Alice Austen was a woman of many talents, though she is best known as one of America’s first and most prolific female photographers. She was a woman ahead of her time—an early bicycling enthusiast, a landscape designer, a master tennis player, and the first woman on Staten Island to own a car.
The Alice Austen House, also called Clear Comfort, is a historical landmark and vibrant cultural center, which exhibits parts of Austen’s extensive photography collection with the mission of keeping the spirit of the early American photographer alive.
Volunteers work the grounds and gardens.
The permanent collection showcases Austen’s work—the earliest surviving works dating to when she was 18. Her subjects were the people closest to her, and their environments. She was an active and widely traveled woman, who lugged her 50-pound equipment with her everywhere she went, and by the time she was 18, she was an experienced photographer. Austen captured more than 8,000 images.
The museum offers various ongoing workshops dedicated to photography. Popular classes include Fundamentals of Photography and iPhoneography. More advanced courses explore architecture through photography. The museum also frequently hosts scout groups, youth activities, and family workshops.
Alice Austen House hosts an annual Mother’s Day Fair.
The museum presents two or three special exhibitions per year. Running through Aug. 31, the featured exhibit is Staten Island Unlimited: The Borough’s First Triennial of Photography, which showcases the work of 35 contemporary photographers exploring the narrative of NYC’s under-represented borough and its sub-cultures.
Visitors enjoy the grounds and views of New York Harbor.
Address: 2 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island
Directions: Approximately a 1-hour, 15-minute drive from New City.
Hours: March-December: Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-5pm. January-February: By appointment only.
Admission Prices: $3 suggested donation.
For more information: aliceausten.org
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The Dutch farmhouse was built in 1690, and is a National Historical Landmark. Photos courtesy Alice Austen House.