Browse Exhibits (24 total)

Before Bard: A Sense of Place

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Since its founding as St. Stephen’s College in 1860, Bard has changed the lives of many in the arts and learning. It has also changed the community it calls home. If a sense of place is essential to self-knowledge, those who live and work in the Bard community can only be enriched by knowing more about those who have gone before.

The students in Bard's Public History Practicum, an on-going student project, have developed this exhibit to help us all understand more about this place we call Bard. Please click on The Place below to begin the exhibit.

Pleasure Grounds

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Pleasure Grounds tells the story of the major estates that once comprised the Bard College campus of Annandale-on-Hudson along with the people that imbued them with character and historical value. From the late 1700s throughout most of the 19th century the town of Annandale, then called Cedar Hill, flourished as a mill center. As designers and artists came to discover the breathtaking scenery of the Hudson Valley the term pleasure grounds was born. The area grew in aesthetic popularity and gorgeous estates began to spring up along the river. Between years 1775 and 1835 these estates were designed in a particularly Neoclassical style, and most often modeled after European architecture. By the mid-1800s the romantic period had reached its peak. A shift occurred in architectural leaning from Neoclassical riverfront estates to new romantic designs that stressed emotion, individualism, eclecticism, and an appreciation for beauty. It also goes without saying that these elaborate homes could not have been constructed and maintained without the hands and strength of laborers. These laborers, either on their own volition or by enslavement, worked long, arduous hours building, tending, cooking, and child-rearing. This exhibit uses a map to plot out important buildings and locations along with the people associated with those places.

Growing in Annandale

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Bard isn't just a fertile ground for the thoughts of students. For centuries the soil of the Hudson Valley has attracted farmers, from indigenous people to European colonizers, to grow. Agricultural production was a well established vocation by time Bard College was founded in 1860. The story of agriculture in the area is reflective of the growth of the US economy and history; nothing is stagnant. As America shifts and changes, so too have the farms surrounding the intellectual enclave of Annandale-on-Hudson. After a period of decline and disrepair the agricultural tradition of the Hudson Valley is now closer than ever to Bard. From the vibrant farm communities, rooted in the history of the Hudson Valley, to Bard’s own working farm, this history is as important as ever for Bard.

ER: The People's Advocate


This exhibit explores how Eleanor Roosevelt redefined the role of the First Lady. The American people had, in the White House, a passionate advocate that attuned and connected to the public. During her time as First Lady, and during the years after FDR’s death, she devoted herself to the betterment of society. 

Trousers Won't Do the Trick: Eleanor Roosevelt and Feminism


“No, I have never wanted to be a man. I have often wanted to be more effective as a woman, but I have never felt that trousers would do the trick!” -If You Ask Me (1940)

 This exhibit chronicles the efforts made by Eleanor Roosevelt to eliminate the gap between sexes in society and in politics. It looks not only at the example she presented for women looking to make an impact but also at the policy changes she pushed for that aimed to give all women equal opportunities and the outreach programs she founded for women of all ages to improve their lives in America and all around the world. This exhibit will span her whole life: from her work with the League of Women Voters before FDR was elected to her work in the United Nations and beyond when she fought to ensure equal pay and opportunities for women internationally. It not only creates a timeline of impacts during her life but also explores her impact on feminism in the 21st century and how her legacy continues to create opportunities for women and redefine the role of women in politics every day. 

Eleanor Roosevelt: Patron Saint of the Arts


This exhibition examines the hidden and important role Eleanor Roosevelt played in the formation of New Deal arts programs, as well as her advocacy for the fine arts in American culture. Mrs. Roosevelt articulated multiple dimensions to the role of art in American culture: the connection between making and participating, the appreciation of beauty in simple things, and art as a means to connect individuals to larger national narratives. This exhibition examines these themes through personal correspondence, speeches, radio broadcasts, and especially art objects. 

Eleanor Roosevelt: "We Make Our Own History"

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In Tomorrow Is Now, written during the last months of her life, Eleanor Roosevelt proclaimed, “One thing I believe profoundly: We make our own history.” This quote is a clarion call for all of us to use history to guide principled individual action to make the world a better place to live. Three students enrolled in History 3151, a research practicum in public history, curated the exhibits that follow. Please click on "New Situtations, New Answers" to the right to start the exhibit.

Hudson Valley Sublime: Romanticism and Development

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Since the first European settlers arrived in the 1600s, the Hudson Valley has drawn immigrants from around the world who have seen, in its rich pastoral beauty, the potential to live out an American destiny of open space and unbridled expansion. Red Hook and Rhinebeck started out as collections of land patents owned by Dutch and English gentry, before developing into towns settled by British and American elites, who built lavish estates and properties to take advantage of the bucolic countryside. Today, members of America’s recently established middle class call these towns home. While they have ceased to be the epicenters for the country’s wealthy that they once were, these towns continue to be shaped by a uniquely American conception of Romanticism that originated when they were cultural capitals for the elites. Beginning in the nineteenth century, American Romanticism played a significant role in shaping the towns’ architecture and environment, and Romantic ideas about the role of nature, art, and history have continued to affect the towns’ efforts towards environmental and historic preservation to this very day.

Cultivating a Taste for Scenery

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When the Romantic conception of nature began taking hold in America, especially the Hudson Valley, attitudes towards the region’s scenery changed. The owners and residents of estates such as Blithewood, Montgomery Place, and Clermont were closely involved in these changing conceptions of Hudson Valley scenery, and their estates became examples of a Romantic aesthetic. Some of these elite citizens had personal relationships with famous Hudson River landscape painters, or practiced landscape painting themselves. 

Precisely Not: Works from the Stefan Hirsch and Elsa Rogo Collection



This exhibit examines a collection of papers, photographs, and artwork donated by Elsa Rogo to Bard College that have been recently processed and preserved. The collection, which ranges from personal notes, typewritten speeches, small doodles, sketches for murals, lithographs, postcards, and even a death mask, exposes the development of Hirsch’s style over the course of his teaching, creating, and thinking about art. In particular, this exhibit challenges the existing scholarship that labels Hirsch as precisionist artist, suggesting instead that he is “precisely not” such an artist as evidenced by the collection. 

Biographical Note

Stefan Hirsch was a professor of painting at Bard College beginning in 1942 until his retirement in 1960. He was born in 1899 in Germany, where he began studying art. In 1917, he immigrated to the United States. He would become an artist associated with the Precisionist movement in American art, which included artists such as Charles Sheeler, George Ault, Joseph Stella, and Charles Demuth, among others. Like many of this group from the 1920s and 1930s, Hirsch received acclaim for his clean, geometric, and mechanistic style then in vogue as a result of the successful rise of modernist art in the United States.

In 1930 in New York City, he married Elsa Rogo, an artist and noted photojournalist. Together, they spent an extended honeymoon in Mexico, visiting pre-Columbian sites and befriending artists like Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Jose Clemente Orozco. Hirsch and Rogo travelled between the United States and Latin America for the remainder of Hirsch’s life. Hirsch continued painting and printmaking, while Rogo worked as a photojournalist and teacher. In the 1930s, he was involved in the New Deal Arts programs, and taught mural painting and art criticism at Bennington College and the Art Students League.
In 1942, Stefan Hirsch accepted a teaching appointment in painting at Bard College, where he led the Division of the Arts. Together with Rogo, he taught at Bard until his retirement in 1960. In 1961 he was granted the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Bard College. His first retrospective exhibition occurred in 1964 at Bard College, and another was organized at the Phillips Collection in 1977.