Editor's note: The New York State Historical Association and The Farmers' Museum provided source material to Resource Library for the following article or essay. If you have questions or comments regarding the source material, please contact the New York State Historical Association and The Farmers' Museum directly through either these phone numbers or web address:


Empire State Carousel


The Farmers' Museum announced September 12, 2005 that it has received a major gift from The Board of Directors of The Empire State Carousel Museum and will soon be the new, permanent home for the Empire State Carousel, a unique, handcrafted merry-go-round based entirely on the history and culture of New York State. "We are thrilled to receive this wonderful addition to The Farmers' Museum's Country Fair," said Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman of The Farmers' Museum's Board. "The Empire State Carousel is, quite literally, a museum you can ride on!" 

"We invite our museum members, the public, the many volunteers who helped to create the carousel and representatives of communities from across New York to come to our grand opening celebration on Memorial Day weekend, 2006 and enjoy a ride," added Stephen Elliott, President of The Farmers' Museum.

 The Empire State Carousel, a full-size operating merry-go-round, was begun in 1984 and completed in 2003.  Created by 1,000 volunteer carvers, quilters, painters and woodworkers from all over New York State, it features a variety of original carvings, paintings, and quilts, each of which has been specially designed for the carousel. The carousel offers a comprehensive survey of New York State's cultural history as well as provides excellent examples of contemporary folk art. The Empire State Carousel is composed of 23 hand-carved animals, indigenous to New York State, portrait panels, folklore panels, historical murals, quilted banners, regional frames, cloth pennants from the state's 62 counties, and a custom-built military band organ. 

Board spokesman Gerry Holzman, a retired educator and the project's head carver and executive director, said that the decision to choose the Cooperstown location and to donate the carousel to The Farmers' Museum was made with "a mixture of sadness and joy.  Sadness, because Long Island has been the carousel's base during the 20-year process of creation and has brought forth many volunteers and donors whose enthusiastic support and friendship will be forever cherished. Joy, because the carousel has finally found a permanent home where it will be maintained and exhibited by museum professionals who are intensely appreciative of its educational and cultural value."

As Holzman explained the Board's decision to go to Cooperstown, "personally, it brings us great comfort to know that the artwork of so many dedicated and generous people will be forever preserved. With the donation of this carousel to The Farmers' Museum, the Board and I have fulfilled a self-imposed obligation to our fellow artists and to all those other folks who share our love for this beautiful and inspiring place we call the Empire State."

Plans are underway to integrate the carousel into the museum's operations for the 2006 season. The carousel will introduce the rich heritage of New York to students and families through unique programs that tie the museum's on-going exhibits with the magic of an operating carousel. Program plans for the carousel include tours of the carousel, carving workshops, evening ice cream socials, and school programs.

Architectural plans for a new carousel pavilion in Cooperstown are nearly complete and a formal groundbreaking will take place during The Farmers' Museum's annual Harvest Festival event on Saturday, September 17th at 2 pm. Visitors will hear a performance of the carousel's custom-built Mighty and Magnificent Military Band Organ and preview some of the Empire State Carousel's carvings. Visitors to the Harvest Festival will receive a special coupon for a free ride on the carousel, along with a discount on museum admission and museum shop purchases, for next season.


More about Garry Holzman

Gerry Holzman became a professional woodcarver in 1970 after studying the trade in England under renowned master carver Gino Masero. Holzman has been restoring carousels since 1976. He has restored over 75 works of art from antique carousels and has created approximately 200 pieces of original carousel carving. Since 1984, he has been the head carver and executive director of the Empire State Carousel Project. Over the course of two decades, Holzman oversaw the production of this full-size operating merry-go-round based on the history and culture of New York State. In 2005 Holzman gifted the Empire State Carousel to The Farmers' Museum. As of May 27, 2006, the carousel will be open to the public in a newly built pavilion on the museum's Creamery Green.

Holzman has also created work for such diverse clients as Disney, the South Street Seaport, the Penn Club, and the Cunard Lines. A former teacher, Holzman now conducts woodcarving classes, presents workshops for teachers, and gives lectures on cruise lines. He is a speaker for the New York State Humanities Council and writes for a number of regional publications and craft magazines.

Articles on his work have appeared in a wide variety of national publications including The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Country Living, Time Out, Arts and Antiques Magazine, Biography, Carousel Art, Carousel Trader, Wood Carving Illustrated, Woodcarving (England), Popular Woodworking, and Fine Woodworking.


About The Farmers' Museum and the New York State Historical Association

The Farmers' Museum is one of the country's oldest living-history museums. Chartered in 1943, it opened its doors to the public in 1944. The museum has preserved more than 20 examples of upstate New York architecture, including a stone blacksmith shop, one-room schoolhouse, printing office, tavern, barns, and a church. These buildings and others comprise a 19th-century village and farmstead at the museum.

The New York State Historical Association was founded in 1899 by a group of New Yorkers who were interested in promoting greater knowledge of the early history of the state. They hoped to encourage original research, to educate general audiences by means of lectures and publications, to mark places of historic interest with tablets or signs, and to start a library and museum to hold manuscripts, paintings, and objects associated with the history of the state. The New York State Historical Association is a private, non-governmental educational organization. It is closely affiliated with its sister organization, The Farmers' Museum.

The New York State Historical Association and The Farmers' Museum, two independent but closely affiliated educational and cultural institutions, are located in Cooperstown, New York. Please see the museum's web site for admission prices and hours.

rev. 5/1/06

Also see Resource Library's sub-index page for the Fenimore Art Museum which is a museum showcase of the New York State Historical Association.

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Copyright 2005 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.