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Who, What, When
The Hudson runs through it
It was 1609 when Henry Hudson first voyaged up the untamed Hudson River. To mark that quadricentennial, Skidmore’s Tang Museum is presenting Lives of the Hudson, an interdisciplinary exhibition partly based on the 2005 book The Hudson: A History by Skidmore English professor Tom Lewis.
Co-organized by Lewis and the Tang’s Malloy Curator Ian Berry, the show juxtaposes works by the renowned Hudson River School painters of the 19th century with eclectic contemporary works as well as historical artifacts and objects of science and tourism. Stories of the river are told in recorded interviews with people living along its banks. Further thoughts are offered in texts by scholars from Harvard to Skidmore to Hofstra. Among the Skidmore faculty commentators are environmental scientist Karen Kellogg, literature scholar Terry Diggory, Americanist Greg Pfitzer, art historian Mimi Hellman, and sociologist Rik Scarce. And more stories are readable in early-20th-century picture postcards, the huge pilot’s wheel from a famous old Hudson steamboat, and other artifacts.
Lewis sees the project as a natural outgrowth of his cross-disciplinary book and also of his scholarly instinct to “figure out who we are and how we can shape the things that are part of our daily life and work.” The author of other American cultural histories (and a collaborator with documentary filmmaker Ken Burns) on subjects from the history of radio to the Shakers to the interstate highway system, Lewis argues that the Hudson “is more than a river or a maritime highway… It’s a thread that runs through four centuries of American civilization—its culture, its community, and its consciousness.” Here’s a public-radio interview with Lewis.
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