Detailed 19th-Century Views of New York State Are Focus of Fenimore Art Museum Exhibition

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Cooperstown, New York, March 26, 2007—During the 19th century a number of artists traveled throughout the United States creating panoramic scenes of each state’s burgeoning settlements, towns, and cities. These highly detailed lithographic prints, created by artists as if seen from high above, came to be known as “bird’s-eye views.” Their representation of street patterns, prominent buildings, transportation networks and landscapes are almost photographic in detail. In addition, Bird’s-Eye views appealed to local pride and provided visual proof that a community had succeeded in the rough-and-tumble world of 19th century America.

On View from April 1 to December 30, 2007, the Fenimore Art Museum presents Panoramas of Pride: 19th-Century Bird's-Eye Views of the Empire State, an exhibition comprising impressive and remarkably accurate snapshots of many communities, large and small, across New York State. Birds-eye views recall an era when Empire State cities and towns vied to promote their interest and encourage growth. Culled from the permanent collection of the Fenimore Art Museum, the exhibition features an 1855 image of New York City and lithographs of upstate cities including Syracuse, Utica and Oswego. Each of the latter prominently depicts the network of canals that helped ensure the economic dominance of the metropolis at the mouth of the Hudson. Smaller communities were also depicted in Bird’s-Eye views during this era. Of local interest, Cooperstown, New York, was portrayed amidst the natural beauty of Otsego Lake and its surrounding hills. In such instances, it is evident that these lithographs were used to promote tourism as well as industry.

These prints are not only important historical documents but are works of art as well. Artists created these images by sketching all of the buildings on every street and each feature of the area around the community. After studying the sketches, the artist selected a "vantage point" and translated the sketches into a completed perspective illustration.

About the Fenimore Art Museum
One of the nation’s premier art institutions, the Fenimore Art Museum is home to an exceptionally rich collection of American folk art and American Indian art as well as important holdings in American decorative arts, photography, and twentieth-century art. Founded in 1945 in Cooperstown, New York, the museum is part of the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA), founded in 1899. The museum’s renowned Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection, housed in the American Indian Wing, is a masterpiece collection of more than 800 art objects, representing a broad scope of North American cultures. The collections of folk and American art include seminal works by Grandma Moses, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Cole, William Sidney Mount, Benjamin West, and John H. I. Browere. The museum offers a range of interactive educational programming for children, families, and adults, including lectures and workshops for museum visitors and distance learning instruction for classrooms nationwide. The museum further explores and examines our cultural history by organizing and hosting nationally touring art and history exhibitions, including Grandma Moses: Grandmother to the Nation; Treasures from Olana: The Landscapes of Frederic Edwin Church; A Deaf Artist in Early America: The Worlds of John Brewster, Jr.; Winslow Homer: Masterworks from the Adirondacks; and Ralph Fasanella’s America.

The Fenimore Art Museum is located on 5798 State Hwy. 80, Lake Road, in Cooperstown. The museum’s Fenimore Café, overlooking beautiful Otsego Lake, features wonderful views and a tranquil setting amid the terraced gardens. The Museum Shop offers fine jewelry, art reproductions, and a wide selection of publications on folk art, history, and Native American art. Museum admission is $11 for adults, $9.50 for visitors age 65 and over, and $5 for children age 7 to 12; children 6 and under and NYSHA members are admitted free. Reduced price combination admission tickets that include The Farmers’ Museum and The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum are also available. The museum is open from April 1 through December 30. For museum hours or general information, please call 1-888-547-1450 or visit


For more information and images, please contact:
Christine Liggio, Public Relations Office
Fenimore Art Museum/ New York State Historical Association
Phone: (607) 547-1472/E-mail:

Press Release Category: 
Exhibition Press Releases
Publication Date: 
March 2007