Great, Strange, and Rarely Seen: Objects from the Vault

April 14, 2012–August 26, 2012

Over the past 200 years, the Albany Institute of History & Art has assembled a remarkable collection of art and historical objects that document the people and culture of the upper Hudson Valley. Parts of the collection are well known and admired, such as the Hudson River School paintings, the Egyptian mummies, and the cast iron stoves. But others are unfamiliar. They have remained secured within the climate-controlled rooms of the Institute’s storage—mysteries and treasures waiting to be revealed!

The exhibition Great, Strange, and Rarely Seen places on view many of these little known but truly magnificent collections. Stunning Chinese lacquer, intricately carved Japanese netsuke, and eighteenth-century English porcelain statuettes reveal the cosmopolitan breadth of the Institute’s holdings. Other collections like patent models and human hair jewelry demonstrate the ingenious and quirky sides of human creativity.

Many of the objects selected for the exhibition have only rarely been on view due to their delicate and light-sensitive materials. Women’s beaded dresses from the 1920s evoke the excitement of a decade and intimate watercolor portraits encased in miniature lockets bring us face to face with the men and women who have called Albany home over the last 200 years.

Great, Strange, and Rarely Seen explores the process of collecting, the families and private collectors who have enriched the Institute’s holdings, and the history of the Capital Region and the 221 year-old Albany Institute itself.

Great, Strange, and Rarely Seen is supported by the Buchman Foundation, Elle Shushan, Ellen Jabbur, the Delmar Progress Club, and the Albany Academy Alumni Association.