Sunday, May 28, 2017

New Exhibits Tell a More Complete Story of Life at Schuyler Mansion

 by Danielle Funiciello

From the outside, the Visitor's Center at Schuyler Mansion might not look very different, but inside renovations and new exhibits greet guests as we head towards the site's 100 Year Anniversary in October 2017.

You may remember an article on the site's front desk,
installed in 2015.
If you have come to Schuyler Mansion in the last decade, you may have perused our Visitor’s Center exhibits while waiting for a tour. Perhaps you noticed that it was dark? Or that none of the audio buttons worked? Or that, while there was plenty information about Philip Schuyler, you found yourself wondering about the rest of his household and his broader connections? After years of planning, our Visitor’s Center has finally received exciting updates both in content and technology!

The new exhibit, Son of Albany, opened with the 2017 season on May 17th. Thanks to the hard work of the Peebles Island Resource Center and the amazing support of members of the Friends of Schuyler Mansion and our visitors, the Visitors Center has received fresh paint to brighten the space, overhauled bathrooms, new signage and informational panels, and interactive exhibits bringing us into the 21st-Century.

Son of Albany gives insight into Schuyler's life through a number
of new view-points, giving visitors a broader perspective.
Visitor favorites remain - like a comparative timeline of events in the Schuyler’s lifetime, an overlay map of historic and modern Albany, and a model of the original structures surrounding the 18th-Century home. Our timeline has been improved by the addition of a touchscreen display which allows visitors to explore events in further detail and see more images than could be displayed in a traditional format.

"Madam de la Tour du Pin" stands in front of a green screen to
record a monologue for Schuyler Mansion's new touch-screen
exhibit, February 2015.

Sure to become a new favorite; visitors can now “interview” figures who lived and worked with Philip Schuyler through a series of touch-screen video monologues. Subjects of the “interviews” are diverse, allowing visitors to get a broader understanding of 18th-Century life at the home. The six historic figures available are: Philip’s wife Catharine Van Rensselaer Schuyler, enslaved servant Prince, military aid Richard Varrick, tenant farmer Abner Fuller, canal partner turned critic Elkanah Watson, and emigre Madam de la Tour du Pin – a refugee escaping the French Revolution.

Space has also been set aside to temporarily exhibit items from our New York State Parks collections or temporary loans. We hope that short-term displays will offer more variety for our repeat visitors and allow us to display less seen items from the collections.

A statuette of Alexander Hamilton stands as a placeholder for
a new temporary exhibit case, opposite a digital timeline.
Whether or not you can make a tour this summer season (through October 31st), you can stop by during open hours, Wednesday-Sunday 11:00AM to 5:00PM, to take a look at the new exhibits!

Special thanks for work on the Visitor's Center and Son of Albany Exhibit go to:

Peebles Island including:

Travis Bowman, Anna Curtis, Lindsay Dingman, Amy Facca, Chris Flagg, Kjirsten Gustafson, Paul Huey, Amanda Massie, Heidi Miksch, Audrey Nieson, Michele Phillips, Cordell Reaves, John Shultz, Greg Smith, Paul Witkowski, Edward Yetto.

Regional Support and Workers including: 

Gerry Corsetti, Rich Domine, Dwight Flanders, Brian Strasavich, Justin Thomas, Tony Valentine, Daryl Wohlfarth

Peter Argentine of Argentine Productions, Pittsburgh, PA

And of course, staff members past and present who prepared content for the exhibit including: 

Alysan Bowers, Heidi Hill, Michelle Mavigliano, Ian Mumpton, Debbie Perez, Bill von Atzingen

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