The reputation of Alice Austen has grown steadily since her death in 1871 and relative artistic obscurity. As the male domination of the art world has waned, and LGBT awareness has grown, Alice has become a recognized pioneer in photography as well as women's and LGBT rights. Her home, one of several dozen 18th-century homes preserved in New York City, provides an intimate and charming example of New York City family life and provides the perfect setting for understanding Alice's life, the challenges she faced as a creative woman in the 18th century and her continued influence.
I am happy that what was once so much pleasure for me turns out now to be a pleasure for other people.
What You Will See
Three experiences draw you to Alice Austen's home. First, the quiet, bayside location is a rare bucolic sanctuary in one of the world's busiest cities. The view from Alice's property takes in New York Harbor at its best. Her home, with both the exterior and interior restored to its 18th-century character, is a rare example of middle-class New York life. Antiques, some original possessions of the Austen family, fill several rooms as faithfully to the period as possible. What brings visitors back, however, are the rotating exhibits mounted in the cozy galleries throughout the home. Photography is the primary medium explored by the exhibits, ranging from Alice's original work to examples of modern amateur and professional artist.
Why You Should Go
Few New Yorkers, let alone tourists, spend any time on Staten Island beyond turning around at the Ferry Terminal. Alice Austen's home makes one of the strongest cases for exploring beyond St. George. It is a fundamental piece of New York City history but also feels like a complete escape from the metropolitan area. While there are parks, historical homes, gallery spaces and harbor views that may be more convenient, few places in the city combine all of these in such a unique and beautiful way. Come learn more about one of New York's most unique historical personalities, her daily life and see New York Harbor from a new vantage point.
The Alice Austen Triennial of Photography
closes 21 December