10 Things to Do at the Fenimore Museum of Art in Cooperstown, New York

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The Fenimore Art Museum, located in Cooperstown, New York, has a collection of over 4,000 pieces of art, with collections showcasing early American Indian art, fine and folk art, decorative arts, photography, and local young adult artists. Opened in 1899 as the New York State Historical Association, the NYSHA moved in the late 1930s to the home of the late James Fenimore Cooper’s farm in Cooperstown. The museum expanded in the 1990s to include generous donated collections of art, and formally became the Fenimore Art Museum in 2017. Its sister property, the Farmers’ Museum is located across the street (and definitely worthy of a visit- kids will LOVE the museum!) and visitors can purchase a combined ticket to both properties.

Travel Tips:

  • The museum is open April, May, and September through December from Tuesday through Sunday from 10am-4pm, and June through August seven days a week from 10am-5pm.  “Kids” ages 19 and younger receive free admission. See up to date information on hours and admission fees here
  • Plenty of free parking next to the museum.
  • A gift shop, located to the left of the admissions desk, offers a curated collection of gifts, many of which relate to the current exhibits.
  • Restrooms are located on the lower level and 2nd floor; the museum is handicap accessible via an elevator.
  • The Fenimore Café, open Wednesday through Sunday from 11am-3pm, offers sandwiches, soups, salads, and snacks and plenty of outdoor veranda seating (and a few indoor tables).  Downtown Cooperstown, one mile away, offers a wide variety of dining options- see an index here.
  • Be sure to grab More Cards near the admission desk to engage with the artwork.
  • The museum offers weekly programs and events and daily docent led tours (included in admission fees); families will be especially interested in Tuesday Preschool Hours and  workshops like clay forms weaving.
  • Plan on 75-90 minutes to explore all the exhibits and outside areas. See a full museum map here.

10 Things to Do at the Fenimore Art Museum:

  1. Choose a favorite weathervane from the collection in the Main Gallery. Be sure to check out some of the other popular works of art, including “Night Game at Yankee Stadium” (1981) and the American Masterworks exhibit that includes paintings from John Singer Sargent, Georgia O’Keefe, and Childe Hassam.
  2. Explore the Thaw Gallery’s collection of American Indian Art, which includes over 850 authentic objects and works of art such as canoe models, medicine bags, woven blankets and baskets, headdresses, and paintings. 
  3. View some of Bob Dylan’s pencil and charcoal drawings from his private collection in the Remastered: Drawings from the Road exhibit. Dylan sketched all 92 drawings on display while on his “Never Ending Tour” tour from 1989 to 1992.  **exhibit runs through mid September 2024
  4. Keep an eye out for miniature sketches of rats from the Banksy exhibit hidden throughout the museum exhibits.  **exhibit runs through early September 2024.
  5. Create your own artwork in the Education Room (2nd floor) and enjoy a quiet moment to read an art related book. The Education Room also has magnetic sets and cozy nooks for relaxing.

  1. Admire the artwork of local teens in the Community Room, which displays regional youth art contests. 
  2. See a collection of art from American women artists in the As They Like It  exhibit (2nd floor), which includes paintings, drawings, textiles, and sculptures borrowed from the Springfield Museum (see our feature here) and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (see our feature here).  **exhibit runs through early September 2024.
  3. Weave through Marc Hom’s Reframed exhibit outside. The 12 studio portraits, 11 feet tall, are displayed on rotating Masonite frames on the back lawn of the museum.  The exhibit continues inside with dozens of his framed photographs of celebrities.  **exhibit runs through early September 2024.
  4. Peek inside the Seneca Log House from 1790. Originally built on a Tonawanda Indian Reservation in western New York, it was acquired by the museum in 1996 and reconstructed and furnished to replicate living on the Tonawanda Seneca Nation reservation in the 1850s. 
  5. Walk along the quarter mile lakefront trail and learn about Lake Otsego and the origins of the museum property. 

Bonus: Check the museum calendar for special programs and performances at the outdoor amphitheater, which opened in 20215. Summer 2024 performances include Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Looking for other adventures nearby? Check out the Farmers’ Museum across the street and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, less than a mile away. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and X

Disclosure: Our family was given a media pass to explore the museum; all opinions expressed are my own. 

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4 Comments

  1. This museum has a wonderful location–I love the fact that you can combine a lakeside walk with the museum visit.

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