Local History

History from Home- Area Museums Open their Virtual Doors

By Published On: March 25th, 2020

The arrival of the COVID-19 virus in America and the resulting state mandates in the Tri-State area advising residents to remain home and for non-essential businesses to temporarily close their doors has undoubtedly had an impact on those places that require foot traffic or the in-person experience to maintain viability. As the Northwestern Corner and Hudson Valley seemingly shut-down for the time being, many businesses have adapted their services for people who remain at home. Public and private schools are transitioning toward distance learning, small retail businesses are increasing their online presence, and museums are continuing to provide the public with fascinating bits of local history and educational exhibits via online and virtual tours.

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA is currently closed to the public following Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s orders to cease all non-essential business operations regarding COVID-19. As a result of the Governor’s mandate, the beloved museum named after the Berkshires’s acclaimed artist has created new ways for visitors to discover its extensive collections of art, historical objects and interesting notes on Rockwell’s accomplished life in Berkshire County. From their website, members of the museum staff say “We are thrilled to now have curated experiences that collect related images, photography, video, audio and history relating to the Museum’s renowned collection of Norman Rockwell’s original paintings, his Stockbridge Studio, as well as the Museum’s vast collection of illustration art.” Visitors in search of their local history fix or who wish to learn more about one of the area’s most famous residents can now explore the world of the Norman Rockwell Museum from the comfort of home. The museum has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to create three unique online exhibitions,virtual exhibits include Norman Rockwell in the age of the Civil Rights Movement, Norman Rockwell: Presidential Elections Illustrated and Presidents, Politics, and the Pen: The Influential Art of Thomas Nast. Visitors are also encouraged to explore Project NORMAN – the Norman Rockwell Museum’s online portal for its digitized collection. The Stockbridge museum houses the most significant public collection of Norman Rockwell’s work in the world. The Museum’s holdings include original artwork, and the artist’s studio and its related collection, including personal memorabilia, supplies, and reference materials now open for online viewing.

In honor of National Women’s History Month, The New York State Museum is presenting Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial honoring the centennial of women’s suffrage in New York State. The online exhibit features biographies, featured artifacts, and resources and lenders- a guide and catalog for educators to offer students. The exhibition also features over 250 artifacts from the collections of the State Museum, State Archives, State Library, cultural institutions, and private lenders from across the state. Similarly, the Albany Institute of History & Art is offering The Making of the Hudson River School, an online exhibition dedicated to the group of Hudson Valley artists like Thomas Cole and Frederic Church who helped define the American character in art. The online exhibition delves deeply into the making of the Hudson River School, such as the influence of European traditions and cultural movements, as well as America’s natural environment and commercial spirit.

To visit these museums and take the virtual tour for yourself visit:

nrm.org for the Norman Rockwell Museum

nysm.nysed.gov for the New York State Museum

and albanyinstitute.org for the Albany Institute of History & Art