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The Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, NY

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!

Adirondack Museum Entrance

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.

65 Blue Mountain Lake

View of Blue Mountain Lake from the observation deck.

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.

3 Enchanted Forest hat

The museum is filled with local paraphernalia.

6 Blue Mt House sign

5 Spruce Gum Box

8 Sailing Wheel

I got a kick out of some of the old advertisements, like this old Camel cigarettes one:

11 Old Tobacco Ad

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.

14 Boat Makers Shop

13 Lightweight Canoe

12 Boat

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.

16 Adirondack Abe

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.

18 Ore Deposit Map

We loved this interactive map of the park! You could press buttons for various locations, and lights on the map would display the location.

19 Adirondack Interactive Map

That’s a mighty impressive mount.

20 Under the Moose

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.”

23 Adirondack Eats

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!

22 Fort Schuyler Utica Ale

This is a 3,000 year old steatite bowl! Fascinating!

24 Steatite Bowl

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!

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About the Author

I've been traveling throughout New York State since I got the travel bug after touring the Herkimer Home on a school field trip as a youngster. We've been blogging about our travels since 2006 and have visited over half of New York's 62 counties so far.

Comments (4)

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  1. akaGaGa says:

    Thanks for this. You’re not going to believe it, but my granddaughter is coming to visit this weekend and guess where we’re going on Saturday? Yep, the Adirondack Museum. I’m really excited, because it’s been many, many years since I’ve been there and I know they’ve made a lot of changes. When I was a kid, I used to get in for free, because my grandfather was a charter member. I don’t think that’ll work anymore. 🙂

  2. Ulla says:

    I love the Adirondacks so much and this museum not only captures it well it really exceded my expectations. It has a great feeling to it too!

  3. Francis Kelly says:

    My wife and I live in South Carolina now, grew up in the Utica area. My wifes family at one time owned a camp on Otter Lake the Durr family. We recently bought an antique framed lithograph 18″X10″ of Lake Pleasant at a flea market here SC. Bottom left is printed N.Y. No. 901 Lake Pleasant (New York State). I have researched, can’t find anything about this beautiful lithograph, you would swear it is a painting. It is probably done early 1900’s. Would appreciate any help you could give us about this piece. If you want a picture I will send one. Thankyou for your time. Frank and Sue Kelly Fort Mill S.C.