Art Break: Museums of Long Island Are Steeped in History While Capitalizing on Their Picturesque Settings
By A. E. Colas, Contributing Writer, August 27, 2018
When people think of Long Island, they tend to think about the outdoors: the beaches, ocean, parks, wineries – even the best mall on the Island is an outdoor one. Not Art Break! When we think of Long Island what springs to mind are the artists’ colonies of the East End and North Fork, the sculpture gardens of Nassau and Suffolk counties, and the community involvement of so many museums. Join the locals and get inspired by the many arts programs on offer with our map of locations to help you plan a great trip.
Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, located on the old Frick estate, is known for specializing in 19th and 20th century American and European art as well as having a beautiful garden, well-marked nature trails, and an excellent sampling of modern sculpture on display. There are two special exhibitions currently on view: True Colors and A Mirror to Nature: Sculpture by Marko Remec (both ongoing).
Old Westbury Gardens, Old Westbury, is a delightful collection of plants and landscaping. Besides tours of the gardens (either guided or on your own) there are educational programs and seasonal events for all ages. This summer, the Gardens have a special exhibit called The Great War – Portraits of Privilege, Duty, and Sacrifice with an emphasis on the efforts of the Long Island community at that time.
The Long Island Museum, Stony Brook, is both an art museum and a treasure trove of Long Island history. With buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries on site, a nationally known collection of pre-automobile transportation, and a sculpture garden, this beloved institution has educated generations of Long Islanders in regional and national history. In addition to the permanent exhibits, there are three temporary shows: The Land of Moses: Robert Moses and Modern Long Island (June 22 – October 28), Revolution in Printmaking: Larry Rivers and Universal Limited Art Editions (May 11 – September 3), Perfect Harmony: The Musical Life and Art of William Sidney Mount (February 16 – September 3).
Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, charms visitors with its permanent collection ranging from German Renaissance to the present day. There is also an excellent group of European and American Modernism works on view, an unexpected pleasure in a regional museum. For the summer/fall season The Heckscher is hosting the Long Island Biennial (August 4 – November 11), a juried exhibition promoting the artists of the Long Island area. Other exhibits are The Tile Club: Camaraderie and American Plein-Air Painting (August 4 – November 4), and Surface Tension: Pictorial Space in 20th-Century Art (ongoing).
Parrish Art Museum, Southampton, is an interesting example of a small museum with big accomplishments. The holdings focus on 19th through 21st century American art, but also reflect the unique relationship between artists and the East End of Long Island. The current offering of special exhibitions feature local and international artists, linked by their desire to explore and define the world around them: Keith Sonnier: Until Today (July 1, 2018 – January 27, 2019), Platform: Barthélémy Toguo: The Beauty of Our Voice (August 5 – October 14), The Permanent Collection: Five and Forward (November 10, 2017 – October 31, 2018) and Tokyo Brushstroke I & II (1994) by Roy Lichtenstein (ongoing).
The Leiber Collection, Easthampton, is first and foremost a love story told through art and objects. Founded in 2005 by Judith and Gerson Leiber, the museum and gardens display the interests and work from careers of this devoted couple, who both passed away this spring. This year’s summer show, A Marriage of True Minds Remembered is a tribute to their lives and well worth a visit. There are also two permanent displays: Judith Leiber Handbags and Antique Chinese Porcelains from Eight Dynasties (206 BCE to 1912).
Cover: A view of the gardens of Old Westbury Gardens; courtesy of Old Westbury Gardens.