2020 was a challenging year, but we pulled together and delivered what was truly a season like no other. While many of the 2020 feature exhibitions were postponed to 2021, we remained committed to keeping our audience engaged and were able to deliver exhibitions and virtual programs for those socially distancing at home or unable to make the trip to Cooperstown. The virtual platform, developed by our dedicated staff, allowed us to reach more people than ever would have been possible in a regular year. For that we are thankful and hopeful that we were able help people who were cooped up at home and seeking education and human interaction during what has been a difficult and lonely time for many. One of our staff’s most important accomplishments has been the creation of a whole new menu of online content, all of which is now featured under a special tab on the museum’s website, under the heading “Virtual Fenimore.” This content is growing daily and will serve the museum well for years to come.
While the early part of 2020 meant our doors were closed to the public, we opened on July 1 to the public after months of planning. While the season started off slowly, it steadily got busier and by the fall visitation picked up considerably, to the point where we actually equaled our fall attendance from 2019. Even after opening, we continued managing staff volume in office spaces to ensure they also remained safe. This meant that working from home half-time became part of the 2020 model for staff productivity and safety. In some ways the pandemic has greatly improved our ability to work together and operate in a flexible, innovative manner.
2020 marked the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Thaw Gallery, and we were happy to host during an election year, Pete Souza: Two Presidents, One Photographer (September 5 – December 31), an exhibition showcasing the photographs of two presidents from opposite ends of the political spectrum. As part of the Souza exhibition, Mr. Souza himself joined us and nearly 350 participants for a virtual gallery tour, followed by a live Q&A via Zoom. This certainly was a treat as part of what was a very special but also very different season.
Upon opening in July, we kicked off with some wonderful exhibitions. The exhibition Blue Gardens: Photographs by Gross and Daley (July 3 – December 31) featured timeless images of old estate gardens, from Newport, Rhode Island to the Berkshires and Long Island. Drawn from our very own Thaw Collection, Elegant Line/Powerful Shape: Elements of Native American Art (July 1 – December 31) exhibited how art is created using a universal language comprised of visual elements—color, line, and shape. Watercolor prints featured in Travels in the Interior of North America (July 1 – December 31) depict the travels of explorer and naturalist Prince Alexander Philipp Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied, Germany, and the Swiss born artist Karl Bodmer (1809-1893), as they embarked on a voyage into the furthest reaches of the American Interior.
Later in the summer months and into the fall, when visitors became slightly more at ease entering public places, the Albrecht Dürer: Master Prints (August 11 – November 22) exhibition delighted guests with thirty woodblock prints and engravings by (or after) the German Renaissance master printmaker Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). To close out the season, from our very own collection, Decking the Halls (December 5 – December 31) exhibited holiday ornaments, cards, music, and photographs letting us explore the history of some of our favorite wintertime traditions.
As always, none of this would be have been possible in 2020 without the talented and dedicated staff and supporters, our highly committed Board of Trustees, and our generous donors, members, and visitors. Thank you!
PAUL S. D’AMBROSIO, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Fenimore Art Museum
Preserving – Engaging – Educating
Fenimore Art Museum is dedicated to welcoming and connecting people to our shared cultural heritage through exhibitions and programs that engage, delight, and inspire.
OFFICERS, DIRECTORS & SENIOR STAFF
Jeffrey H. Pressman, M.D., Chairman
Charles B. Kieler, Vice Chairman
Paul S. D’Ambrosio, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer
Joseph Siracusa, Vice President for Operations
Alexander R. Charlton, Secretary
Anthony Fasano, Treasurer
Stephen M. Duff, Assistant Treasurer
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Jane Forbes Clark
Stephen M. Duff
Douglas E. Evelyn
Robert S. Hanft
Josef E. Jelinek
Charles B. Kieler
Doris Fischer Malesardi
Erna Morgan McReynolds
Anne G. Older
Jeffrey H. Pressman, MD
Henry F. C. Weil
SENIOR MANAGEMENT TEAM
Dr. Paul S. D’Ambrosio, President and Chief Executive Officer
Joseph Siracusa, Vice President for Operations
Barbara Fischer, Senior Director for Human Resources and Accounting
Todd A. Kenyon, Director of Marketing and Communications
Chris Rossi, Director of Exhibitions
John Ferguson, Director of Education