ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM – TV) – The Arnot Museum is a strong resource into the eclectic history of the Twin Tiers.
The exterior of the building is a Greek revival home that was built in 1833 by John Arnot Sr.
The house was being built at the exact time that John’s son Matthias was born. It is a small, strange coincidence, as what this home eventually became – has EVERYTHING to do with Matthias’ interests and passions.
The Arnot Art Museum was founded with the bequest by Matthias H. Arnot of his collection, home, and an endowment in 1910 and in 1913 the Arnot Art Gallery opened to the public.
In mid-1890’s, Mr. Arnot commissioned the architectural firm of Pierce and Bickford to create an addition to his home – – and the intention was to make this a permanent picture gallery for Matthias to display and show his extensive art collection.
Mr. Arnot was not a collector who bought art and then kept the collection private for himself and his friends. Every weekend he invited the citizens of Elmira to come and view his collection. And I think this is one of the aspects of the Arnot Art Museum that we miss in this day in age where we are surrounded by many, many museums. Locally, nationally, internationally, if you want to go to a museum, you just go!
But in the 1890’s, this was Elmira’s first Museum, and at that point, it wasn’t even officially a “museum”, – this was Mr. Arnot, opening up his home, and sharing his passion with anyone who had an interest.
The Arnot Art Museum is unique. This is one of the few museums that you can go to in the WORLD, and see an art collection hanging the exact same way, in the exact same room as it was when the collection was first put together. And being in this room is really like stepping back into the 1890’s – the room was built by Piece and Bickford to be optimal for Matthias to display his collection, not only was there an elaborate skylight built with the room, and the room was also lit by gas-light.
The paintings in this room are hung “salon style” one above the other, to maximize what could be displayed, and this was the style at the time the gallery was built.
Matthias Arnot made his first fine art purchases Between 1869 and 1870, , and this marble bust of his father John Arnot, Sr., created by Chauncey Bradley Ives, was one of his first purchases.
He bought many pieces at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 and,
In 1882, Mr. Arnot attended the infamous Hamilton Palace Sale, where his high bids on the collection at auction gained him international fame.
Now, the museum is more than this one room – and I would encourage you to visit soon, and take in the scope of the entire collection. Currently, the Arnot Art Museum has three areas of focus
#1 – Matthias Arnots art collection, or course (which is known worldwide – by the way)
#2 – the museums collection of American Hudson River School Landscapes
#3 – their Contemporary realism collection
Now, if you have never visited the Arnot Art Museum, I would like to invite you to do so soon. I think it should be the mission of everyone in the twin tiers to visit this amazing place at least once.
Tuesday-Friday, 10am-5pm Saturday, noon – 5pm
Admission Members are always free. $7 Adult $5 Senior (55+) $5 College Students Free Children 18 and under Free Military families.
Currently, the Arnot Art Museum is doing a Pacesetter Membership Program – lots of extra perks of membership – the most exciting one being you can actually help determine one piece of art that will be added to the museum’s permanent collection
The Pacesetter Program is a little unique, in that it allows the museum to help you celebrate your becoming a member. You get to help put your unique stamp on the museum’s collection, AND there will be an unveiling party and museum meet and greet when the newly acquired art piece is unveiled.