Through Our Eyes - Hudson River MuseumMuseum Honored for "Through Our Eyes: Collection Initiative and Exhibition"

Yonkers, New York (February 25) —The Hudson River is proud to announce that it will be awarded an Engaging Communities Award by the Museum Association of New York (MANY) for its collecting initiative and exhibition, Through Our Eyes: Milestones and Memories of African Americans in Yonkers, which showcased 100 years of photographs and objects documenting the celebrations and achievements of the African Americans who helped to make Yonkers the vibrant city it is today. The exhibition was on view at the Hudson River Museum from May 31–November 3, 2019. 

Through Our Eyes highlighted the stories of African Americans, from Francis J. Moultrie, who emigrated to Yonkers in 1869 with fifty cents in his pocket and opened a successful catering business, to State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who became the first woman and African-American woman in New York state to serve as Senate Majority Leader. The exhibition also featured an interactive installation inspired by the owner of Harry’s Shoe Shop, Perstine Wesley, a convening community force and an unofficial historian who filled the walls of his shop with images of everyday life in Yonkers. 

“The Hudson River Museum is deeply honored to be recognized with the Engaging Communities Award by the Museum Association of New York,” said Masha Turchinsky, Director. “We were incredibly proud to highlight the important history and everyday lives of African Americans in Yonkers and their role in shaping the city. Through Our Eyes demonstrates the HRM’s ongoing commitment to making our museum inclusive and representative of the communities we serve. We are grateful to everyone who generously shared their histories with us so that all can continue to learn from these experiences.

The Museum’s Samuel H. Kress Interpretive Fellow, Christian Stegall, spent seven months researching and interviewing Yonkers residents to collect these important stories. This prestigious fellowship, awarded to only six museums nationwide in 2018, has a goal of diversifying the next generation of art museum professionals. As a result of grassroots examination and classic word of mouth, Stegall gathered more than 700 images, many of which have been added to the Museum’s collection and will be integrated into future interpretation. The HRM will continue to elicit community involvement in future historical collecting efforts and displays that tell the many stories that are a reflection of our diverse public. The HRM also received a Project Award in 2019 from the Greater Hudson Heritage Network in recognition of Through Our Eyes.

The HRM will be awarded the Engaging Communities Award as part of the Museum Association of New York’s 2020 conference "The Power of Partnership." The Award Ceremony will take place at 8am on Monday, March 30 at the Hilton Albany in Albany, New York. The HRM would like to thank the curators and staff who worked on the exhibition and especially the community members who came forward to share their history for the first time. In addition to the Kress Foundation, the HRM is also grateful to the supporters of the exhibition, including Honorable Symra D. Brandon, Brooks Memorial Home, Inc., Arthur G. Melendez, Jr., and Shanae V. Williams, District 1, Yonkers City Council. 

Image: Herdy Yeldell. Early Residents of Nepperhan (Runyon Heights), ca. 1950s. Black and white photograph. Digital Gift of Carolyn Grayson Upshaw, 2019 (D.2019.10.001).

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