During his restoration of a ca. 1820 New York farmhouse, antiques dealer Tim Northup sought inspiration at museums and historic houses—including the Farmers’ Museum and Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, not far from his place in Oneonta. Today the town with a population of about 1,770—home to the Baseball Hall of Fame—also boasts SUNY Oneonta’s Cooperstown Graduate Program, which trains museum professionals.
The Farmers’ Museum is a living history site. Its 19th-century Historic Village comprises 24 buildings moved here from around the state and restored: the Greek Revival Dimmick House dates to 1839, the More House to ca. 1818, parts of the Bump Tavern go back to 1795. The Lippitt Farmstead interprets an operating farm of the mid-19th century, and includes the 1800 farmhouse, two barns, and many outbuildings. Museum collections also extend to textiles, wallpapers, and agricultural artifacts.
Those looking for immersion might take workshops, which run from three hours to three days and include courses in blacksmithing, woodcarving, rug braiding, tinsmithing, and folk painting—plus raising hens and beekeeping. (Except for special programs, the museum is closed from Oct. 30 until Mar. 31.) Find more at farmersmuseum.org
The Fenimore Art Museum began as the New York State Historical Association in 1899; one mandate was to archive manuscripts, paintings, and objects associated with state history. The Museum today occupies Fenimore House, a 1930s neo-Georgian mansion built on the site of novelist James Fenimore Cooper’s early farmhouse. (Cooper’s family moved here in the 1790s; the novelist wrote The Last of the Mohicans and the other books, referred to as the Leatherstocking Tales, between 1823 and 1841.)
A separate library and an 18,000-square-foot wing have been added, the latter accommodating one of the country’s most important collections of American Indian art. The Fenimore has superb collections of folk art, photography, and paintings of the Hudson River School and 19th-century genre paintings. More at fenimoreartmuseum.org