ALBANY.- An exhibition commemorating the 100th birthday of Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller opened at the Empire State Plaza and New York State Museum, showcasing selected artwork, the governors official car, campaign memorabilia, and other items reflecting Rockefellers passionate interest in art, politics and architecture.
Rockefeller at 100 is a four-part exhibition made possible by a collaboration among the State Museum, State Archives, State Library, Office of Public Broadcasting and the Office of General Services (OGS) Plaza Art Collection.
"Nelson Rockefeller's legacy lives on all around us," said First Lady Michelle Paige Paterson. "From his advocacy for affordable housing and the highest minimum wage in the nation, to his major land preservation and infrastructure development projects, Nelson Rockefeller laid the groundwork for much of what makes our State great. I encourage all New Yorkers to learn more about this Governor, who went on to serve our nation as Vice President."
The exhibition, open through October 12, reflects Rockefellers lifelong interest in art and architecture. As governor he wanted to create the most beautiful state capital in America a capital that would reflect the Empire States political and cultural importance. He hired one of the nations most prestigious architects -- Wallace K. Harrison -- who had designed Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center and the United Nations Building. They envisioned the Empire State Plaza as a monumental seat of government and culture, which would include an impressive collection of modern art. A serious art collector himself, Rockefeller was determined to bring art out of the sanctity of a museum to a larger public audience.
Selected artwork, acquired by Rockefeller for the Plaza Art Collection, is displayed on the Museums fourth-floor Terrace Gallery. Works include an Andy Warhol painting, Portrait of Nelson Rockefeller, loaned to the collection by Mrs. Nelson (Happy) Rockefeller. The works reflect the former governors interest in the New York School of Art and includes five other paintings, created by Philip Guston, Grace Hartigan, Kenzo Okada, James Brooks and Conrad Marca-Relli, and sculpture by Seymour Lipton.
The modern art collection on the Empire State Plaza was selected by a commission of art experts appointed by Rockefeller as the Empire State Plaza was being constructed between 1965 and 1978. The collection consists of mostly abstract works created in the 1960s and 1970s by artists who were members of the New York School, the first American art movement to have worldwide significance.
In the first floor lobby of the Cultural Education Center, the architectural model of the Empire State Plaza is on display. There is also a slide show of images of the governor, as well as others showing the construction of the Empire State Plaza. It is believed that Rockefeller was motivated to build the Empire State Plaza when Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands visited and he was embarrassed to show her Albanys deteriorated downtown area. Inspired by the Dalai Lamas palace atop the hill in Tibet, the governor dictated the Plazas basic design and was deeply involved with all aspects of its planning. Construction began in 1965 and the Plaza was completed in 1978, at a cost of $1.7 billion.
Campaign memorabilia covering Rockefellers four political campaigns for governor, from the Museum and State Librarys William E. Winnewisser Collection, is on display in the Museums West Gallery corridor. Special messages Rockefeller delivered to the Legislature, to support legislation he was particularly interested in, is also on exhibit in this area. These documents are from the collection of the State Archives.
In the south end of the concourse, visitors can see the 1967 Lincoln Continental Lehman-Peterson limousine that the governor used while traveling in the Albany area. He used an identical, privately owned car in New York City. Covering 86,000 miles, the official car also saw considerable use during the administrations of succeeding governors.