Published: March 13, 2007
The Albany Institute of History and Art will open the exhibition “Full Steam Ahead: Robert Fulton and the Age of Steamboats” on Saturday, March 24. This exhibition will commemorate the 200th anniversary of Robert Fulton’s first steamboat voyage of the Clermont in 1807 from New York City to Albany, with images, artifacts and the bellowing sounds of steamboats from a by-gone era.
Drawn from the museum’s collections and featuring new research and rediscovered objects, this exhibition will focus on Fulton’s work on steam transportation, and his efforts to establish the first viable commercial steamboat service on American waterways. With the aid of his politically influential partner, New York State Chancellor Robert R. Livingston, Fulton secured sole rights to all steam powered navigation within the region by an act of the New York State Legislature in 1798. The partners and their families continued to profit until the Supreme Court case, Gibbons vs. Ogden, in 1824, dissolved the monopoly and determined the course of the American common market as we know it today.
“Full Steam Ahead: Robert Fulton and the Age of Steamboats,” will be installed in the third floor galleries, and will highlight Fulton’s improvements on steam transportation, and the outcome of his efforts to establish the first steamboat service on the waterways of the young United States.
The introductory square gallery will feature early steamboat history with examples of mechanical drawings and watercolors, including “Three Part Study of a Ship,” by Richard Varick DeWitt, with depictions of the Clermont and Fulton’s next vessel, The North River Steamboat ; and several prints and paintings, including “Clermont Making a Landing at Cornwall” by E.L. Henry; as well as ephemera from the library’s special collections.
The round gallery will present Nineteenth and Twentieth Century steamboat art including images of the famous Hudson River Dayline , and “The Grand Saloon of the Palace Steamer Drew,” by G.R. Parsons; along with several images of pack boats, mail lines and the world of fashionable steamboat travel in prints, paintings, photographs and the period clothing from museum storage.
“Full Steam Ahead: Robert Fulton and the Age of Steamboats” will be on display through December, and will serve as a prelude to the Albany Institute’s major 2009 Hudson-Fulton Quadra Centennial celebration.
For general information, www.albanyinstitute.org or 518-463-4478.
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