From the Archives: Museum Membership Card

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Members have been an important part of the Everson Museum since its early days as the Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts, dating back to the early twentieth century. Originally, there were only two levels of membership: Annual Members, who paid $10 a year, and Annual Contributing Members, who paid $100 a year. Funds obtained through membership fees supported the Museum’s general operating expenses and helped provide free admission to the Museum for all visitors. Beginning in 1911, the Museum directed a portion of membership dollars towards the newly established Friends of American Art Fund, which was used to purchase artworks for the collection. Upon payment, all members received a certificate verifying their membership with the Museum’s official seal. The Museum published its first annual Bulletin in 1911 and listed 131 members, likely all residents of Syracuse and Onondaga County. The list includes many prominent members of the Syracuse community, including business owners, attorneys, and government officials, as well as local artists. In explaining the importance of becoming a Museum member, Director Fernando Carter wrote, “The active interest of men and women in shaping the Museum’s policy and caring for the future growth of its collections is essential if the aesthetic or spiritual progress of our city is to be commensurate with its industrial and commercial growth.”Memberships—and membership cards—are different today when compared to the early twentieth century, but the spirit of an annual membership remains the same. Current members receive free admission to the Everson all year long, as well as several other perks, including discounts on art classes and programs and in the Museum Shop, invitations to special events throughout the year, access to special members-only programs, and discounted or free admission to other museums. In turn, membership fees contribute to the vitality of the Everson and support core programs at the Museum.Are you interested in becoming a member? Join today!

-Steffi Chappell, Assistant Curator

Syracuse Museum of Fine Arts membership certificate, ca. 1900-1909