One of the prints on display at the University Art Museum's "Postcards: Binghamton Architecture" exhibit.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Art Museum to highlight architecture of Binghamton, NYC
February 14, 2012Tweet
The historic architecture and buildings of New York City and Binghamton will be celebrated this semester in two separate exhibits at the University’s Art Museum.
Opening March 8, “The Landmarks of New York” is a traveling exhibition based on the book of the same name by noted writer/activist Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel. The book, published by the State University of New York Press, features photos and descriptions of more than 1,200 landmarks and more than 100 historic districts that have been recognized by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The exhibit, which opened last fall at SUNY Plaza in Albany, will be in FA-213 through March 31. An opening reception will take place from 4-7 p.m. Thursday, March 8. Diamonstein-Spielvogel will attend the opening reception and sign copies of her books, which will be available for sale.
“I thought it would be a great idea to have this kind of exhibit at the museum,” said Jackie Hogan, assistant director of the Art Museum. “I really wanted (Diamonstein-Spielvogel) to be at the reception. … I’m looking forward to meeting her.”
“The Landmarks of New York” inspired Hogan to curate an exhibit that would pay tribute to Binghamton and its past. “Postcards: Binghamton Architecture” is now on display on the first floor of the Art Museum (FA-179) and will remain there through June 1. The exhibit offers postcard views of dozens of Binghamton landmarks from the early 1900s.
“I wanted to have an exhibit that would complement ‘The Landmarks of New York,’” Hogan said. “I wanted to push Binghamton, because Binghamton is so important. Instead of taking photos now, I went back further to show the past. The past is so important. Some of these buildings are still standing today.”
The framed prints feature sites such as the former New York State Inebriate Asylum, the Arlington Hotel, the old Press Building and the Kilmer Building. One postcard shows a small, single-building City Hospital that would eventually become Binghamton General Hospital. Another postcard shows the entrance to Ross Park with writing under the photo that says: “We’re going to play ball in about half an hour.”
“One of the interesting things of this particular time is that people could not write on the back of the card where the address was,” Hogan said. “They could only write on the front or over the picture.”
Some postcards even misspell Binghamton as “Binghampton.”
“It was a lot of fun looking at these postcards,” Hogan said. “I enjoyed looking at all of the old buildings. They have so much character.”
Also at the Art Museum this semester are new display cases on the first floor. This has enabled the museum to renovate and expand “The Ancient World” permanent display. The cases allow most of the museum’s original artifacts from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, China and the Americas to be shown all of the time.
“Our goal is to present the entire world,” said Silvia Ivanova, registrar and curator of education. “You can see the continuations of certain traditions and you can see the uniqueness of certain cultures. Because of this installation, we are able to show the evolution of certain artifacts and bring everything together as one.”
Among the highlights of “The Ancient World” is a Mesopotamian brick donated by the late Kenneth C. Lindsay, Art Museum founder and professor emeritus of art history. It was one of the first objects to enter the museum’s permanent collection, Ivanova said. Also on display are ancient Chinese earthenware bowls and a replica of an original map of the known world in the 16th century.
“We wanted to replicate it and make it bigger because this is a map that shows all of the continents,” Ivanova said. “Other maps focus on Europe and Asia or parts of Africa. We are reproducing it because it connects the different parts of ‘The Ancient World’ exhibit.”
FA-179 is also hosting a “Red Chalk Drawings” exhibit. For the first time, the 10 red chalk drawings from the museum’s permanent collection will be displayed together. Red Chalk was a popular drawing tool used by European artists in the 16th and 17th centuries. FA-213, meanwhile, will host “Highlights of New Acquisitions,” dozens of objects that have entered the permanent collection from alumni and museum supporters. “Highlights” will be on display through Feb. 18, before giving way to “The Landmarks of New York.”