A visit to the Adirondack Museum will enlighten you about the region’s rich history while opening your eyes to the hardships early settlers faced in creating a place of their own among the mountains, forests, lakes and rivers that have long made the region so desirable. Cross the threshold and you’ll step back to a time when pioneers made their living from the land and wealthy vacationers made arduous treks from big cities to enjoy the rugged splendor of this area.
Founded as a historical association dedicated to preserving the area’s roots back in the 1940s, the museum opened its doors in 1957, according to a summer 2013 interview between Ron Mitchell (owner of this vacations in the Adirondacks website) and Todd , the museum’s marketing director. The mission now is as it was then: “To tell the story of the people in the Adirondacks,” Todd said.
Situated on a 32-acre campus in the heart of the park, the museum tells the story of the region’s past through a host of exhibits and hands-on displays meant to enlighten, educate and delight visitors. While only open on a seasonal basis for in-person visits – from May until October – it imparts knowledge about the Adirondacks year-round via its website.
With only a few weeks left in its 2013 run, late-season visitors will find a number of unique special exhibits make a stop at the museum a must. Todd said visitors can learn more about the beautiful mountains and the people who settled them through such displays as:
· Let’s Eat! Adirondack Food Traditions: Wonder what foods were staples in the Adirondack diet in the days before mass transit and electricity? This exhibit celebrates the foods that graced tables in days gone.
· Great Wilderness, Great Expectations: This visual exhibit documents the region through the eyes of artists and photographers including William Trost Richards, Harold Weston, Nathan Farb and Seneca Ray Stoddard.
· Traveling with Stoddard: This breakout exhibit features the photographs of American legend Seneca Ray Stoddard, who was well-known for recording not only the beauty of the region, but also its people. Stoddard, Todd explained, was also a key player in planting the idea for New York to create this state park. “It’s a wonderful exhibition that looks back a century or more (at) what the park looked like.”
The museum also has many permanent exhibits that visitors can count on seeing each season. They include displays dedicated to such topics as outdoor recreation, wilderness living, the hospitality industry, railroads, furniture and great camps.
A particular favorite for Todd is the Boats & Boating in the Adirondacks exhibit that casts a spotlight on just how important boats have been in the region’s history. The exhibit features a display of guide boats, canoes and more. Plus, if visitors are really lucky, they can watch as master craftswoman Allison Warner builds a guide boat before their eyes. It takes Warner about two summers to handcraft a single boat. As she does her work, museum guests can ask questions about the nearly lost art. “It’s a neat part of the boats and boating exhibition,” Todd said.
Todd isn’t saying what exhibits visitors can expect when the museum returns for its 2014 season, but he promises they’ll delight. He did drop a few hints about what may yet come.
“(There’s) a lot of interest in this region's household furniture (and) the native American story.”
Want to Visit?
The Adirondack Museum is located at 9097 State Route 30 in Blue Mountain Lake, New York. It is open from the end of May through mid-October annually.