On Friday, the Bundy Museum of History and Art held the opening reception for “Hidden in Plain Sight,” an exhibition designed to highlight historical architecture throughout New York state and prevent its decline. Sponsored by the Preservation League of New York State, “Hidden in Plain Sight” aims to raise awareness for the “Seven to Save” locations chosen by the League that have been weathered by neglect and the passing of time.
The photography in the exhibition was taken by Bruce Harvey, a professional historian and documentation photographer based in Syracuse, and shines a light on the horrid conditions of certain historical buildings. The photos also aim to educate others about how they can improve them.
While the Preservation League of New York State releases new versions of the “Seven to Save” list biannually, Harvey’s involvement with the cause just started recently. He traveled to locations on the Preservation League’s 2018-19 list to take photos of what he found. After visiting all seven locations, he reached out to the League and told him about his project. The result is a traveling exhibition that makes stops all over New York state to showcase Harvey’s photography and raise awareness for “Seven to Save.”
Along with educating others, Janna Rudler, ‘95, who now works with the Preservation League and the Bundy Museum, said the exhibition is meant to encourage Binghamton citizens to adopt a newfound appreciation for the city’s architecture.
“We want people just to take notice as they are walking down the street, and think about how valuable these buildings are to the landscape in which we live,” Rudler said. “Binghamton would not be the same without its historic buildings.”
Bella Buchannan, a sophomore majoring in visual communication arts at SUNY Broome, visited the exhibition during opening night to peek into the past and get a glimpse of a time she never knew.
“People should be more aware of the preservation of buildings and properties in New York,” Buchannan said. “I have never been in these places or known they have existed, but I have been [in the communities these buildings are in].”
Kyle Brehm, a junior majoring in economics at Binghamton University, went to the exhibition with no knowledge of local buildings in need of preservation. Despite the exhibition’s scope of the entirety of New York state, Brehm took away an appreciation for what the town of Binghamton used to be.
“I look at all these pictures and I just think about the buildings and where they are now, and it is just not the same at all,” Brehm said. “It is actually kind of cool to see how much the city has changed and what is now different.”
Emphasizing the importance of the old architecture in the area, Rudler referenced LUMA, one of Binghamton’s largest events.
“What would LUMA be without the historic buildings that they project on?” she said. “You could project it on a blank wall, but how boring would that be? They are irreplaceable.”
Rudler also provided advice for people after their visit to the exhibition.
“Advocate for [the preservation of historic buildings],” she said. “Go to a town meeting and speak up. When there is a hearing about a building, just pay attention to the actions that take place around town and show up. That’s really all it takes.”
The Bundy Museum will continue to display “Hidden in Plain Sight” from Oct. 4 until Nov. 1.