As the price of admission for many New York City museums tops $20, it is refreshing to find a facility within 30 minutes of Grand Central Station that gives a great value for a nominal fee of $5. Perched above the Hudson River in Yonkers, just a five minute walk from the Metro North station is The Hudson River Museum. Established nearly a hundred years ago, it offers a delightful and engaging mix of art, architecture, history, science, and social commentary in one concentrated package.
The museum is not easily defined. It has a permanent art collection of Hudson River vistas and the incredible mid-19th century mansion, Glenview, but it also offers a range of special exhibits that alone would merit a trip up the Hudson. And for those people with a scientific bent, the Andrus Planetarium offers more than a dozen programs for children and adults alike, including star shows, a tour around the moon, and a review of the geological history of the Hudson Valley.
Through May 10th, a large and thoughtfully presented exhibit of one of America’s greatest illustrators graces the museum. This retrospective of Joseph Christian Leyendecker (1874-1951) is one of those serendipities that we find ourselves talking about for days. Few people recognize his name, but Leydendecker created more covers for the Saturday Evening Post (322) than his better-known and younger colleague, Norman Rockwell. He also produced forty-eight cover paintings for Collier’s magazine, and was also widely hailed for his work in the commercial markets. His work was simply brilliant . . . and the museum captures it all.
The name Red Grooms is well known in art circles around the world. His distinctive style is spectacularly displayed in The Bookstore, a three-dimensional, room-sized project commissioned for the museum; this space captures many of the themes that appear in Grooms’ most notable works. You walk into his fanciful bookstore, walls and ceiling aglow, filled with colorful characters, racks of vibrant books, and an exuberance than is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
Other exhibits that will hold your interest: 1) Mark O’Banks’ Nybelwyck Hall, a huge 26-room dollhouse with many rooms patterned after 19th century houses in the Hudson Valley. 2) Eating on Arcadia, an extensive display of “transferware”— numerous plates, platters, and pitchers depicting magnificent views along the Hudson dating back to the 1820s. 3) The works of Whitfield Lovell, a Bronx-born contemporary artist whose constructions made from everyday objects provide a striking commentary on the lives of African Americans from Reconstruction through World War II.
When you have been awed by the art, it’s time to take a stroll through time and visit the Glenview Mansion. Completed in 1877, it is furnished in a style that accurately reflects the way its residents lived in the late 19th century and contains high quality paintings and decorative arts. The space is exquisite and the restoration will make you want to linger for a casual tea or brandy.
I asked several of my Manhattan friends if they had ever visited the museum, and the response was a uniform, “No, never had the chance.” Most were not even sure where it was. What a pity. The Hudson River Museum will give you an experience you’ll treasure, and did I mention the glorious views of the Hudson River and the Palisades?
How to Get There: Pick up the Metro-North Hudson Line from Grand Central Terminal to Glenwood Station, just one stop north of Yonkers. Walk 1 block east on Glenwood Avenue; turn left onto Ravine Avenue. At the end of Ravine Avenue, turn left into Trevor Park. Follow path to museum entrance.
Wednesday – Sunday • 12-5 pm; Friday • 12-8 pm
Closed Monday & Tuesday
Admission: Adult – $5, Seniors & Children $3
Saturday & Sunday Shows 12:30 pm • 1:30 pm • 2:30 pm • 3:30 pm
Free Friday Show • 7 pm
Admission: Adult $2, Seniors & Children $1
(The Hudson River Museum, 511 Warburton Ave., Yonkers, 914.963.4550, hrm.org)