Karpeles Museum opens in Gloversville

Karpeles Museum Director Vartan Bonjukian poses the Intaglio print he created that will be displayed at the museum located at 66 Kingsboro Ave. in Gloversville as a conversation starter. The museum is open daily from 1 to 4 p.m. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

GLOVERSVILLE — A museum aimed at creating a direct connection to the past through the display of historical documents and artifacts has officially opened.

Founded in 1983, the Karpeles Manuscript Library is the world’s largest private holder of original historical manuscripts and documents on display in museums housed in historic buildings across the country. The 15th Karpeles Museum location is now open at 66 Kingsboro Ave. with daily hours from 1 to 4 p.m. and free admission, according to Director Vartan Bonjukian.

David Karpeles, CEO and president of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums, purchased the Kingsboro Avenue building from the Taylor Made Group in April planning to turn it into a museum.

Originally constructed in 1932 as a Christian Science Church, the building served as Taylor Made Group’s corporate headquarters since 1997 before the company put the property on the market within the past year after deciding to move employees from that location into the company’s local production and warehouse buildings.

Despite the change in ownership over the years, the interior of the historic church building is largely unchanged and Bonjukian said it will remain that way as exhibit cases are gradually installed around the perimeter of the main room where items included in the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums’ rotating collection of documents, manuscripts and artifacts from famous figures in the fields of science, literature, religion, history and art will be displayed.

Ancient Egyptian sandstone carvings are included in the current exhibit on display at the Karpeles Museum in Gloversville at 66 Kingsboro Ave. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

Exhibit items are rotated through the system of 15 museums every four months and are not repeated at the same location for four to five years due to the size of the collection. Currently the city based museum features an exhibit with ancient Egyptian artifacts including several sandstone carvings and a page from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

In the entrance hall, the museum’s permanent exhibit is showcased featuring historical documents dating back to the birth of baseball, including original applications submitted by several cities seeking to join or resign from the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs in the late 19th century.

The decision to house a permanent baseball exhibit at the museum was made due to the museum’s proximity to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, roughly an hour away, and the presence of historic Parkhurst Field in the city.

In the future Bonjukian said he hopes to acquire portable partitions that can be assembled in the center of the main room to host exhibits featuring the work of local artists.

“It’s history and history in the making,” Bonjukian said. “The mission of the museum is to make bridges between communities.”

The Karpeles Museum in Gloversville features a permanent collection of documents from the birth of baseball, including the resignation by the Washington D.C. team from the National League of Professional Baseball in 1890 after the four seasons. (The Leader-Herald/Ashley Onyon)

The museum will also feature a modest display of Bonjukian’s own artwork, including several sculptures and Intaglio prints made by etching a design into a resin or wax covered plate that is later dipped in acid to expose the plate that is then used for print making, a technique he learned while studying art at Jacksonville University where he received a bachelor’s degree.

“I think it’s a conversation starter,” Bonjukian said of the encouragement for Karpeles Museum directors to display their own work.

Over time Bonjukian hopes that the museum will become a community space where local events or concerts are held, areas of interest for Bonjukian who is active in Averill Park where he currently lives, playing clarinet in the Community Orchestra.

“I would like the museum to be a place for people to meet and share ideas,” Bonjukian said, noting that each of Karpeles Museum location is intended to grow and change to suit the needs and desires of the surrounding community while directly connecting individuals with each other and to history.

“There is a living aspect of the Karpeles Museums,” he said.

Although fully establishing the museum will take time, Bonjukian expressed excitement over the prospect of being part of the process.

“I think this is a good spot for me,” Bonjukian said of his new position. “It combines everything I’ve been interested in my whole life.”

The Karpeles Museum located at 66 Kingsboro Ave. is open daily from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Admission is free and open to the public. For additional information visit the Karpeles Museum Gloversville Facebook page or contact the museum by phone at (518) 752-4596.

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