Two Presidents, One Photographer at Fenimore Art Museum

Two Presidents, One Photographer showcased 56 of Pete Souza’s photographs of two presidents from opposite ends of the political spectrum. This exhibit included Souza’s favorite images of Presidents Obama and Reagan, providing us with candid moments that are windows into their humanity. What we see in Souza’s photographs are two Presidents who clearly respected the office they held, and genuinely respected the people they interacted with, no matter the circumstance.

Pete Souza is a best-selling author, speaker and freelance photographer based in Madison, Wisconsin. He is also Professor Emeritus of Visual Communication at Ohio University. Souza was the Chief Official White House Photographer for President Obama and the Director of the White House photo office.  His book, “Obama: An Intimate Portrait,” was published by Little, Brown & Company in 2017, and debuted at #1 on the The New York Times bestseller list. The exhibition was organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions.

Fenimore Art Museum featured several programs related to the exhibition, including a live Q&A session with Pete Souza himself. There were also several virtual exhibition tours available for free to the public.

2020 Summer Gala Review – Distance Learning Appeal

The 2020 Summer Gala to benefit Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum was reimagined to be an appeal to benefit the Museums’ new Distance Learning programming. A mailing that was designed by our Gala Committee and Marketing Department was sent out at the end of June to those having previously attended the Gala within the last five years. The appeal raised about $23,870 in net revenue for each museum.

The Distance Learning Program is well underway and is already proving to be a useful tool for teachers and parents across the state. Currently the Distance Learning Program Hamilton’s Final Act: Enemies and Allies is in use by area social studies classes, and the Pete Souza programming will be available in the fall. Other examples of distance learning programs being created include Meanings of the Mask: Aboriginal Headgear and It’s Place in Culture, Using Primary Sources: Historical Records in the Classroom, Reading a Painting, and Understanding African-American Art, among several others. We greatly appreciate the dedication of our 2020 Gala Committee: Jane Forbes Clark, Shelley Graham, Cory Moffat, Carrie Thompson and Lucy Townsend who were seamlessly able to change direction amidst all of the uncertainties in the Spring and develop an effective new approach. Please save the date for the 2021 Gala scheduled to take place on Friday, August 13, which will be themed around FAM’s Keith Haring exhibition.

2020 Gala Donors

Alice Busch Gronewaldt Foundation
Allstadt Hardin Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas M. Barry
Marc and Elaine Bresee
Miss Jane Forbes Clark
Dr. Paul S. and Anna T. D’Ambrosio
Ms. Margaret Donahue
Mrs. Karen M. Elting
Dr. and Mrs. Douglas E. Evelyn
Mr. and Mrs. Stephen M. Gotwald
Thomas and Shelley Graham
Dr. and Mrs. Lewis L. Hamilton
Mr. and Mrs. Robert S. Hanft
Mr. and Mrs. Gates Helms Hawn
Dr. Margaret M. Healy
Allison and W. Keyes Hill-Edgar
Dr. Michael Hodgman and Ms. Meg Kiernan
The Honorable and Mrs. M. Langhorne Keith
J&S Patrick Family Foundation, Inc.
Mr. and Mrs. Todd Kenyon
Mr. Charles B. Kieler
Dr. Bruce Kramer and Dr. Laura Kilty
Dr. Reginald Knight and Mrs. Shelley Knight
Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Mahon
Malesardi Family Foundation
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew R. Marietta
Joseph and Martha Membrino
Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Miosek
Mr. and Mrs. J. Michael Moffat
Mr. Tom Morgan and Ms. Erna J. Morgan McReynolds
Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Older
Mr. Robert Nelson and Mr. Van B. Ramsey
Paperkite Creative, LLC
Dr. Jeffrey Pressman and Dr. Nancy Kollisch
Mr. and Mrs. John Sanford
Mrs. Veronica Gil Seaver
Ms. Cozata Solloway and Mr. Michael Shipman
Mr. and Mrs. Edward W. Stack
Strategic Financial Services
Ms. Lucy Townsend
Ms. Catherine Tuttle
Francesca Zambello and Faith Gay


Education & Programming Highlights



In 2020 Fenimore Art Museum’s Education Department launched a comprehensive series of virtual programs and offerings designed to fully explore and realize the potential of remote engagement to increase audiences and enhance cultural enrichment in our rural, underserved region. Beginning in March and continuing throughout the summer months, the museum created a variety of activities directed toward children and families, such as virtual I Spy games, crossword puzzles, optical illusions, printable coloring books utilizing artworks in the museum collection, and special family guides with suggested craft projects related to objects in the museum’s permanent collections of folk art, fine art, and American Indian Art. Each month, the museum also produced a 15- to 20-minute-long Preschool Tuesday video with storytelling, a look at the museum’s collections, interactive games and lessons, and an at-home craft lesson. These videos have proven to be very popular and continue the tradition of on-site Preschool Tuesday programs which will recommence when safe to do so.

