A new museum of old gems

William M. Dowd photo

CANAJOHARIE, NY -- For more than 75 years, the attractive stone building on Erie Boulevard housed both the local library and a small portion of a stunning collection of American art.

The Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery was built in 1925 through funds contributed by Bartlet Arkell, the man who created the sprawling Beech-Nut food processing plant located right across the street as well as the art collection.

On Sunday, a new incarnation of the building was unveiled to the public -- the spacious new two-story Arkell Museum at Canajoharie that is connected to the original library and holds Arkell's huge collection of late-19th century and early-20th century embracing works by the likes of Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Gay, Childe Hassam, Thomas Hart Benton, Walter Lunt Palmer and the contemporary painter Walter Hartke.

This gritty little industrial village of 2,300 residents not far from Syracuse and Utica is an easy drive from east or west on the NYS Thruway.

From the 1930 bronze sculpture "Humoresque" by Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880-1980) that dominates the exterior courtyard (seen above) facing the iconic Beech-Nut factory to grouping after grouping of oils, watercolors, sketches, advertising art and engravings, New York State's newest museum is a joy.

But, like art itself, joy is where you find it. Sometimes it's in humor. The Arkell has that, perhaps unwittingly. As a text board next to a handpainted copy of Rembrandt van Rijn's "The Night Watch" explains, the huge work was renamed "Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch" after it was cleaned of accumulated dust and darkened varnish and restorers realized the depicted scene actually was a daytime event.

Individual art at the Arkell
Canajoharie-Palatine C of C
Dowd's Guides

Blog Archive