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Lunchtime Lecture: Art of the Erie Canal

September 21 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


The Erie Canal, the foremost engineering marvel of the 19th century, sparked the imagination of artists in America and abroad. Learn about art inspired by the canal, and the opportunities it afforded artists, both trained and untrained, working in a variety of media—such as paintings, photographs, sketches, transfer-printed earthenware, and beadwork. This lecture will feature works from the New York State Museum’s collections, as well as from cultural institutions and private lenders across the state—just a small sample of the wealth of Erie Canal art made over the course of its first 150 years.


Karen E. Quinn is Senior Historian and Curator, Art and Culture at the New York State Museum.  Currently she is researching and building the collection of art related to New York State including decorative arts, paintings, works on paper, architecture, photography, popular culture, literature, and music, and interpreting them for the museum visitor.  In addition, she is working with colleagues to develop interdisciplinary exhibitions, public programs, and publications that put works of art into their historical and cultural context.  Exhibitions have included Art of the Erie Canal (2018), The Historic Woodstock Art Colony: Arthur A. Anderson Collection (2018-19), Tonalism: Pathway from the Hudson River School to Modernism (2020), and Captured: Recent Photography Acquisitions (2023).  She has a BA Honours in Art History from McGill University and an MA in Art History from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ashley Hopkins-Benton is a senior historian and curator of social history at the New York State Museum, where her research and collections work focuses on women’s history, LGBTQ+ history, immigration, sculpture, toys, glass, and ceramics. Her publications include Enterprising Waters: The History and Art of New York’s Erie Canal (2020, with Brad Utter and Karen Quinn), Votes for Women: Celebrating New York’s Suffrage Centennial (2017, with Dr. Jennifer Lemak), and Breathing Life Into Stone: The Sculpture of Henry DiSpirito (2013). She holds a MA in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and a BA in Art Education and Studio Art from SUNY Potsdam.


Online and in person.


September 21
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


Erie Canal Museum
318 Erie Blvd E
Syracuse, NY 13202 United States
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(315) 471-0593
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