07/18/14 10:00am
07/18/2014 10:00 AM
Suffolk County Historical Society executive director Kathy Curran in the organization's East Wing Gallery Thursday.  Workers are moving furniture and artwork into storage while the space is restored. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Suffolk County Historical Society executive director Kathy Curran in the organization’s East Wing Gallery Thursday. Workers are moving furniture and artwork into storage while the space is restored. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

The Suffolk County Historical Society is one step closer toward giving its East Wing Gallery a makeover. (more…)

06/09/14 8:00am
06/09/2014 8:00 AM
Ellen Glasser, president of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI (left), speaks about the Benson House as Vicki Jean Johnson, the daughter of one of the WWII agents (center) watches on. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Ellen Glasser, president of the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI (left), speaks outside the Benson House as Vicki Jean Johnson, the daughter of one of the WWII agents (center) watches on. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Midway through her speech at the Benson House in Wading River, Suffolk County Historical Society director Kathy Curran became overwhelmed with emotion.

She stopped reading her prepared statements, and looked at the four elderly World War II veterans sitting in the front row, one of whom stormed the beaches at Normandy 70 years ago.

“I’m just so moved,” she said. “To be in the presence of these heroes … it’s just so important that this be recognized, that your service be honored.”  (more…)

03/05/14 7:00am
03/05/2014 7:00 AM
The Suffolk County Historical Society. (File photo by News-Review)

The Suffolk County Historical Society. (File photo by News-Review)

The Suffolk County Historical Society in Riverhead is hosting a Tea and Talk event next Thursday, March 13, at 1 p.m. titled “Amazing Women and How They Gained the Vote.”

Guest speakers include representatives from the American Association of University Women. The group is expected to present PowerPoint slideshow and discuss aspects of the women’s suffragist movement.

Finger sandwiches, tea and sweets served. Tickets cost $15. For more information, call 631-727-2881.

12/11/13 7:00pm
12/11/2013 7:00 PM

FILE PHOTO | The Suffolk County Historical Society will offer stipends to local history organizations. 

The Suffolk County Historical Society announced Wednesday it will begin offering stipends of up to $500 for local history organizations to help finance the cost of future exhibitions, publications and special projects.

Funds for the stipends, which the Suffolk County Historical Society is referring to as “History Alive” grants, are being provided by Heart For Art, a non-profit group that selected the Suffolk County Historical Society to administer History Alive incentives.

The grants will be awarded on a rolling basis throughout 2014, the Suffolk County Historical Society said.

“Local history groups do so much with so little,” said Kathryn Curran, executive director of the Suffolk County Historical Society. “It is wonderful that funds are now available to offset costs and to encourage grassroots history groups to take on the new challenges of engaging in community outreach.”

To apply for a stipend, local history groups must include proof of non-profit status and write a one-page proposal describing a new project and its need for funds. Pictures and represtantative brochures, if available, should also be included.

“We have tried to make the application process as simple as possible,” Ms. Curran said. “We want to hear from the local historical societies.”

Applications can be mailed to:

Kathryn M. Curran
Suffolk County Historical Society
300 West Main Street, Riverhead, NY 11901

ryoung@timesreview.com

10/19/13 12:00pm
10/19/2013 12:00 PM

BARBARALLEN KOCH PHOTO | Andy Warhol’s Souper Dress, courtesy of Woodward Gallery, is paired with a 19th-century dress from the historical society’s permanent collection, at the entry to the exhibit.

The Suffolk County Historical Society opened its new exhibit, ‘Back to the Future: Contemporary Artists Consider the Permanent Collection’ Friday evening.

The show features 11 contemporary painters, sculptors and a photographer, all of whom have created new works for this exhibit. The works utilize themes or materials that echo the older, antique nature of most of the items in the society’s permanent collection. As stated in the society’s newsletter: “the exhibit’s featured work focuses not on copying the past but rather considers history as fluid, something that is constantly in dialogue with the present and future.”

The exhibit was curated by Mary Lou Cohalan with assistance by Martina Camarola.

“Exhibiting the antique pieces from our collection alongside these contemporary works is a thought provoking way to view history,” said executive director Kathy Curran. ”It places our objects in another context that brings history to life.”

Funding for the exhibit is provided by Heart for Art and a special grant from the Suffolk County Office of Cultural Affairs to encourage collaborations among nonprofit agencies on Long Island. The exhibit will run through Nov. 23.

The artists in the exhibit are: Cara Barer, Rob Carter, Juddith Condon, Elizabeth Duffy, Katherine Frey, Susan Hoeltzel, Keith Long, Judy Richardson, Donna Sharrett, Karen Shaw and Andy Warhol.

07/20/13 2:30pm
07/20/2013 2:30 PM

SUFFOLK COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY COURTESY PHOTO | The new wing at the Suffolk County Historical Society shown in this photo illustration will be handicap accessible and is expected to cost between $750,000 and $1 million.

The Suffolk County Historical Society, keeper of over 20,000 artifacts from the county’s past, is putting together plans to launch a fundraising campaign to pay for a new addition to its 83-year-old building.

