The Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum
The Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum was established in 1957 by the Blauvelt-Demarest Foundation, a legacy of the late Hiram Blauvelt, philanthropist, conservationist and collector.
Through the contribution of his private wildlife art and big game collections, he hoped to promote the cultural value of wildlife art and the need for conservation of its subjects and their habitats.
Where Wildlife Art Lives
A Brief History of the Museum
During the early part of the 20th century, wildlife was believed to be abundant. Many dedicated conservationists, notably Theodore Roosevelt, gathered animals from their natural habitats for museums. The beauty of the animals could then be viewed by many.
Like Roosevelt, Hiram Blauvelt realized the value of his collection and wanted to share it with the public. It was his interest and desire to share his far ranging adventures, his stories of explorations and his collection of these animals. Hiram hoped to educate the coming generations to the diversity and beauty of the wildlife kingdom. He especially wanted to enlighten the public to the challenges we face to preserve the marvels of wildlife and their natural environments.
Founded in 1957 as a natural history museum, it introduced students, scouts and youth groups to the need to support wildlife and habitats conservation. Visiting artists created drawings and paintings from close observation of the specimens.
Twenty-five years later, the Board of Directors of the Blauvelt-Demarest Foundation decided that the original objectives would be best achieved by redesigning the museum to feature the works of contemporary wildlife artists, built on the artistic foundation of the Blauvelt’s early collection of works by Charles Livingston Bull (notably a resident of Oradell at one time), Carl Rungius and a complete Audubon Folio of extinct birds.
The Blauvelt Museum, located in an 1893 cedar shingle and turret carriage house, underwent extensive renovations to accommodate its new and expanded mission. The original carriage house was re-designed to include a large reception area, four mini galleries and museum offices, all with original materials from the historic building, and preserving its aura.
Four new galleries were added, providing wall space for mounting museum quality flatwork, and generous room for pedestals to hold creative sculpture. Substantial artificial lighting is augmented by natural light from the north.
High on a hill overlooking the Hackensack River, the Oradell Reservoir and parklands to the east, the entrance to the museum is through a curving stone and slate terrace, framed by large oak trees and other indigenous foliage, which serves as a natural sculpture garden.
Many of its visitors today, accompanied by their children, are re-visiting the museum which they first visited with their parents in past decades. The Blauvelt treasures their comments remarking on the greater beauties of its collection, while preserving the ambience of their memories.