The exhibition and curatorial team worked in conjunction with our Education Department to create virtual offerings for our audiences during the pandemic. The idea was to engage our audience while our doors were closed, and later when visitation was limited, to give them a glimpse of what was on display. What started out as a hardship also provided an opportunity to share items and ideas not expressed in the galleries and expand our audience beyond the usual geographic boundaries.

A series of one-minute virtual tours of artworks in our museum collection, shared on social media, as well as a series of photography lesson videos, were created. The artists Gross & Daley produced a special video introducing their photography exhibition, Blue Gardens. The virtual tours brought onsite exhibitions such as Blue Gardens, Prismatic Beauty (folk art from the Fenimore collection), and Elegant Line/Powerful Shape (American Indian art from our Thaw collection) directly into people’s homes. Innovative online offerings such as story maps helped visitors navigate the artistic worlds of Karl Bodmer and Fritz Vogt. This fall the museum has launched extremely popular live virtual tours of our special exhibits, Albrecht Durer: Master Prints and Pete Souza: Two Presidents, One Photographer. Working with our Special Collections, the Fenimore created online exhibitions of our popular Hamilton’s Final Act exhibit featuring the letters between Burr and Hamilton which led up to their duel and we are currently finalizing a special virtual tour of the exhibition Hamilton’s Final Act: Enemies and Allies.

This August, Fenimore Art Museum converted its long running and popular event Art By the Lake into a virtual event. This program features the work of regional fine artists for visitors to view and purchase. In 2020, our artists were showcased on the museum website for visitors to view. Many of the artists produced videos discussing their artistic process which we broadcast on social media.

Virtual Fenimore is sponsored in part by The Clark Foundation, NYCM Insurance, Otsego County Government, and Dr. Richard Sternberg. Generous support for this project provided by Art Bridges.



The Distance Learning Program has newly heightened production and support in 2020 based on the burdens placed on our local students, parents, and school districts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Museums realized their unique ability to contribute educational programs, and because of the financial support from the community these programs are being offered free of charge. The concept is to provide lessons using our resources for teachers and parents to use. While some segments of these distance learning programs may be pre-recorded, teachers may opt for a Museum education professional to introduce the lesson and guide the class through the various exercises and tours, just as if the class were visiting in person. Educators will always be available to answer questions, and assist in any way the teacher desires. Additionally, we are developing Continuing Teacher and Leader Education (CTLE) credit programs for the lessons so that teachers can receive state-mandated professional development credits from Fenimore Art Museum. The program development is well underway and is already proving to be a useful tool for teachers and parents across the state. Currently the Distance Learning Program Hamilton’s Final Act: Enemies and Allies is in use by area social studies classes, as well as Pete Souza programming. Other examples of distance learning programs being created include Meanings of the Mask: Aboriginal Headgear and It’s Place in Culture, Using Primary Sources: Historical Records in the Classroom, Reading a Painting, and Understanding African-American Art, among several others.


In April 2020, Fenimore Art Museum and Glimmer Globe Theatre opened submissions for our first Virtual Open Mic Night. The final production featured 17 performers from across the region and presented a wide array of different types of performances. All acts were either performances of original material, or of works in the public domain. The evening featured performances of original music, poetry, short fiction, theatrical monologues, classical opera, and more. The event was viewed 250 times on YouTube in the first month, and 1,000 times on Facebook in only a week! The next Open Mic Night will be part of our 2020-2021 Snow Globe Season at Fenimore Art Museum, where we will continue adapting the programs our audiences have come to love while working on new offerings for broad engagement across all demographics.

This summer, Fenimore Art Museum’s Glimmer Globe Theatre, along with companies around the world, were met with the unprecedented challenge of radically rethinking every program originally planned for the 2020 season. When it came to adapting programs for a virtual environment, as well as creating brand new ideas to suit the medium, the Fenimore’s programs proved to be quite successful with performers and audiences alike. All performing arts programs were offered free of charge to the public and included an appeal to make a donation of any size, if able, to help keep programing like this available free to the public. We will continue this course of action in the short-term and transition to a fundraising option directly beneath the videos themselves, utilizing Facebook Fundraiser features, starting with A Christmas Carol in December.

In a typical year, Glimmer Globe produces two mainstage productions in our Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheatre: a new Shakespeare production in July, and in August a contrasting contemporary classic. This summer, we were able to do just that for a virtual environment, with new productions of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost and Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance. These productions brought together 31 performers from around the country, representing five different states from Florida to Colorado. These projects were open to performers of all experience levels, and consequently brought into the fold 14 actors who had never acted with us before, all while allowing an ensemble of local theatrical veterans to work with several first-time performers. Both shows drew large audiences online and received overwhelmingly positive feedback. On Facebook and YouTube, these two productions alone garnered more than 8,000 views, and nearly 100 comments!

