I worked for many years with Maury Thompson, a longtime local journalist and history buff. He blogs regularly about Charles Evans Hughes — about whom he has written a book, and the script of an in-production movie — and the Pruyn sisters and their families. I enjoy his work because I fully appreciate the amount of research he puts into everything he does, and because it’s fun to learn more about the Hydes, Hoopeses, and Cunninghams. I spend thirty-five hours a week immersed in their histories, homes, and legacy, so reading stories about them helps me envision what their lives were like and what Glens Falls was like at that time.
His most recent post resonated with me even more than most. He wrote about a sixth-grade class in 1969 at the long-shuttered Broad Street School writing and performing a play inspired by The Hyde Collection’s Christ With Arms Folded by Rembrandt.
The students, he wrote, ended the play with the message that visiting The Hyde Collection is still a wonderful family activity. Maury quoted the article, “It ended with the comment of how fortunate people of Glens Falls are to have anything so exceptionally fine as The Hyde Collection of beautiful original paintings and other magnificent art. They urged the audience, ‘Won’t you come and bring your parents?’”
Last spring, The Hyde’s educators were invited to the unveiling of Abe Wing School’s student-created mural. Hyde House — the Hyde family’s home and the center of the Museum, housing works collected by founder Charlotte Hyde — was included in the outstanding work of art.
But when talking to the child who decided to include the Museum, our educators learned that despite living practically across the street from the Museum much of his young life, the budding artist had never visited.
Mrs. Hyde’s mission for her collection was to enrich lives and promote fine art among the people of Glens Falls and its surrounding areas. Today, the Museum is driven by her mission, with exhibitions and programs carefully planned to reach people in different ways, ensuring everyone has experiences that help them connect to art. A child who loves art living so close having not visited or attended one of our several free children’s art programs didn’t settle well.
As a result, our education team — Jenny Hutchinson, curator of Museum education and programming, and Keri Dudek, educator — developed a program with Abraham Wing School. First, our educators visited the fifth-grade class, talking about how art can help us make sense of the world around us. They talked about nature, its destruction, and how several works exhibited in Artists of the Mohawk Hudson Region were created in response to our changing environment.
Last week, the class visited The Hyde and saw the exhibition. They explored the beauty of nature, its destruction, and discussed problem solving. In the Museum’s Art Studio, the twenty students each made eight works of art. They will visit again in coming weeks to add to the work.
What made me think of this reading Maury’s blog is the invitation: “Won’t you come and bring your parents?” One of the works of art the Abe Wing fifth-graders created was an invitation for their families to visit the Museum with them.
On November 9, the children will bring their loved ones to The Hyde, share what they learned, and show them their own artworks exhibited here. We hope the pilot program with Abe Wing helps spread the word that there is an incredible community resource right here, in their neighborhood, that is — almost sixty years after it officially opened to the public — an “exceptionally fine” way to spend a few hours with loved ones.