The addition, which will include two handicapped-accessible bathrooms, an elevator and a new orientation space, will comply with regulations set by the Americans with Disabilities Act and make the entire building more accessible to all who wish to visit.

Director Kathy Curran said the board always knew the building needed to be more friendly to people with disabilities or ailments, but the issue became truly apparent during an exhibit this past February.

The show honored Lee Hayes, a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen, the country’s first African-American aviators. The opening reception included a conversational interview with Mr. Hayes and a photo exhibit of the airmen. The event generated one of the biggest turnouts the museum has ever had — and as Mr. Hayes is now in his 90s, the exhibit drew a good number of older folk.

“There were a lot of elderly people who attended and we had to help so many up and down the stairs throughout the day,” Ms. Curran explained. “The board members physically saw right in front of their eyes how much we needed this.”

The society is now looking for corporate sponsorships, working on grant writing and asking for donations. The estimated cost of the project is between $750,000 and $1 million, but the exact number won’t be known until the final plans are drawn up and a contractor’s bid is selected. The society hopes to pay for the work outright and expects the plans to be finished by the end of the year.

Riverhead architect Gary Jacquemin was chosen for the project, and the board members picked their favorite from his five different conceptual designs. Mr. Jacquemin is currently working on preliminary plans, and will work on them full-time once more funding is secured.

“I want it [the addition] to signal the rebirth of the activities within the building,” Mr. Jacquemin said. “The historical society has a new director, new board members, some new policies. We also want the addition to reflect the revitalization of downtown Riverhead as a whole.”

Though the existing building dates from 1930, Ms. Curran said museum officials aren’t focused on having the new wing blend in.

“We want to have 21st-century architecture added onto the historic building site,” she said.

“The addition will acknowledge and be respectful of the standing building,” Mr. Jacquemin said. “It will be lightweight and connect to the original building with bridges with skylights above them. We’re not trying to upstage the current building. The board and I are big believers that new buildings should not try to replicate history and that the older building should be the one that remains historic.”

Bob Barauskas, president of the museum’s board of trustees, said that although planning for the addition began a year and a half ago, construction will probably not be completed for another two years.

“I’m very optimistic,” he said. “I came onto the board in 2008 and we’ve just gained so much momentum in the last two years. I’m very excited about the direction we’re going in.”

When asked if the added wing will help increase revenue, Mr. Barauskas responded with a firm, “Of course.”

“People have asked me many times about having handicapped-accessible options,” he said. “There’s just so much that it will offer.”

“We see this as another part of the revitalization of Riverhead as a cultural center,” Ms. Curran added. “With the library, the science museum, the theaters and the aquarium all on our block, we are situated on a little cultural corridor.”

intern@timesreview.com

03/25/13 8:00am
03/25/2013 8:00 AM
Museum of Natural History comes to Long Island

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Anthropologist and archeologist Lisa Stevenson of Aquebogue inside the mobile museum which has exhibits on nomadic people: the Native Americans on Long Island, Montana and Mongolia.

The Suffolk County Historical Society’s “Moveable Museum” has officially rolled into action.

Artifacts are now easier than ever for students to access thanks to a unique gift from the Museum of National History.

Suffolk County Historical Society bus from

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A Mongolian vessel made of Yak leather, 600 year-old Indian wampum beads and 1,000 year-old Indian spearheads.

In May 2012, the New York City museum donated a 37-foot-long Winnebago, retrofitted as a 250-square-foot exhibition space. The walk-in exhibit is designed to teach about nomadic cultures.

Now, after nearly one year, a new paint job and other interior upgrades, the mobile museum made its debut last Tuesday in the Sachem School District.

Students from Nokomis Elementary School in Holtsville learned about the Gabra, Mongol, Blackfeet and Algonkian people through interactive exhibits. The displays feature artifacts from both the American Museum of Natural History and the Suffolk County Historical Society.

“It’s like we’re training young Indiana Joneses,” said Kathryn Curran, Suffolk County Historical Society’s executive director. “It is a bridge to communities and neighborhoods.”

The museum also serves as a bridge to Suffolk County’s past. The historical society added the Algonkian exhibit as a way to bring the area’s history to life for students.

The Algonkian people are native to Long Island and the SCHS collection includes nearly 5,000 spearheads, arrows and other artifacts. Many are on display in the mobile museum.

The historical society hired two educators, Lisa Stevenson and Jen Lacey, to manage its rotating exhibits.

Ms. Stevenson, a practicing anthropologist and educator for more than 20 years, has tailored the program toward school-aged children. The curriculum is broken into two parts, a classroom session in school and a hands-on session in the mobile museum. Each meets New York State standards for education.

“It fits the need at the right time,” Ms. Stevenson said. “This is the best possible scenario.”

The historical society is currently seeking sponsors for the Moveable Museum.

Those interested in helping with or participating in the project can call 631-727-2881, ext. 101.

cmurray@timesreview.com

Moveable Museum in Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Suffolk County Historical Society’s ‘moveable museum’ made its inaugural trip to an elementary school in Sachem School District last week.