The Hudson River Museum collects American art from the 19th century to the present as well as cultural and historical material related to the Museum's historic river home, Glenview listed on the Register of National Historic Places, and for Westchester County and the Hudson Valley.
The Museum's collections have evolved from the original holdings of the Yonkers Museum, which was founded at Yonkers City Hall in 1919, and relocated to the Yonkers Museum of Arts and Science in Glenview on Warburton Avenue in Yonkers in 1924. During these early years, collection materials were placed on permanent display in Glenview’s rooms devoted to natural history, earth science, local and world history, and fine arts.
In 1937, Museum Director H. Armour Smith advocated changing the Museum's name to The Hudson River Museum to acknowledge that its collections, which documented the Hudson Valley, were a primary Museum goal. By 1948, when the Museum was rechartered by the New York State Board of Regents as The Hudson River Museum at Yonkers, Inc., its collection had grown to include a small group of 19th and 20th century paintings, sculptures, and graphic works as well as Victorian furniture, decorative arts, and costumes, and materials documenting local history.
The New Wing, completed in 1969, added a 34-foot atrium opening the main floor of the Museum’s 40,000-square foot main building. The building won the New York State Conference of Architecture Design Award and the Westchester Chapter American Institute of Architects Design Award and its galleries on two floors display changing exhibitions of art, history, and science. At the same time the New Wing was established, the first floor of Glenview was partially restored, with four furnished period rooms and two small galleries displaying decorative and historical materials from the Collection.
In the late 1970s, Richard Koshalek, the director, proposed that the Museum, which had little space to devote to storing and exhibiting contemporary art, incorporate art of its time into the fabric of the new building. With funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and several foundations and corporations, the Museum commissioned two permanent installations. The first, completed in 1978-79 was Red Grooms' The Bookstore, a sculptural environment. The second by Dan Flavin, Untitled (for Betty and Richard Koshalek, a reminder), is a fluorescent light installation completed in 1979.
Art holdings presently include over 500 paintings and watercolor works highlighted by Hudson River School artists Asher B. Durand, Jasper Cropsey, Samuel Colman, William Trost Richards, and contemporary masters Don Nice and Bill Sullivan. Works on paper include artists Georgia O’Keeffe, Richard Haas, and Andy Warhol as well as historical artifacts, costumes, and photographs.