Additionally, we were excited to release complete recordings of our Shakespeare productions from previous seasons, recorded live in the Lucy B. Hamilton Amphitheater. These performances were streamed directly to Facebook and YouTube and will be available to watch at least through the end of the year. The streaming premieres of The Taming of the Shrew (2019), Othello (2018), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2017), and Macbeth (2016) collectively achieved close to 6,000 views and 86 comments.

This season, we were also pleased to present a series of supplemental materials, including our six-part educational series “Shakespeare in Action.” This series introduced audiences of all ages to the fundamentals of Shakespearian performance and provided tools and exercises they could use to hone their skills. Covering textual analysis, technique, and character development, these lessons served as an excellent introduction to the craft of acting in a general sense and we’re excited to continue to share them with regional educators as we move into next year.

Library Highlights

While the events of 2020 made it a year different than any other, the Library persevered. And although the reading room has remained closed to the public because of the pandemic, staff have been available via email for reference, and grant projects continued despite the challenges.

Two very generous digitization grant projects took place at the Library during 2020. The first came in the amount of nearly $4,000 from South Central Regional Library Council to digitize Chenango County newspapers. The Library was also awarded $17,000 from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation to digitize its collection of public domain newspaper titles in Otsego County, accounting for 20 titles on 120 reels of microfilm. Scanning and indexing for both projects was outsourced to the Northern New York Library Network, and the digitized newspapers are now freely available online through the website New York State Historic Newspapers, www.nyshistoricnewspapers.org.

Additionally, Library staff assisted with collections research for virtual exhibits and social media content, and archives have been highlighted on topics such as: 19th-century medicine & the Spanish Flu pandemic as it unfolded in Otsego County, local July 4th festivities, the life of local artist Marguerite Standish Cockett, and Belva Lockwood, one of the first women to run for president in 1884.

For assistance with research or for more information about the Library collection, please email or call:  library@fenimoreart.org or (607) 547-1473. We hope to see you at the Library soon!

2020 Library Donations:

The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation
The Tianaderrah Foundation

Bentley Holden Fund
South Central Regional Library Council

Gifts up to $100
Mr. John R. Alexander
Lori T. Andersen
Ms. Mary Ann Oliver
Joan. Sondergaard
Dr. Jeanne Westcott

2020 Collections Highlights, Acquisitions and Deaccessions


Wedding dress and hostess apron; child’s suit, gift of Denise Ackerman.

Wedding dress and accessories, 1936; 1960s fedora and cloche, gift of Laurie Moretti.

Daguerreotype of Little Child with Flower Book, Joseph Whiting Stock, 1845-1860, gift of Nancy Kollisch and Jeff Pressman.

Melodeon, Amos L. Swan of Cherry Valley, 1840-1855, gift of Mrs. Burton G. Robinson (accessioned from expired loan).

New York Tough poster, 2020, print on paper, anonymous gift.

Set of 10 neoprene masks printed with photographs of Cooperstown and surrounding area, by Sam Ross, 2020, gift of Sam Ross.

Three watercolors attributed to Mary Ann Willson, early 19th century, gift of Jane Forbes Clark.

Digital photographs of Cooperstown statues being masked, 2020, gift of Jane Forbes Clark.

Paintings, The Garden at Sainte-Adresse and Moses with the Ten Commandments by Isidor “Pop” Weiner, 1968-1969, gift of Susan Ranzman and Richard Weiner.

Blown-glass tree-topper, 1940s-1950s, anonymous gift.

36 gelatin silver prints from the exhibition Herb Ritts: The Rock Portraits, gift of Herb Ritts Foundation.

Photograph, image of child touching President Obama’s head from Pete Souza exhibit, gift of Pete Souza.

Painting and painted tin box, Ann Butler, 1835-1840, museum purchase.



Any Documentary Collection object considered for deaccession must meet at least one of the following criteria set forth by the New York State Board of Regents Rule 3.276:

  • The object is inconsistent with the mission of the responsible institution as set forth in that institution’s mission statement and scope of collections.
  • The object has failed to retain its identity.
  • The object is redundant.
  • The item’s conservation or preservation needs are beyond the responsible institution’s capacity to provide.
  • The object is deaccessioned to accomplish refinement of collections.
  • It has been established that the item is inauthentic.
  • The responsible institution is repatriating the object or returning it to its original owner.
  • The responsible institution is returning the object to its donor or the donor’s heirs or assigns to fulfill donor restrictions relating to the item which the institution is no longer able to meet.
  • The object presents a hazard to other people or collection objects.
  • The item has been lost or stolen and has not been recovered.

Pair of reclining armchairs upholstered in striped cotton.

Electric bridge lamp with arrow-shaped arm.

Square end table, early 19th century.

Portrait of Otto Clark McCrum, John Pardoe, 1858.