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Central Park

The Alice Austen Exhibit On Display At The Central Park Arsenal

Friday, March 14, 2008
No. 17

Today, the Parks Department celebrated the opening of the “Austen at the Arsenal” at the Central Park Arsenal. More than 30 photographs by famed photographer Alice Austen, some which have never been on display, are featured in the exhibit.

Alice Austen (1866 - 1952), a Staten Island native, was one of America's earliest and most prolific female photographers. She produced images that caught the attention of New York City and the world. Austen may be the only woman in America, with the exception of Eleanor Roosevelt, to have a museum, ferry, school and street named after her. This exhibit explores why that distinction is well-earned.

Austen continues to fascinate, not because she was one of the first female photographers, but because she was filled with contradictions and layers — all of which are evident in her body of work. She considered herself a lady, but photographed immigrants kept on quarantine islands in the lower New York Bay. Austen is best known for her street photography, but was more interested in Transcendentalism: the idea that man and nature are one. Her identity is hidden in the layers of her work.

The Austen exhibit will be on display until April 10. It was made possible by the Staten Island Foundation and the New York Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the Historic House Trust.

The Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, New York City parks and park history. It is located on the third floor of the Parks Department Headquarters in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free.

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