants to help everyone grow.
“It really is a wonderful opportunity for us, as nonprofits and arts organizers within the city, to be able to unify around what the arts provides our community. We can then advocate for how the arts are so important and essential to our lives,” Foley said. “It’s been a lot about bringing awareness to all of these organizations.”
The Hyde Collection is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Thursday-Sunday, with extended evening hours coming to the third Thursday of every month starting this March. The museum’s 32nd annual high school juried show is set to open in May.