Nancy Callahan, Stenographer’s Dream, 2015. Wood, glass, paper, stenographer’s dictionary, found objects
Richard Whitten, Tellurium, 2020. Oil on wood panel

A Cabinet of Curious Matters

Artwork by Callahan and Whitten Opens September 16 at Fenimore Art Museum

New exhibition features the work of two artists who share an interest in dreams, antique scientific and medical instruments, mythologies, and mysteries.

Cooperstown, New York — Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown presents the meticulous yet playful work of sculptor Nancy Callahan and painter Richard Whitten in the new exhibition A Cabinet of Curious Matters: Artwork by Callahan and Whitten, on view September 16 – December 31, 2023.

Cabinet of Curious Matters

A Cabinet of Curious Matters is a visual dialogue between the works of the two artists who share an interest in dreams, antique scientific and medical instruments, mythologies, and mysteries. For years they have been drawn to the same objects of reference—the same books, the same tools, the same toys. They have travelled a parallel path. How uncanny since they live and work hundreds of miles apart and have only recently met.

Callahan and Whitten’s work is uniquely different, yet complementary in innumerable ways. A sophisticated sense of play is at the core of their work. Their meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail is compelling. Their inventive works create a blend of color, textual surfaces, and dimensionality—a “Wunderkammer” or “room of wonders” to delight the eye and challenge the intellect.

Enter “The Cabinet of Curious Matters” and you will be surrounded by paintings and sculptures by both artists, as well as reference objects pulled from their collections. These objects—plumb bobs, whirligigs, game boards, and specimens under glass—serve as visual clues that provide insight into the intense journey Callahan and Whitten travel in the process of inventing and creating their work.

About the Artists

Nancy Callahan is a visual artist who works in a variety of mediums. She is known for her screen prints, drawings, and installations as well as her work in the field of artist’s books. She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally and has taught well-over a hundred workshops on innovative book structures. Her work is housed in many permanent collections throughout the United States and Europe including Yale University, Vassar College, The Corcoran Gallery of Art, University of Indiana at Bloomington, University of Michigan University of Delaware, Library of Congress, Rochester Institute of Technology, Wesleyan University Virginia Commonwealth University, Women’s Studio Workshop Saint Stephen Museum, Hungary, Bucknell University, SUNY Albany, and Harvard University.

Richard Whitten grew up in Manhattan, NY, a child of Asian and American parents. He earned a B.A. in Economics from Yale University and an M.F.A. in Painting from the University of California at Davis where he studied with both Wayne Thiebaud and Robert Arneson. He is best known for his representational paintings that combine an interest in architecture, invented machinery, and toys. Whitten is also known for his toy-like sculptures. He has had numerous exhibitions on both coasts. Notables are major solo exhibitions at the Frye Art Museum in Seattle, Washington, the Newport Art Museum in Newport, Rhode Island, and the University of Maine Museum of Art. In 2023, Whitten was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. He is represented by ArtMora Gallery, NY and Seoul, Korea; Clark Gallery, Lincoln, MA; the William Scott Gallery, Provincetown, MA; and the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, CA. He is presently a Professor of Painting at Rhode Island College and recently completed a term as Department Chairperson.

Museum Hours

Open daily 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. through October 9. Fall hours (October 10–December 31): Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. (Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.) Admission is free for visitors 19 and under. Find more information at

About Fenimore Art Museum

Fenimore Art Museum, located on the shores of Otsego Lake—James Fenimore Cooper’s “Glimmerglass”—in historic Cooperstown, New York, features a wide-ranging collection of American art including folk art; important American 18th- and 19th-century landscape, genre, and portrait paintings; more than 125,000 historic photographs representing the technical developments made in photography and providing extensive visual documentation of the region’s unique history; and the renowned Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art comprised of nearly 900 art objects representative of a broad geographic range of North American Indian cultures, from the Northwest Coast, Eastern Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Great Lakes, and Prairie regions. Visit

Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY

Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY