Nassau County Museum of Art
History and art are the next best thing to knowing and understanding our beginnings. What better way of preserving our heritage than in a museum. Although must of what can be seen in a museum can be quickly located online, taking a trip down memory lane is a much better experience than a hitting the search button. That is what Nassau County Museum of Art offers. A place full of culture and so much history, it’s like being back in time and yet still in the 21st Century.
The Nassau County Museum of Art is located on the former Frick “Clayton” Estate, which was originally owned by William Cullen. Cullen was a patron of the arts, poet, lawyer and political activist. In 1900, Lloyd Stephens Bryce purchased Bryant’s Upland Farm and commissioned the architect Ogden Codman, Jr. to design Bryce House on an elevated site overlooking Hempstead Harbor. Nassau County Museum of Arts is that house.
In 1969 four years after the last owner Childs Frick passed, the estate was purchased by Nassau County with the goal of establishing Nassau County Museum of Fine Art administered by the county’s Office of Cultural Development. The Museum became a private not-for-profit institution in 1989, and is now governed and funded by a private board of trustees.
The 145 acres surrounding Nassau County of Art is designated as a nature preserve. Marion Cruger Coffin, a member of the American Institute of Landscape Architects, initially designed the beautiful landscape in 1925. The original blueprints of this beautiful landscape are housed in the Museum’s archives along with photographs of the garden taken in the 1930s.
Located about 25 miles east of New York City in Roslyn Harbor, Long Island. Nassau County Museum of Art’s main building, is a three-story Georgian mansion. Designed in the Gold Coast architecture of the late 19th century. Nassau County of Art also houses the Sculpture Park, architecturally-significant restored trellis, rare tree specimens, marked walking trails and the Formal Garden.
Considered among the nation’s largest, most important suburban art museums, Nassau County Museum of Art strives to expand the understanding of art and culture through exhibition and educational programs for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Over 500 permanent collections from both American and European art are housed by the museum. The collections encompasses both 19th and 20th century art pieces. This is through the generous contributions. The Nassau County Museum also presents yearly rotating art exhibitions, many of which originate from our collection.
Edouard Vuillard, Pierre Bonnard, Roy Lichtenstein, Larry Rivers, Chaim Gross, Robert Rauschenberg, Moses Soyer, Robert Indiana, Auguste Rodin, Georges Braque, Alex Katz, Frederick Warren Freer and Irving Ramsey Wiles are some of the many artists included in the collection.
The Formal Garden
One of the breath taking exhibitions of the Nassau County Museum of Art was designed in the 1920s by Marian Cruger Coffin, one of America’s leading landscape architects. She designed this garden at the height of her career. Coffin’s overall plan for the garden was to strengthen, clarify, and enhance the existing arrangement of walks, flower beds, hedges, and entrances, using rectangles, circles, and arches to mirror the shapes found in the symmetrical design of the estate’s mansion.
She also predicted that over time the garden will lose its beauty. In her efforts to maintain her legacy, she taught the compositions of a landscape architecture. Upon the purchase of the estate in 1969, the garden was declared a public garden. Its maintenance was dependent on private donations and volunteers.
The Roslyn Landmark Society in 1989 restored the beautiful teak trellis and in 1993, extensive brick path restoration including the restoration of the garden was funded by New York State’s Environmental Quality Bond Act. Actual restoration of the garden began in 2000.
In present day, the garden offers an elegant space to be admired by lovers of landscape architecture. But most of all, a place to stroll, sit, and enjoy nature. A sanctuary of well thought out reconstructed brick paths, perennial borders, and intricate boxwood designs in four garden rooms, demarcated by yew “walls.” It is an ideal spot to be studied by historic preservationists.
Nassau County Museum of Art’s Sculpture Park is considered one of the largest public exhibition public parks in the Northeast. With around 40 sculptures, majority of which are permanent collections of the museum, lay well situated on the 145 acres of the Nassau County Museum of Art.
Others include the prestigious venues such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and many other galleries. Tom Otterness, Richard Serra, Mark di Suvero, Manolo Valdes, Allen Bertoldi and Fernando Botero are just some of the artists whose work is to be seen on the grounds.
As part of the community, Nassau County Museum of Art provides a variety of educational programs. The after school program, for example, provide tours to the museum exhibitions and customized workshops for specific interest groups can be arranged.
Another of the museums community outreach program includes the Autism & the Arts & Creative Expeditions. The program was created in 2007 for the sole intention of encouraging communication in children with autism.
Workshops are led by teaching artists trained in art therapy who encourage children with autism to express themselves through conversations around works of art in our galleries and in hands on painting, drawing, and sculpture projects. The launch was made possible through the collaboration between NCMA and the North Shore Autism Circle.
Nassau County Museum of Art is located at One Museum Drive in Roslyn Harbor. Admission to the main building is $12 for adults, $8 for seniors (62+) and $4 for children ages 4-12. Hours for the main building are 11 am to 4:45 pm Tuesday through Sunday.
Docent-led tours of the main exhibition are offered at 2 pm each day; free with museum admission. Meet in the lobby, no reservations are needed. Family art activities and tours are offered Sundays from 1 pm; free with museum admission. The Museum Store is open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 am-4:30 pm. For more information: http://www.nassaumuseum.org/default.php