One of the public faces of the New York State Historical Association, the Fenimore concerns itself mostly with the collection and preservation of American Indian, folk, and fine art; it also has some 60,000 examples of early photography by the Cooperstown-based firm Smith and Telfer, who regularly photographed the goings-on in Cooperstown over more than a century. The museum’s fine art collection is weighted toward Hudson River School painters, but also boasts a unique collection of life masks of early American luminaries, including Thomas Jefferson and Dolley Madison. The Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art is likewise notable; its eight-hundred-odd pieces were collected from coast to coast and into Canada and range in date from 200 BCE to 1999.
Given the museum’s name and location, it’s probably unsurprising to learn that the collection also includes a substantial amount of material associated with Last of the Mohicans author James Fenimore Cooper, whose family founded the town and in whose former home the museum now resides. Potential visitors should keep in mind that the Fenimore is one of a half-dozen upstate New York art museums within a few hours’ drive of one another, and that, upon incipient art appreciation burnout, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is just down the street.
Fenimore Art Museum Information
- Public Transportation: Poor (a 20-minute walk to nearest OPT bus)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good. Handicapped restrooms are on the Lower Level
- Hours: April 1 – May 9: Tuesday–Sunday 10 a.m.–4 p.m., closed Mondays. May 10 – October 10: Open Daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m. October 11 – December 31: Tuesday–Sunday 10 a.m.–4 p.m., closed Mondays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. January – March: Closed for winter except for special programs and events
- Admission: $12 Adults and Juniors (13-64); $10.50 Seniors (65+); Free for Children (12 and under), active military, retired career military personnel, and NYSHA members
- Tour: Group tour prices range from $12–$36.50 (free for children under 7, active military, and retired career military personnel). Confirmation is required two weeks prior to your visit. Special guided tours are available. The Fenimore Art Museum offers boxed or buffet lunches with several menu options
- Membership: Individual membership is $50 (Family/Household $80). Member benefits include free admission to the Fenimore Art Museum, The Farmers’ Museum and the Research Library; free admission to all special events at The Farmers’ Museum; quarterly events calendar and Headwaters newsletter; invitations and reduced rates for programs, classes, and special events; a subscription to the Annual Heritage magazine; discounts in all museum shops; members-only holiday shopping and private sales; invitation to a Members’ Holiday Reception and the Annual Meeting; discounts on all museum publications; a 10% discount at the Fenimore Cafe and The Stone Barn Dairy Bar at the Farmers’ Museum; a 10% discount at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum Gift Shop; and a 10% discount at the Fly Creek Cider Mill Millstore Marketplace
- Other Benefits: At the Benefactor level ($500), members receive a private tour of the Fenimore Art Museum or Research Library for the member and four guests; one free request for extended library services; and a special social event.