I’ve visited some amazing museums in my time — the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, the New York State Museum — the Adirondack Museum in the central Adirondack region is perhaps one of the largest museums in Upstate New York. It certainly ranks as one of the most interesting and enjoyable. It took us two days to get through the museum!
Surrounded by the exquisite Blue Mountain and other Adirondack peaks, the Adirondack Museum sits nestled on the side of a mountain. The front of the museum faces Route 28, a well-maintained and easily accessible road to the museum. The rear faces the illustrious Blue Mountain Lake, with a deck offering incredible views of the lake and forested splendor beyond. Throughout the museum grounds, modern buildings and reconstructed Adirondack cabins house zillions of Adirondack paraphernalia and history.
As soon as you enter the museum’s main building, you are greeted with a full-sized sailboat. The boat perfectly epitomizes the Adirondack experience: luscious natural materials, superior craftsmanship, emphasis on the region’s hardy self-sufficiency, and the main mode of transportation amongst the park’s innumerable lakes and rivers.
We perused the building’s many display areas before embarking on the museum’s many trails to other buildings on the campus. The main building had a lot of “odds and ends.” I liked the variety and several displays brought back such memories, like this old 1960s Enchanted Forest felt hat. Oh, how I always wanted to see giant 20-foot tall Paul Bunyan at Enchanted Forest! I was a girl growing up near Syracuse and I would watch the television commercials for the place with great interest. Today, Enchanted Forest is a water amusement park, but I do think ol’ Paul stands in the Storybook Lane part of the park.
The museum is filled with local paraphernalia.
I got a kick out of some of the old advertisements, like this old Camel cigarettes one:
The museum has a large building with an impressive display of boats, boat making and more. After chatting with a very informative museum usher about the region and perusing the many life-sized boats in the building, we sat to watch a ten-minute video on how canoes are made.
Boats were extremely important before the automobile and road system, and are still a very popular method of transportation around here. In old times, residents crafted their canoes to be extremely lightweight. This allowed them to carry the canoe across portages, or carries — swaths of land between the numerous lakes and rivers. Here’s Adirondack Abe, the epitome of the traditional Adirondack resident.
We sauntered over to another building on the campus. This one soon became my favorite, as it was filled with information about the geology of the Adirondacks region.
We loved this interactive map of the park! You could press buttons for various locations, and lights on the map would display the location.
That’s a mighty impressive mount.
We also took a brief tour of the artwork of Arthur Tait, a New York City painter who illustrated the Adirondack region in paintings and lithographs. He contributed to making the park a summer destination for wealthy Americans before and after the Civil War era (mid 19th century).
More quirky displays awaited us in other rooms. To view larger sizes, click the photo to go to my Flickr photo page and select “more sizes.”
This bottle was a pleasant surprise. Fort Schuyler was the original name of Utica, NY. It’s the home of the FX Matt Brewery where they make the famous Saranac beer. We toured the FX Matt Brewery in Utica, NY. I had no idea that Utica, NY, had a brewery before FX Matt!
This is a 3,000 year old steatite bowl! Fascinating!
The room also held dozens of old postcards showing interesting natural and commercial places of interest in the area. We sat and looked at them for a long time. The collection is marvelous!
I have so much more to tell you about the Adirondack Museum, but it will have to be in Part 2. Stay tuned for more!