Schuyler Sisters Invade Albany Institute

As mentioned in an earlier CivMix post on Music Haven’s popular “Hamiltunes” sing-along event, the Capital Region is fully in the grip of Hamilton-Mania.

On Tuesday, some 250 people at the Albany Institute of History and Art lifted a glass to Albany’s own Schuyler Sisters and the roles they played in American history and the hit Broadway musical. “The Schuyler Sisters & Their Circle” exhibit opened July 20 and runs through Dec. 29.

Blurbage from the Institute’s website:

“The Schuylers were a prominent Dutch family in New York in the 18th and 19th centuries, who played a central role in the formation of the United States. Renowned Revolutionary War general Philip Schuyler (1733-1804) and his wife Catharine Van Rensselaer (1734-1803) raised eight children in their Albany home. Interest in the Schuyler family has increased in recent years because of the Tony Award-winning Broadway show, which prominently features the three eldest Schuyler daughters: Angelica Schuyler Church, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, and Margaret (Peggy) Schuyler Van Rensselaer.”

Info about the exhibit:

With more than 100 objects and documents, the exhibit explores the world of these 18th century wives and mothers who were also revolutionaries in their own rights. Clothing, furniture, jewelry, artwork, letters, newspapers and maps offer a glimpse into the lives and times of these women, as well as their vast and influential networks.

Beyond tapping into the Institute’s own extensive collection of fine and decorative arts from the Revolutionary Period to the Federal Period, the exhibit brings together items from the collections of 26 other museums and individuals.

The Institute has secured the loan of the rarely exhibited John Trumbull portrait of Angelica Schuyler Church with her child and servant from a private collection, as well as significant loans from Columbia University, the New-York Historical Society, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of the City of New York – among many others.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of the possessions of the Schuyler Sisters – from the elegant to the mundane – brought together in their hometown.

Albany Institute Executive Director Tammis Groft said the exhibit “presents a very intimate look into the personal lives and stories of these women using objects and documents. Eliza Schuyler’s wedding ring (given to her by Alexander Hamilton) may not be in the same room as her portrait ever again.”

The experience:

Many people at the opening reception remarked that it would take “several hours” to fully appreciate the exhibit. Fortunately, the Institute has scheduled several special events to encourage repeat visits. These include:

– My Dearest Friend | museum after dark (MAD) tour | Friday, Aug. 2 | 6 p.m. | $10 non-members, $8 members | registration required

– Albany History Race: Alexander Hamilton Edition! | in partnership with the Albany Public Library | Saturday, Sept. 7 | 2 – 5 p.m. | free, but registration required.

– The Power of Objects in 18th Century British America | lecture | Sunday, Oct. 6 | 2 p.m. | included with admission | space is limited | Dr. Jennifer Van Horn, Assistant Professor of Art and History, University of Delaware

– Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men and Women in the Early Republic | lecture | Sunday, Oct. 27 | 2 p.m. | included with admission | space is limited | Cassandra Good, Assistant Professor of History and Politics, Marymount University.

Only in Smallbany:

State Sen. Neil Breslin was one of the honored guests at the opening reception and noted that even he has a Schuyler connection.

On May 11, 1872, the great-granddaughter of Eliza Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton, Louisa Lee Schuyler, founded the State Charities Aid Association “in response to the deplorable conditions she observed in hospitals and almshouses in New York City.”

Renamed the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy in 2000, the center works to shape policies to improve health, welfare, and human services for all New Yorkers, especially those who are disenfranchised.

The SCAA’s President and CEO? None other than Kate Breslin, the senator’s daughter.

Don’t miss The Schuyler Sisters & Their Circle at the Albany Institute through Dec. 29. (For photos of the exhibit, click here).

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