1919: Founding of the Museum

The Hudson River Museum was founded in Yonkers, New York, 100 years ago this year, when a group of local residents joined forces. Together, they aimed to start a museum that would provide “instruction and entertainment” to the general public and be “a matter of pride to the citizens of the town.” Like many museums, it began with only a few individuals, an idea, and a commitment to action.

Among the philanthropically minded organizers of the so-called Yonkers Museum was attorney Edwin C. Mott, public school superintendent Charles E. Gorton, and mining engineer Colonel William Boyce Thompson. Mott donated an extensive collection of minerals, which were placed in display cabinets in Yonkers City Hall for public viewing. According to an article in The Yonkers Statesman, the display was “. . . designed to interest teachers and the young people of the city in the marvelous processes being worked out by the laws of nature in the crust of the earth.”

Mott, who also ran the project, rallied civic leaders, business people, collectors, philanthropists, and organization to add to the collection. Over the next few years, it rapidly expanded in both size and genre. By the time the organizers were applying for a state charter in 1921, the Yonkers Statesman reported the Museum would become “a place for the exhibition of objects of art and natural history.” The roots of the Museum were set.



Image: Teale. Yonkers City Hall, ca. 1907. Watercolor on cloth. Gift of Mr. Frank J. Duffy, 1950 (50.84).