This interdisciplinary project used theater, dramaturgy, visual arts, and virtual reality to explore and interpret a unique slice of American history through the lens of Historic Cherry Hill and the van Rensselaer-Rankin family. Using the museum’s extensive collection of the family’s possessions and documents, the team researched the changing physical, societal and familial landscapes of Albany as experienced by the van Rensselaer-Rankin family who occupied it for five generations.

Summer 2021 Accomplishments:

  • Completed a guided virtual reality tour of the site. This will allow people of limited mobility to access floors of the site as well as making the historic site accessible to people in different geographic locations. 
  • Created a "Murder at Cherry Hill" tour. This will allow more people to access this interesting story, and provide a new fundraising opportunity for Cherry Hill. 
  • Worked on editing the full-length stage play "Tell Me That You'll Not Forget Me," about Minnie and Jimmy Knapp, detailing their unique experience as African American wards of the Van Rensselaer family. 
  • Led a well-attended calligraphy workshop at Cherry Hill using ink made from the walnut trees onsite. 

 Next Steps:

  • The students will showcase their virtual "Murder at Cherry Hill" tour at Siena in October- dates TBD 
  • "Tell Me That You'll Not Forget Me" will be performed in June of 2022 at Siena as part of a broader celebration and exploration of the lives of Jimmy and Minnie Knapp in the Capital Region. It will be directed by Jean-Remy Monnay of the Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY, our partner on the project. We are currently seeking funding for this production via a Humanities NY Grant. 

Contact: Krysta DennisScott Foster or Robin Flatland